A prominent rabbi, who admitted videotaping naked women as they prepare for their mikvah (ritual bath) immersion, was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison in Washington, D.C. Superior Court.
Rabbi Barry Freundel pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism and admitted recording the women between 2012 to 2014 using devices he secretly installed in changing rooms. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in prison. Freundel was given 45 days for each count.
Before the sentence was handed down, Freundel apologized to his victims.
“I was wrong. I am sorry. I did terrible things. I make no bones about it. I was in a terrible place. It tears my guts out to think of the innocent people I’ve traumatized. I am sorry.” Freundel said.
Senior Judge Geoffrey Alprin said, in sentencing the rabbi, “You repeatedly and secretly violated the trust your victims had in you and you abused your power.”
Freundel was also ordered to pay more than $2,000 in fines.
Prosecutors originally asked for a 17-year sentence, while the rabbi’s lawyer asked for a community service sentence rather than jail time because he already suffered job loss and public humiliation.
18 of his victims gave their testimonies before a packed courtroom during the hearing.
One victim said: “He lectured us about the evils of porn while turning us into his own porn stars.
Emma Shulevitz, a victim who agreed to be named, said: “He took our freedom and now he has to live without his.”
There were also who spoke in defense of Freundel, saying he was a changed man since his arrest, adding he was inspiring and rehabilitated.