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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Rabbi Pleads Guilty to Secretly Taping Women

(CN) - A prominent Washington D.C. rabbi pleaded guilty on Thursday to 52 counts of videotaping naked women as they prepared for a ritual bath, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Rabbi Barry Freundel was arrested on October 14, 2014, on charges he videotaped six women while was the spiritual leader at the orthodox Kesher Israel Congregation, in Washington's upscale Georgetown neighborhood.

According to prosecutors, the 63-year-old rabbi was seen entering the synagogue's large changing area and shower room two days earlier and placing a digital clock radio on a countertop facing the private bath.

A short time later, an unidentified individual associated with the mikvah, a ritual cleansing bath, discovered the clock contained a hidden recording device and turned it over to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

After an initial investigation, the department executed search warrants to seek evidence at Freundel's home and office at Towson University, and computer forensic exam revealed the rabbi had taped scores of women on 25 different dates between March 4, 2012 and Sept. 19, 2014.

The search also allegedly revealed the taping was far more elaborate than originally believed, with three different hidden cameras being deployed to capture different naked women from a variety of angles, The Jewish Daily Forward said.

Since Freundel's arrest,, prosecutors have said the rabbi may have videotaped as many as 150 women as undressed for their mikvah. Of those, 52 were identified as having been taped within the three-year statute of limitations.

Freundel entered his guilty plea before Court Judge Geoffrey Alprin in the D.C. Superior Court.

Prior to his plea, prosecutors sent a note to victims assuring them they will still get a chance to submit written and/or oral victim impact statements at the rabbi's sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for May 15.

Freundel led Kesher Israel, one of the D.C. area's most prominent Orthodox synagogues for 25 years. Among those who worshiped there over the years were former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Atlantic magazine editor Leon Wieseltier, according to The Washington Post.

The synagogue's board fired Freundel in November, and ordered him to leave the home they provided for him by January 1. However, published reports suggest he has yet to do so.

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