Brothers testify in Lev Tahor kidnapping trial

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A former Monsey resident who joined a fringe sect of ultra Orthodox Judaism and is accused of kidnapping two children to return them to the group in Guatemala testified at his federal trial that he was convinced the children were being abused so he needed to help free them.

Shmiel Weingarten took the witness stand Friday in U.S. District Court in White Plains and finished Monday. His brother Yakev, took the witness stand Monday. The brothers defended not just themselves, but the lifestyle of the group, Lev Tahor, and counter testimony and widespread beliefs that it is a cult-like sect with abusive practices that include forcing minor girls to get married and have sex. Both brothers said they were teenagers when they married 15-year-old girls.

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