Orthodox Rabbi Barry Freundel, 63, former spiritual leader of Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, told the Washington D.C. Superior Court on Thursday that he had indeed secretly videotaped scores of naked women preparing for their ritual bath, the Washington Post reported.
Freundel pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism, one for each woman whose privacy he violated over the past three-years. The statute of limitations covers earlier taping—of which prosecutors suspect there have been as many as 150 more. His sentencing hearing is set for May 15.
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The Kesher Israel Board of Directors released a statement saying the “scope and duration of these horrible crimes are still hard to completely comprehend” and said therapists were available to those who wished to connect with them.
“Despite this great betrayal by Rabbi Freundel and our communal pain, we have seen a community that has come together and whose members have leaned on one another for support. As we move forward, we will continue to grow stronger and are committed to ensuring that our community remains a warm, welcoming, and safe place to gather, worship, and learn.”
Freundel served as the rabbi at Kesher Israel for 25 years. The board fired him in November and ordered him to vacate his home, which the synagogue owns, by Jan. 1. So far he hasn’t left—but he will probably be leaving shortly after the sentencing.
Prosecutors have told Freundel’s victims that “as victims of crime, you will have the right to submit a written as well as an oral victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing, expressing how this crime has impacted you.”