Public Safety

Former Hillel director in Iowa City gets January trial on charge of sexually abusing 9-year-old boy

IOWA CITY — Trial for the former director of a student Jewish organization, accused of sexually abusing a child, has been set for Jan. 28 in Johnson County District Court. 

David M. Weltman, 29, now of Skokie, Ill., pleaded not guilty earlier this week to one count of second-degree sexual abuse, according to a court documents.

Sometime between Feb. 1 and March 31, Weltman was giving a Hebrew lesson to a 9-year-old boy at the Hillel House, 122 E. Market St. in Iowa City. The boy told police that during a lesson, Weltman picked him up, carried him into another room and molested him.

A former acquaintance of Weltman told investigators Weltman admitted to being sexually attracted to 7- to 12-year-old boys, the complaint shows. Weltman told the acquaintance he hadn’t done anything sexually with a child but had “urges and a desire to,” according to the complaint

Weltman also told the person he watched foreign films featuring nude children for sexual gratification, the complaint shows.

After Weltman paid a $100,000 bail, 6th Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever ruled he could reside in Illinois pending his trial in Iowa City.

Prosecutors didn’t object to Weltman remaining in Illinois on pretrial release or his request to travel to Florida this month.

Judge Andrew Chappell approved the trip last week.

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. Weltman met annually with UI administrators as part of the Campus Ministries leadership group, UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said last month.

Weltman joined Hillel in July 2016.

Matthew Berger, vice president of communications for Hillel International, said Weltman was placed on administrative leave when the organization learned about the allegations and no longer is employed by Iowa Hillel.

“It pains us greatly to hear of these allegations, as the safety of our students and community members is Hillel’s top priority,” Berger said. “Hillel is here to support the Jewish community at the University of Iowa during this difficult time, and we urge any student who needs support to reach out to us or directly to University Counseling Services.”

Sue Weinberg, president of the Agudas Achim congregation, said Weltman worked as a Sunday school teacher for the congregation from around 2014 through 2016, when he was a student at UI. There were no reports of misconduct while he was teacher, she said last month.

Iowa City Police Sgt. Derek Frank said no other victims are known.

If convicted, Weltman faces up to 25 years in prison. Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com