Patient Safety - Reality Check

Nechemya Weberman

This case is included here for several reasons. One is the issue of the intimidation to stay silent that sex-abuse victims and their families often face from their own community, in this case the Satmar Hasidic community, but Mormons and Catholics and others are guilty of it too (see Dr. John Story or Dr. James Burt). In this case prosecutors say they know of more victims who were too afraid to testify.

Another reason this case is here is to point out the abscence of appropriate organizations to which to report such problems. Characteristically the police will not accept complaints about health care (see Kashyap). And state medical boards are usually useless for patients with complaints. But in this case it is even worse.

Mr. Weberman was an unlicensed therapist. As such no medical boards have authority over him. To whom were victims supposed to report?

There are many kinds of healers and home care givers of whom no one keeps track. Community Patient Agencies could gather information on anyone to whom their patient members go for treatment because they are not there to gain members from the care giving community. They are there to inform and protect patients. They don't have to be in a position to revoke licenses or discipline care givers. They just have to learn what is going on so that patients can learn from that.

Nechemya Weberman was sentences to 103 years in prison for child sex abuse. It was the first high-profile child sex abuse case brought against the politically powerful Satmar ultra-Orthodox group in twenty years.