New Sentencing Hearing for Voyeuristic G'town Rabbi
After pleading guilty to videotaping 52 women taking a ritual bath at Kesher Israel synagogue and being sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison, Barry Freundel will head back to the D.C. Superior Court July 31 in a bid for a lesser sentence.
The rabbi's attorney, Jeffrey Harris, has argued in a motion to the court that Freundel should have been sentenced for one act of video voyeurism rather than for each women he videotaped. His current sentence is 45 days in prison for each of the 52 women he videotaped. Harris made the same argument about the sentence during the rabbi's May 15 sentencing hearing, but Senior Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin and prosecutors did not accept it. Alprin will preside over the July 31 hearing, and prosecutors have notified Freundel's victims about the recent legal developments. The Washington Post reports that "In several filings with the court, Harris and prosecutors have sparred over the legality of the sentence," calling the new argument "unusual."
To further his motion, Harris said that Freundel is in isolation at D.C. Jail for 23 hours a day due to threats made by other inmates. Sentencing guidelines on voyeurism cases require that Freundel serve at least 85 percent of his term.
Freundel was arrested in early October and charged with videotaping six nude women as they prepared to purify themselves in a ritual bath known as a mikvah. Ultimately, the rabbi plead guilty to charges of videotaping 52 women. But prosecutors say they found evidence of Freundel recording almost 100 other women. They are unable to bring charges on those allegations because the alleged crimes fall outside the three-year statute of limitation for voyeurism.