Updated 4:35 p.m.
(JTA) — The jail sentence of Rabbi Barry Freundel, a once-prominent Modern Orthodox rabbi in Washington, D.C. who secretly filmed women in his synagogue’s mikvah, has been shortened by over a year due to good behavior, his lawyer said.
Freundel’s 6 1/2-year sentence also was reduced because he participated as an instructor in a program to educate other inmates, the attorney, Jeffrey Harris, told JTA on Thursday.
A day earlier, the D.C. Department of Corrections had sent an email to Freundel’s victims saying the rabbi would be released on Aug. 21. On Thursday, however, the department sent another email saying that Freundel will be released on Aug. 21, 2020. Director Quincy Booth told JTA in a statement that the original email was sent in error.
Bethany Mandel, one of the women Freundel had filmed, said the ordeal had been “pretty frustrating.”
“The whole thing just threw us into an upheaval, making us prematurely consider the possibility of seeing him around and having him be an actual person that we might see in a restaurant,” she told JTA on the phone. “I don’t think any of us really put any thought of it until this week, for better or for worse now it’s something to consider. 2020 isn’t that far away.”
Freundel, 66, who began serving his sentence in May 2015, was sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism, a charge that carries up to a year’s incarceration. The sentencing judge ordered Freundel to serve 45 days on each count, with the sentences to be served consecutively.
Prior to his arrest in 2014, Freundel was the longtime rabbi of Kesher Israel in the Georgetown section of Washington and an active member of the Rabbinical Council of America, an Orthodox rabbinic group.
Freundel is believed to have violated the privacy of at least 150 women, whom he filmed while they undressed and showered at the mikvah, or ritual bath.
Josefin Dolsten is a former news fellow at the Forward, writing about politics and culture, and editing the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten .
Mikveh-Peeping Rabbi Barry Freundel Gets Reduced Sentence For Good Behavior