Public Safety

Opening statements begin Wednesday for Illinois man charged with sexually abusing child

9-year-old boy told police he was molested during a Hebrew lesson

IOWA CITY — Opening statements will begin Wednesday for an Illinois man, formerly the director of a student Jewish organization, who is accused of sexually abusing a child.

A jury was selected Tuesday for David M. Weltman, 29, of Skokie, Ill., who is charged with one count of second-degree sexual abuse. He is accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy between Feb. 1 and March 31, 2019, at the Hillel House, 122 E. Market St. in Iowa City. The boy told police that during a Hebrew lesson, Weltman picked him up, carried him into another room and molested him.

The trial is expected to last three days in Johnson County District Court.    

Sixth Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros, in a ruling made Monday, said an expert will be allowed to testify about how children who have been sexually abused behave, and many times delay reporting the incident. The expert cannot offer testimony about the credibility of the child or child victims in general.

Kepros will not allow testimony of a former acquaintance of Weltman, who told investigators he admitted to being sexually attracted to 7- to 12-year-old boys, which was included in the criminal complaint. Kepros ruled the testimony is improper character evidence that could cause unfair prejudice against the defendant.

Weltman told the acquaintance he hadn’t done anything sexually with a child, but had “urges and a desire to,” according to the complaint.

The prosecution also will be allowed to offer testimony by the child regarding a trip to Israel that occurred after the alleged incident, March 13 to 24, to show intent. 

The prosecution, in a motion, said the defendant planned the trip, including sleeping arrangements, while developing relationships with the child’s family to gain their trust, along with the child’s. This testimony also will show what incidents occurred between the child and Weltman.

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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 year after Weltman was charged.

Weltman joined Hillel in July 2016.

Matthew Berger, vice president of communications for Hillel International, last year said Weltman was placed on administrative leave when the organization learned about the allegations and then terminated by Iowa Hillel.

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

Weltman has remained free on bail since last year, and a judge ruled he could live in Illinois pending trial.

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

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