October 23, 2014

Prominent rabbi allegedly invaded women’s privacy

Police have alleged that prominent a Washington, D.C. rabbi secretly videotaped at least six women in a changing and shower area of a synagogue. Dr. Barry Freundel faces charges that he installed a camera disguised as a clock in a private shower of the National Capital Mikvah. Freundel was the rabbi at the Kesher Israel Orthodox synagogue of Georgetown, which is associated with the mikvah.

Freundel has been charged with voyeurism and pleaded not guilty. D.C. Superior Court Judge William Nooter ordered Freundel to stay away from individuals who participated with in the ritual bathing process and to stay away from the Kesher Israel synagogue and the National Capital Mikveh.

According to police, the alleged victim told police she saw Freundel plug in an alarm clock containing a video recording device while she prepared to take part in a ritual bathing process known as a mikveh. The victim alleges Freundel told her the clock was for ventilation purposes. The same alleged victim said she observed that the clock was missing a few days later and grew suspicious, according to the police report.

The alleged victim took the clock when she saw it again and allegedly found what looked like a video camera inside the device and a memory card, according to police. She gave the clock to the police, who said they discovered more than 100 deleted files on the memory card with some files labeled with women’s names.

The Freundel case bears similarity to the Johns Hopkins incident involving gynecologist Dr. Nikita Levy, who secretly recorded his female patients. A female colleague of Dr. Levy was suspicious about a pen he routinely wore around his neck and informed officials at Johns Hopkins about her suspicions, initiating an investigation into whether he secretly recorded patients. When confronted with his colleague’s concerns, Dr. Levy handed over several recording devices, including a similar pen camera, to investigators, according to reports. A subsequent search by law enforcement officials of Dr. Levy’s home revealed 10 computer servers containing thousands of files. Some of Dr. Levy’s patients have said he made inappropriate remarks during medical examinations, touched them unnecessarily, and conducted needless physical exams.

David Haynes, the managing attorney of The Cochran Firm, D.C., is a member of the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the Johns Hopkins litigation. The plaintiffs sued Johns Hopkins for, among other things, invasion of privacy, intrusion upon seclusion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, and lack of informed consent. Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay $190 million to the victims of Dr. Levy.