Sunday, May 10, 2015

'Peeping rabbi' Barry Freundel could face 17-year sentence

update from Washington Post - 25 page memo from prosecutor

Haaretz    Prosecutors are seeking a 17-year prison sentence for a prominent Washington rabbi who pleaded guilty in February to secretly videotaping dozens of women during ritual baths, court documents filed on Friday showed. 

Prosecutors say Rabbi Barry Freundel, 63, recorded the women between early 2009 and October 2014 using devices installed in two changing rooms for the National Capital Mikvah, which is next to the Kesher synagogue in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood. 

The prosecutors said in court papers they were asking the judge to sentence Freundel to four months for each of the 52 misdemeanor counts of voyeurism to which he pleaded guilty. 

That represents a third of the maximum penalty available for the judge, but the prosecutors called the 17-year recommendation “a reasonable and just punishment for this severe conduct that falls on the extreme end of the voyeurism spectrum.” 

Freundel, who also is facing civil lawsuits, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 15.[...]
================================update ============
Washington Post

In a 25-page memo, prosecutors attacked Freundel’s credibility as a religious leader and said he lived a “double life.” Prosecutors said they found videos of the rabbi, who is married, having sex with several women.

In another part of the memo, prosecutors wrote of a woman videotaped by Freundel who had been a victim of domestic abuse for more than 10 years. Freundel offered her support, even setting her up in an apartment away from her husband. Yet, un­beknownst to the woman, Freundel placed recording devices in the apartment’s bedroom and bathroom, according to the memo.

Prosecutors said Freundel used an “elaborate” cataloguing system to identify each video of his victims by number and included the women’s names or initials.

“He used his position of trust to take advantage of a place of peacefulness, spirituality, and privacy, deceiving women into attending, and surreptitiously recording his congregants, students, and potential converts ­naked,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Zubrensky wrote in the memo. [...]


  1. Kethuboth 96b:

     R.Hiyya b. Abba stated in the
    name of R. Johanan. A man who deprives his student of [the privilege of]
    attending on him acts as if he had deprived him of [an act of] kindness, for it
    is said in Scripture, To him that deprives [למס
    to melt] his friend [the student one
    teaches] of kindness.26 R. Nahman b. Isaac said: He also deprives [lit. breaks
    off] him of the fear of heaven, for it is said in Scripture, And he forsaketh
    the fear of the Almighty [Job 6:14] .

    Job 6:11-14:

    “What strength have I, that I should
    endure? How long have I to live, that I should be patient? Is my strength the
    strength of rock? Is my flesh bronze? Truly, I cannot help myself; I have been
    deprived of resourcefulness. A friend owes loyalty to one who fails, Though he
    forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

    I apply this to Barry Freundel. He failed. He is deprived of resources. He
    cannot help himself. We, his friends,
    should take his side even at the expense of fear of G-d. We should help him get the lightest possible
    sentence. Fear of G-d argues for more punishment. We should look for leniencies and excuses to
    minimize what he did. He is our
    friend. He needs our help more than
    ever. Job was angry at his friends for
    being so fickle at his time of need: “My comrades are fickle, like a wadi, Like
    a bed on which streams once ran” (Job 6:15).

  2. Sad. My two cents: His most serious crime was not for having a yetzer hora and not even for acting on his impulses, but rather for breaching the trust of the women who put their faith in the assumption that, as a rabbi, he would be trusted to provide them with a safe, voyeur-free atmosphere in which to perform their ritual immersion. The others are forgivable, but this one is not.

  3. See my above comment. A rabbi needs to know that his congregants trust him. With that in mind, he should have been able to help himself. It is not the lack of fear of G-d, but the breach of people's trust. People rely on you. Not being there for them is a crime.

  4. Washington DC where I was born is a rabbinical Sedom. The biggest positions are being taken by Open Orthodox rabbis who don't believe in the Torah except as it appeals to them. The major rabbis of Washington urge the public humiliation of a husband who went to a prominent Beth Din with his wife who ran away from him and the Beth Din, and now the husband is the demon, not the wife. It is a sick city. And nobody there to my knowledge is willing to say the truth. How bad it is now is just the beginning. Heaven should help us. Because there are fine people in Washington who do believe in the Torah and the Shulchan Aruch. And when one rabbi was confronted with his disagreeing with the Shulchan Aruch, he replied, "We don't always follow the Shulchan Aruch." But when we don't follow the Shulchan Aruch, on rare occasions, this is because we rely on many great authorities who had the greatness to disagree with the Shulchan Aruch. Washington is hefker. Any GET given there is probably invalid as I don't know if one rabbis there is an accepted expert on Even Hoezer. If people like that disagree with the Shulchan Aruch it is not because they have the sources to do so but because they are hefker and want a city of hefker.

  5. this is a "book" he wrote
    "Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's Response to Modernity"
    I could make many jokes, but I think he has nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism, or Orthodoxy.

  6. I looked at the cover of the
    book. The book may be ok. The book seems better than Mendel Epstein et
    al writings. We have to show sensitivity to a convicted felon facing
    incarceration. May Hashem have mercy on Freundel
    and on Mendel Epstein et al and all convicted felons. I still want to see the
    transcripts of Rabbi Ralbag, Waxman etc.

  7. People rely on you. Not being there for them is a crime.

    Perhaps, he should have spent more time learning ב"ב נ"ז ע"ב, where it states:

    ועוצם עיניו מראות ברע א"ר חייא בר אבא זה שאין מסתכל בנשים בשעה שעומדות על הכביסה

  8. רבי יוחנן בן ברוקה אומר, כל המחלל שם שמיים בסתר, נפרעין ממנו בגלוי.

  9. First of all, that Gemara has absolutely nothing to do with his sin. Second, I was not at all condemning him for succumbing to his Yetzer Hara.

  10. First of all, that Gemara has absolutely nothing to do with his sin.

    So, the גמרא I cited, which deals with not leering at women, has "has absolutely nothing to do with his sin." Why is that? Because you say so?

    Second, I was not at all condemning him for succumbing to his Yetzer Hara.

    So, if he didn't succumb to his יצר הרע, to what did he succumb? Are you some kind of מפליג לכל דבר?

  11. Nat, were you not taking a different line regarding porn in yeshivas?

  12. Nat, the quote you had on a previosu thread was "Ain Apotropos Le'arayos. If someone told you that a rosh yeshiva or a
    choshuva rov was secluded with a girl, would you also be denying that he
    would have time to sin? Why is a computer different?"

    I agree with that quote - but why is this guy suddenly to be given the benefit of the doubt?

  13. Are you some kind of מפליג לכל דבר?

    Projecting again.

    1) His sin is incomparable to a person that refrains from looking at women while laundering their household items. The Gemara in Baba Basra calls him a Rasha for having put himself in this situation, despite the fact that he did not look at the women.

    Here Mr. Freundel did look at the women. He spent hundreds of hours just editing the video clips! Here he sought out all different types of ways to see these women. His actions were not the convenience of a quicker route. Au contraire, his actions were difficult and well planned out.

    2) Nat agrees that he committed a terrible crime. However, him succumbing to temptation may have been forgivable. What is unforgivable, in Nat's view, is abusing his the breach in the relationship with his congregants - where he used them for his personal temptations.

    "Rabbi suspected of installing cameras in men's mikveh"
    More "machmmir" in his aveiros, wanting to outdo Freundel, by engaging in mishkav zachor.

  15. Is the mikve becoming the "studio" for the orthodox porn industry?


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