Rabbi Barry Freundel pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday afternoon. The charges stem from secretly videotaping female converts and students as they took part in a sacred ritual bath known as a mikvah. Freundel used a clock radio containing a hidden camera to videotape the women as they undressed and showered in a changing area.
Each of the 52 counts carries with it a one-year maximum prison sentence. Thirty of the counts carry a $2,500 maximum fine and 22 counts each carry a $1,000 maximum fine. In sum, Rabbi Freundel faces a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison and a $97,000 fine. This potential penalty is separate from whatever he and his employers may face in civil court. Freundel’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 15 and victims may submit victim impact statements in the interim.
The prosecution requested that Freundel be placed in the high intensity supervision program along with GPS monitoring, but Judge Geoffrey Alprin did not grant this request on the grounds that Freundel knew about the plea deal for a week and did not flee. In addition, Freundel attends therapy in New York.
Prosecutors say Freundel videotaped at least 152 women, dating back to 2009. The prosecution alleged that Freundel videotaped 88 of his victims since 2012. Freundel was only charged with 52 counts of voyeurism, all misdemeanors, as the statute of limitations prevented them from bringing criminal charges for all instances in which he videotaped his victims. Even though they are outside the criminal statute of limitations, they may still be able to bring civil claims.
In October 2014, Freundel was arrested and initially charged with six misdemeanor counts of voyeurism after an attendant at Kesher Israel became suspicious of a clock radio, which later turned out to be the one he used to secretly videotape his victims. Police executed search warrants on his offices and home and recovered computer hard drives, storage devices, and other hidden camera equipped devices.
Prosecutors brought an additional 46 charges of voyeurism against Freundel after identifying victims with the evidence recovered. Prosecutors asked twice for a continuance in order to gather evidence and identify as many victims as possible.
Freundel was the leader of the Kesher Israel Synagogue in Georgetown for over 25 years and considered a leading authority in the field of modern Orthodox Judaism. He was a professor at Georgetown, Towson, and Baltimore Hebrew Universities. Freundel has been terminated from all of his teaching positions and has been suspended by the Rabbinical Council of America.
Additionally, Freundel has been asked to leave his Georgetown residence owned by the Kesher Israel Synagogue, which he has yet to comply with. Freundel has also granted his wife, a prominent local scholar, a religious divorce.
Freundel’s employers at Kesher Israel, Georgetown and Towson Universities, and the Rabbinical Council of America are all facing civil suits. The plaintiffs allege that Fruendel’s employers were negligent in their hiring, retention, and supervision of him as they should have known of the improprieties he was taking with female converts and law students he brought to the mikvah.
Several of the victims identified have retained The Cochran Firm, D.C. as legal counsel and we are actively investigating claims of invasion of privacy and negligence against Freundel’s employers in connection with his criminal charges of voyeurism.
The Cochran Firm, D.C. has a team of compassionate and dedicated attorneys that can help you recover damages and hold accountable those who ignored Freundel’s despicable actions. If you believe that you may have been secretly videotaped while participating in a mikvah at Kesher Israel Synagogue please contact us at 202-682-5800 during regular business hours, 24/7 at 1-800-THE-FIRM (843-3476), or by filling out a contact form.
We offer confidential, prompt, and free case evaluations. There are also no fees unless we recover for you. Strict time deadlines apply when filing claims so please contact us at your earliest convenience in order to preserve your rights.