Rabbi Barry Freundel, formerly of the Kesher Israel Synagogue in Georgetown, was in Washington, D.C. Superior Court on Jan. 21 to answer for voyeurism charges. Prosecutors allege that Freundel secretly videotaped six women as they disrobed in preparation for a sacred bath known as a mikvah. During the short hearing, prosecutors were granted additional time in order to review video evidence and identify more victims. Freundel will appear again in D.C. Superior Court on February 19.
Freundel allegedly videotaped his victims using a clock radio equipped with a hidden camera as they removed clothing in preparation to bathe at the National Capital Mikvah. Victims bringing civil suits allege he encouraged them to take “practice dunks” in the mikvah either as research for courses he taught at Georgetown Law Center or in preparation for their conversion to Judaism.
A group of demonstrators appeared at D.C. Superior Court on the day of the hearing, wearing blue clothing to show support for victims of the alleged voyeurism perpetrated by Rabbi Freundel. Outside the court, they held signs that read #NOPLEADEAL and #SAFEMIKVEH. The group was made up of victims advocates and even former converts sponsored by Rabbi Freundel.
In the wake of his arrest, Freundel was fired from his teaching positions at Georgetown University, Towson University, and Baltimore Hebrew University. He was also fired from Kesher Israel Synagogue, suspended by the Rabbinical Council of America, and has reportedly been evicted from his home in Georgetown owned by Kesher Israel.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed since Rabbi Freundel was arrested by Washington, D.C. Metropolitan police in October. Georgetown University, Kesher Israel Synagogue, The National Capital Mikvah, and the Rabbinical Council of America have all been named as parties.
The lawsuits allege negligence in hiring, retention, supervision and training as well as invasion of privacy. The lawsuits also assert Freundel’s employers knew or should have known of his alleged activities and taken steps to properly deal with allegations he took improprieties with his students and converts.
The Cochran Firm, D.C. is actively investigating claims stemming from Rabbi Barry Freundel’s voyeurism charges.