Nussbaum Tells of Drug Abuse and Hypnotism

Associated Press

The former lover of accused child killer Joel Steinberg testified today under cross-examination that she used heroin, marijuana and cocaine and believed in the powers of hypnosis.

In an effort to discredit star witness Hedda Nussbaum’s testimony, the attorney for Steinberg questioned Nussbaum about her drug use and her involvement with cults and programming.

Nussbaum, who lived with Steinberg for 17 years until the death a year ago of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg, their illegally adopted daughter, has directly implicated him in Lisa’s death and painted him as a bullying drug abuser.

Under questioning by defense lawyer Ira London, Nussbaum said that hypnotic suggestions and programming led her to believe that she had had “sex with everybody in the world.”


She testified that she once believed in the power of hypnosis and of certain post-hypnotic words, which when heard could trigger certain actions.

“I was hypnotizing everyone . . . and was using them sexually,” Nussbaum said.

At that point, London asked her if he detected the beginnings of a smile on her face.

“Yes,” she said. “I just realized the absurdity of it.”


Her testimony came one day after state Supreme Court Justice Harold Rothwax denied a defense motion to change Steinberg’s plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. The Supreme Court is New York’s trial-level court.

Lisa’s death in a household with affluent, well-educated adults shocked many and led to a re-examination of the duty and ability of neighbors, teachers and social workers to recognize and report evidence of child abuse.