Rabbi Barry Freundel Pleads Not Guilty To Taping 6 Women in Mikveh
Rabbi Barry Freundel recorded secret videos of at least six women women showering at the mikvah in his synagogue, according to allegations filed by authorities at his arraignment on Wednesday afternoon.
Freundel, 62, pleaded not guilty to a charge of voyeurism, a misdemeanor, and was freed without bond.
The details from the charging documents were posted on Twitter by WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein.
According to Augenstein’s account, the police found backed-up videos of the six women, plus video of Freundel himself setting up the camera.
Police were seen removing computers and other electronic equipment from Freundel’s home Tuesday morning after they led him out in handcuffs.
Fruendel was arrested by police on Tuesday at his home in the U.S. capital’s upscale Georgetown neighborhood, a few blocks from his modern Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel Congregation.
Judge William Nooter ordered Freundel to stay away from all individuals he had helped convert to Judaism and participated with in the Jewish ritual bathing process known as mikvah, according to court documents online.
He was also ordered to stay away from the Kesher Israel synagogue and the National Capital Mikvah.
According to a police report, one alleged victim, a 35-year-old woman, told police she saw Freundel plugging in a black alarm clock that contained a video recording device while she was preparing to take a mikvah at the synagogue.
Freundel explained to her the device was for ventilation purposes, according to the report. Kesher Israel has suspended Freundel without pay.
According to a copy of the complaint by prosecutors posted online, Freundel is seen on video obtained by the police adjusting the angle of the hidden camera.
“The defendant is seen on numerous occasions setting up and operating the Recording Device in the showing area and changing area connected to the Mikvah,” the complaint reads. “The defendant is seen positioning the Recording Device so that it faced the shower and, by so doing, the Recording Device was able to capture unsuspecting women totally or partially undressed or changing clothes without their knowledge and consent.”
Two women were captured in videos recorded on June 2. Four more women were captured on videos that appear to have been recorded on September 13, according to the complaint.
“The video captures them exiting the shower and drying off before getting dressed,” the complaint reads.
The mikvah at Kesher Israel is currently the only functioning Orthodox mikvah in Washington, D.C.
The Forward reported earlier today that two rabbinic organizations had investigated unrelated allegations of sexual impropriety made against Freundel this past summer. Both organizations told the Forward that their investigations were hampered by the accuser’s inability to document is allegations. Neither took action against Freundel, and neither informed Kesher Israel’s board of their investigations.