Public Safety

Judge denies in-home detention for Illinois man who molested 9-year-old boy

David Weltman will be sentenced to 25 years June 12

Defense attorney Christopher Foster (right) and defendant David Weltman (center) listen to assistant Johnson County Atto
Defense attorney Christopher Foster (right) and defendant David Weltman (center) listen to assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann-Smith as she gives the state’s opening statement during Weltman’s trial at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Weltman is accused of sexually abusing a then 9-year-old boy during a Hebrew lesson at Iowa Hillel, where Weltman was the director of the student Jewish organization. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A judge denies in-home detention for an Illinois man pending sentencing next month for sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy.

David M. Weltman, 29, of Skokie, Ill., a former director of Hillel House, a student Jewish organization, was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse by a Johnson County jury in March. He molested the child during a Hebrew lesson between Feb. 1 and March 31, 2019, according to testimony.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros, in his ruling Thursday, said Weltman was convicted of an “extraordinarily serious offense with a child” which requires a lengthy mandatory sentence of over 17 years, and up to 25. There are “obvious” concerns for protecting the community and securing defendant’s appearance at sentencing June 12, which would be “undercut” with in-home detention, according to the ruling.

Kepros took the request under advisement after hearing arguments earlier in the day from Weltman’s lawyer, Christopher Foster, and Assistant Johnson County Attorney Oubonh White who argued there was no legal authority to grant in-home detention to someone convicted of this crime.

Kepros, in the ruling, said he found “little merit” to Weltman’s claim that in-home detention is necessary for him to take care of his financial and family matters. Weltman was aware of the mandatory sentence and ineligibility for bail if convicted. He could have handled those matters before trial, the ruling noted.

“In fact, defendant’s reasoning for in-home detention would apply to every defendant awaiting sentencing for a forcible felony, yet would largely negate the protections afforded by” Iowa law — making those convicted of forcible felonies ineligible for bail, Kepros said in the ruling.

Kepros also didn’t agree with the argument by Foster that the court could grant “any person” held in a county jail to serve in-home detention would include a class B forcible felony, such as second-degree sexual abuse, but if it did, he still denies the request. The law states the county sheriff has to “certify to the court that the jail has an in-home detention program,” and Foster didn’t provide that certification.

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Assistant Linn County Attorney Oubonh White argued in-home detention is allowed by the jail but only for someone convicted of a misdemeanor sentence — usually less than a year. It isn’t given to defendants convicted of class A or class B forcible felony.

Defendants pending sentencing on a forcible felony are ineligible for release on bail, White said. In-home detention is a form of request for bail and there is no legal authority to grants this, she noted.

During trial, the victim, who is now 10, testified that Weltman, his former Hebrew teacher, while playing a game during a lesson last year, picked him up, took him into a storage room and molested him. He didn’t immediately tell anyone about the abuse.

At first, the boy, then 9, thought it was an accident but realized later it wasn’t after another incident where Weltman inappropriately touched him again during a trip to Isreal with his family and Weltman.

The boy told his mother that this had happened before during a Hebrew lesson. The child said he didn’t like it and started crying and yelling.

Iowa Hillel, on the edge of the University of Iowa campus, works with university students and Jewish student organizations but is not a part of the UI.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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