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December 12th, 2012
01:02 PM ET

Chemical thrown on rabbi who advocated for abuse victims, lawyer says

By Rande Iaboni, CNN

New York (CNN) – An outspoken advocate for child sexual abuse victims in a tightknit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood was assaulted this week when a chemical he believes to be bleach was thrown in his face, according to his attorney.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg was walking the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg on Tuesday when a man threw the chemical on his face, causing his eyes and face to burn, said Abe George, the rabbi's attorney.

The assault happened a day after the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent community member in the conservative Satmar Hasidic community, was found guilty of sexually abusing a girl over a period of three years.

Rosenberg runs a website and telephone call-in line that publicizes claims of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community, and he believes this attack was an attempt to “silence” him, according to George.

Rosenberg said he knew who doused him, describing him as the son of a man he had reported on in the past as being allegedly involved in sexual abuse in the community, the lawyer said.

Weberman's conviction has put the spotlight on the insular Satmar Hasidic community, many of whom live in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Williamsburg.

Joel Engelman, another advocate against sexual abuse among Orthodox Jews, describes himself as a survivor of such abuse. It is rare for respected members of the community to face such allegations in court, he said.

In the past, members of the community have intimidated and pressured those who have accused their leaders of sexual abuse, he said.

Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, is investigating what happened to the rabbi, according to his spokesman, Jerry Schmetterer. It would be speculative to say the incident is connected to Weberman’s conviction, Schmetterer said, "because the rabbi is a well-known activist for certain causes in the community."

No arrests have been made, according to the New York Police Department.

Rosenberg’s vision is still blurry, but his attorney said he believes the rabbi will fully recover.

CNN’s Nina Melendez contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • Sex abuse

soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. gahh

    This is what terrorists do to young girls in the Middle East, who want to go to school for an education. The man that did this, will be in prison for a very long time. I hope the rabbi continues with his work.

    December 23, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  2. Waco Lover

    Throw that hook nosed mosche into an oven.

    December 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  3. Leif

    Throwing toxic chemicals in soneone's face is an act of terrorism. Period.

    December 13, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  4. Chick-a-dee

    Pick a different alias to spoof. It's too easy to tell which posts are mine. They're the ones that are spelled & punctuated properly. Besides, any old bf of mine would have been too busy with getting abused by me to have the opportunity to give it up elsewhere.

    December 13, 2012 at 1:04 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.