Washington – Prosecutors: Voyeuristic Rabbi Filmed 152 Women

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    Barry Freundel Washington – A rabbi accused of secretly videotaping nude women at a Jewish ritual bath recorded more than 150 women, prosecutors said during a meeting with victims, the first specifics they have given on the scope of the man’s recording.

    When prosecutors charged Barry Freundel with voyeurism late last year, they based the accusations on recordings of six women but indicated more had been filmed. During a meeting with victims Wednesday evening at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, prosecutors discussed the number of victims revealed by an investigation along with the benefits of a plea deal in the case.

    The meeting was closed to the press. But three people who attended told The Associated Press what was discussed. Two individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the closed-door meeting.

    The third person, a victim, is not being identified because The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes.

    Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, did not immediately return a call Thursday requesting comment. William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia, which is prosecuting the case, declined comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

    Freundel, 63, was a rabbi at the Kesher Israel synagogue in Washington for over 25 years and a prominent orthodox rabbi before his October arrest on voyeurism charges. Court documents accuse him of setting up a recording device disguised as a digital clock radio in the changing and showering area of The National Capital Mikvah, a ritual cleansing bath affiliated with Kesher Israel that opened in 2005.

    Police arrested Freundel on Oct. 14 after a person associated with the mikvah discovered the hidden camera. Police initially found videos of six women entering and exiting a mikvah shower, and court documents say Freundel appears on film setting up the recording device. A search of his home turned up other media storage devices, and he has since been fired from the synagogue.

    During Wednesday’s meeting, prosecutors told victims, their spouses and some lawyers representing them that an investigation had determined Freundel had filmed 152 women. Prosecutors said 88 of the women had been filmed within the last three years. They said another 64 were filmed going back to 2009, though a statute of limitations bars prosecutors from charging Freundel with voyeurism based on those recordings.

    The next hearing in the case is Feb. 19.

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    39 COMMENTS

    1. 152???!!! This is one of the biggest rabbinical scandals in the entire history of Yiddishkeit. The outcome of which is that this man will go down as being responsible for losing more Frum Yidden to the conservative and reform streams than any other single rabbi.

      • Its not clear as a matter of halacha whether it makes a difference if the Rav illicitly photographed one naked woman in mikvah or 152 women in mikvah. In either case, he did so without permission of those involved and violated their privacy in a totally inappropriate way. The numbers aren’t really important. This type of pritzus is clearly assur. Unfortunately, the matter is now in the secular courts rather than being adjudicated in a beis din as the Rav had proposed. This means the matter will continue to draw national attention and embaress the women involved, most of whom would rather that a beis din of chasuhuve rabbonim from the Washington/Baltimore area take responsibility for determining what punishment should be imposed.

        • “whether it makes a difference… one naked woman in mikvah or 152 women”. That logic is equal to saying that a ganov (thief) makes no difference if he stole one dollar or a million dollars, and whether he stole from one person or 152 people, it is the same issur in halacha. How silly!

        • It really kills me when such sensitive issues are disclosed and published for the world to read. Having said that, beis-dins have lately been proven currupt/paid for/non-talmide Chachamim. When you repeatedly here about bais din letting molesters and abusers go free because they’re trying to make believe the problem doesn’t exist, you completely lose faith

          • “Having said that, beis-dins have lately been proven currupt/paid for/non-talmide Chachamim”

            Exactly the reason why these things need to be disclosed for the world to see. Maybe then will something be done to correct the problems instead of trying to pretend that they don’t exist. That kind of make believe no longer works in 2015.

        • “Its not clear as a matter of halacha whether it makes a difference if the Rav illicitly photographed one naked woman in mikvah or 152 women in mikvah.”

          As a matter of הלכה? Are you seriously suggesting that להלכה, there is no difference if one woman or 152 women were subjected to בושה ברבים (investigators viewed the tapes)? Can you please supply a מקור for this so called הלכה? In any event, let me suggest that you leave the ‘Rabbinics’ to those more qualified.

        • “Unfortunately, the matter is now in the secular courts rather than being adjudicated in a beis din as the Rav had proposed”

          Nonsense…a beis din would have neither the resources nor the expertise to investigate such a case professionally. This case is a perfect example why the inyun of moiser doesn’t work, l’ maiser, in the context of modern, scientific law enforcement. to repeat, it simply does not work.

