Jury selection marks first day of Weltman trial

During the first day of former Iowa Hillel Director David Weltman’s trial, 6th District Judge Chad Kepros ruled on motions related to witness testimony and the jury was formed.


Nichole Harris

The Johnson County Courthouse is seen on March 3, 2020.

Brooklyn Draisey, Managing Editor

The first day of former Iowa Hillel Director David Weltman’s trial began with jury selection following rulings from 6th District Judge Chad Kepros determining which witness testimony will be allowed in trial. 

Weltman was charged Aug. 29 with second-degree sexual abuse after being accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old boy during Hebrew lessons in February or March 2019. 

Before jury selection began, Kepros ruled on a number of motions filed by both the prosecution and defense. Following a motion in limine hearing Feb. 25, Kepros ruled that most proposed witness testimony will be allowed in the rest of the trial, according to documents filed Monday.

However, Weltman’s ex-girlfriend Nilie Krausz will not be permitted to be called a witness by the state, according to Kepros’ ruling. 

Krausz was expected to testify about conversations she said she had with Weltman when they dated, where Weltman allegedly said he was sexually attracted to boys between the ages of 7 and 12. He also allegedly confided to Krausz that he had masturbated to foreign films showing naked children. Weltman and Krausz dated for around eight months, starting in September 2017. 

“All of Ms. Krausz’s anticipated testimony represents improper character evidence, or evidence whose probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice,” court documents read. 

The defense argued that Krausz’s testimony would be irrelevant in finding out whether or not the crime occured. 

Kepros also ruled to allow testimony from John Meidlinger, an expert witness, because he has never met any of the other witnesses and does not know any charges in the case. The defense moved to bar his testimony with concerns of Medilinger commenting on the victim’s credibility. The court cautioned the state in the documents to not allow Medilinger to speak on the credibility of the victim or child victims in general. 

Witnesses who traveled with Weltman to Israel after the alleged incident were not limited in their testimony in Kepros’ ruling. These witnesses — one of them the minor — are expected to speak about Weltman’s behavior before and after the trip toward the minor. 

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According to court documents, evidence the witnesses can provide about the “planning of the trip, sleeping arrangements, events occurring between the defendant and [the minor witness], and [the minor witness]’s reactions” will be helpful if the jury needs to determine the nature of the relationship between Weltman and the victim, both before and after the conflict, and whether Weltman built the relationship in order to satisfy sexual desires. 

Assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann Smith in Tuesday’s jury selection asked about the potential jurors’ backgrounds and families, as well as their thoughts on DNA evidence and how their thoughts on the credibility of a witness would change if that witness was a child. 

Defense attorney Christopher Foster asked the potential jurors about the importance of hearing both sides of a story to come to a verdict and how sure jurors need to be that the state has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Wednesday’s court proceedings will start with opening statements and is expected to last two to four days. 

*Kayli Reese contributed to this report.*

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