DC Rabbi Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Videotaping Nude Synagogue Members
Rabbi Barry Freundel was sentenced to 6-1/2 years for secretly videotaping dozens of women naked in the mikveh of his high-profile Washington D.C. synagogue. The disgraced cleric was sentenced to 45 days for each of 52 counts of voyeurism. The courtroom cheered the decision and Freundel was taken into custody immediately D.C. Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin called Freundel’s sex spree at the Kesher Israel ritual bath a “classic case of abuse of power and violation of trust.” Dozens of women wore orange to the hearing to back a prison sentence for the rabbi, whom they say violated their trust and trampled on common decency. Freundel pleaded for his freedom, claiming that he was a changed man and hoped to make amends. The mikveh, or ritual bath, is used most frequently as purification by people converting to Judaism and by Jewish women seven days after the end of their menstrual cycle. Police began investigating Freundel, who headed the Kesher synagogue for 25 years, when a woman found a camera in a clock radio in the bathing area and turned it over to officers. “I was violated … my rabbi is a pervert,” one unidentified victim said, according to court documents. Another said: “We were at our most holy and our most naked, and he was watching it all.”The synagogue counts many major DC figures among its members, including Sen. Joe Lieberman. Freundel, who was fired in January, could have faced a much longer sentence but about 100 additional counts could not be levied due to the statute of limitations.