    2. Freundel is only one of 152 perpetrators of the crime. The US Attorneys office, the Washington police department along with countless experts in the various fields had dozens of men view the women without their consent thereby increasing the damage a hundred tmes over. All this in the name of justice. And its not because they don’t realize it. They realize very well.

    3. #2
      here we go again- encouraging dealing with bais din, when we all know that the ‘rav’ would have been slapped on his wrist and secretly forced to move, where he would go to another community and commit the same heinous act.
      the only way to deal with this behema is to incarcerate him. Let’s he how long he will last with new congregants.

    4. I can’t read the details. He ashamed Klal Yisroel and used our Holiest thing for his dirtiest action. now many women will also use this as an excuse to skip Mikva.. So sad. Hang him!

    5. My wife’s mikvah sent a letter a few months back. They performed a complete security sweep and found no recording devices. And they’ll repeat it in the future as needed.

      I guess it’s a consequence of living in the internet age.

    6. הִנֵּה-זֶה עוֹמֵד, אַחַר כָּתְלֵנוּ–מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן-הַחַלֹּנוֹת, מֵצִיץ מִן-הַחֲרַכִּים.

    7. #2 nah, Australia has just finished a Royal Commission into CSA by Yeshivah Melbourne and Sydney and has heard preposterous testimony from top Rabbis of Australia.

    8. Is the problem here that Freundel has only one shirt, or that VIM has only one stock photo of him? Additionally, isn’t he wearing his תפלה של ראש like a צדוקי?

        • “Since when did Ztedukim wear Tefillin??”

          Apparently, you’re not familiar with the רמב”ם הלכות תפילין פרק ו הלכה ג, which states:

          המניח תפלה של יד על פס ידו או של ראש על מצחו הרי זה דרך צדוקים

          צדוקים certainly did wear תפילין according to the רמב”ם.

          • Very good,

            However the ‘Girsa’ you are using is the standard European (censored) RambaM. The Frankel and Kapach edition of the RambaM has it as:

            ג המניח תפילין של יד על פס ידו, או של ראש על מצחו–הרי זו דרך המינות; העושה תפילתו עגולה כאגוז, אין בה מצוה כלל. איטר–מניח תפילין בימינו, שהיא לו כשמאל; ואם היה שולט בשתי ידיו–מניח אותה בשמאלו, שהיא שמאל כל אדם. ומקום קשירת התפילין ומקום הנחתן, מפי השמועה למדום.

            The word Tzeduki was often inserted in place of the word ‘Min’ due to censorship.

            Incidentally the RambaM is quoting a Mishna in Megila (24b) in which the mishna states:
            : מתני ,י האומר איני עובר לפני התיבה בצבועין אף בלבנים לא יעבור בסנדל איני עובר אף יחף לא יעבור כהעושה תפלתו עגולה סכנח ואין בח מצוח נתנח על מצחו או על פס ידו חד זו דרך המינות יילציפן זהב ונתנה על בית אונקלי שלו ה״ז דרך חחיצונים

            think about it since when do Tzadukim follow the oral tradition?

            Good Shabbos !

    9. There were never indications that Freundel was this type of menuvel but throughout his tenure as “rabbi” there were many, many, many signs that he was no good. Unfortunately his synagogue never acknowledged that. Here is an example of what I tried to tell them and the Vaad of Greater Washington:
      When I moved into Washington, DC some years ago I took a walk downriver along the bank of the Potomac from Washington Harbor (where there is a seawall) towards the Kennedy Center. Along the way I noticed the absence of the seawall and the water becoming shallower particularly near the Thomson Boat Center and the Watergate complex. When I asked the rabbi who set up the Eruv how the river edge was sloped enough to constitute an eruv border, he insisted that despite what I had observed, there was a seawall along the entire riverbank. He said that all cities have seawalls along the river edges to prevent erosion and that I just didn’t see it. At the time I mistakenly thought he just didn’t want to bother explaining the details but I could not imagine that he was so incompetent as to jeopardize the Shemiras Shabbos of his congregation. [There was more but the comment space is too short for it]

      • This past summer Rabbi Marc Shenier announced that he had erected an eruv around West Hampton. He insisted it wouldn’t be an eyesore to the neighbors as he used clear plastic which would be difficult to see. Many it seems relied on and used that eruv.
        Recently someof the neoghbors went out to see how invisible it really was and discovered the reason why it was difficult to see: It didn’t exist! The erection of the eruv was a fraud perpetrated on the people.

