Public Safety

Former director of Jewish student organization convicted of sexual abuse of child

Molestation happened during religion lesson

David Weltman (right) watches as Assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann-Smith on Wednesday delivers the sta
David Weltman (right) watches as Assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann-Smith on Wednesday delivers the state’s opening statement in the trial of Weltman at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City. A jury on Thursday found Weltman guilty 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 former director of a student Jewish organization was convicted this week of molesting a 9-year-old boy last year during a Hebrew lesson.

After deliberating about 90 minutes, a Johnson County jury Thursday found David M. Weltman, 29, of Skokie, Ill., guilty of second-degree sexual abuse. He faces 25 years in prison. Sentencing is set April 27.

The boy, who is now 10, testified Wednesday that 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.

The abuse happened between Feb. 1 and March 31, 2019, at the Hillel House, 122 E. Market St. in Iowa City. Weltman is a former director of organization.

During his testimony, the boy said 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.

The boy also told the jury about a trip to Israel with his sister and mother, which Weltman helped plan, on March 13 to 24, 2019. His mother and sister stayed at the home of Weltman’s friends and he stayed, at least one night, with Weltman in another place.

During this night away from his family, the boy said Weltman told him to take a shower, that Weltman came in to see if there were towels and looked at the boy in the shower.

Zimmermann-Smith asked if that made him “feel uncomfortable,” and the boy said it did.

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The boy told his mother about the shower incident when they got back to Iowa and a few days later told her what had happened during the Hebrew lesson.

The boy said he finally told his mother after Weltman was playing a game with him during the Israel trip. Weltman put him on his lap and was holding him tight and wouldn’t let him down.

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

After the incidents in Israel, he said he realized the earlier inappropriate touching wasn’t an accident. He told his mother, and she reported it to police.

During his opening statement, Christopher Foster, Weltman’s lawyer, said nothing happened and the prosecution couldn’t prove the allegation.

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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