    10. ” that term is usually applied to a male who observes somebody secretly and, generally, not in a public place.”
      I think that most of the people in the world do it, the difference is only he didn’t get their permission first!
      And he also recorded it.
      And he was officially “clergy”

    11. (continuing my comment #25)
      “I then checked with the manager of the Thomson Boat Center and absolutely verified that there was no seawall in that area [where Rock Creek empties into the Potomac River]. I do not know the status of other sections of the river since I never looked elsewhere but I do know for certain that particular section has shallow areas which appeared not to have a sufficient slope to count as an eruv border and obviously had not been checked for such since the rabbi had the false presumption, which he told me more than once, that there was a seawall that he used as an eruv border. This also means he didn’t check other sections of the riverbanks either.”
      I believe the current Rav Hamachshir, Rabbi Chaim (Howard) Jachter of Teaneck, has now corrected any flaws Freundel made in the Rabbi Philip Rabinowitz Memorial Eruv.
      For many years the Mr. Freundel got away with lies and distortions of the Torah. The evidence plus this statement of his in a Jewish Week article about Modern Orthodoxy 6 years ago (Feb 5, 199) indicates why he should have been removed from his rabbinic post years ago: “I can’t be worried about what other people and their concerns are.”

    12. Unfortunately another charlatan “rabbi” still gets away with fooling the public because his heresy isn’t quite as “scandalous”. Nevertheless as Ben Azai Pirkei Avos says Perek 4, Mishnah 2: Run to perform [even] a minor mitzvah (commandment) and flee from sin, for one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah, and one sin leads to another sin; for the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah and the ‘reward’ of a sin is a sin.”
      Oh yes, the lechai’in and lintels of his eruv are there. But the ochel is in an inaccessible place and the “owner” has proven he will be angry if it is eaten by those he hates and bars from “his” YOUNG ISRAEL synagogue. YOUNG ISRAEL of Las Vegas only “appears” to have an eruv. But in reality its eruv is as kosher as a kosher-style restaurant that cooks on Shabbos.
      See http://cleanupyoungisrael.blogspot.com/ for more details.

      Shulchan Aruch/Orach Chaim/366
      סעיף ה – צריך שלא יקפיד שום אחד
      מהם על ערובו אם יאכלנו חברו, ואם
      מקפיד אינו ערוב, לכך צריך לזהר שלא
      לערב בדבר שתקן לצרך השבת

      Shulchan Aruch/Orach Chaim/394
      סעיף ג – נתנו במגדל ונעל בפניו ואבד
      המפתח קדם שחשכה, אם אי אפשר
      להוציא הערוב אלא אם כן עשה מלאכה
      גמורה בין השמשות, הרי זה כמי שאבד
      ואינו ערוב, שהרי אי אפשר לאכלו

    13. Big part of the problem is that the rabbi and his former shul are very modern and commingling of the sexes is constant. From there it is a much smaller step from what he allegedly did than it would be from a frum rav in a frum shul.

      Gut shabbos.

    14. The problem was the blind-eye Freundel’s congregation turned to his hypocrisy and obvious distortions of the Torah and Halacha under the guise of “Modern Orthodoxy”. The term “Modern Orthodox” has become a catchall phrase to excuse laxity in following Halacha. Freundel was interested in only one thing, himself. It would not have mattered if he called himself Chareidi. He was a liar and cheat just like the YOUNG ISRAEL rabbi of Las Vegas. The difference there is that a Bais Din DID recognize the Yitz sWyne is a moser and declared him as such. The problem is that the National Council of Young Israel has covered up the excommunication and all the Young Israel rabbis of other branches know about it and are participating in the coverup with their silence. See http://cleanupyoungisrael.blogspot.com/ for details

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