Rabbi Barry Freundel, the former spiritual leader at a prominent Washington synagogue, is expected to plead guilty to as many as 88 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism.
The plea deal was announced in a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia to Freundel’s victims that was obtained by the Washington Jewish Week. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon; it was delayed from the morning to allow for a larger courtroom that could handle the number of victims.
Freundel’s sentencing hearing is expected to be held two months after the plea agreement is accepted.
Freundel, 63, was arrested last October on six charges of voyeurism after investigators discovered secret cameras installed in the mikvah shower room and additional recording devices in his home. His Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel, immediately suspended him and later fired him, ordering him to vacate the shul’s rabbinic residence.
An oral agreement was reached on a plea offer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The plea offer included one count for every victim recorded during the statute of limitations and identified by a photograph submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“We also did not restrict our ability to seek incarceration or restitution for those victims identified during the statute of limitations in any way,” the letter said.
Prosecutors have told alleged victims that Freundel secretly recorded more than 150 women undressing at the mikvah.
Women who were videotaped as they used The National Capital Mikvah in the Georgetown section may submit a victim impact statement “expressing how this crime has impacted you,” the letter said. They also can give an oral impact hearing during sentencing.
Freundel, who reportedly separated from his wife after his arrest, had refused to leave his synagogue-owned residence, and the congregation has taken the case to the Beth Din of America. WTOP, a local news radio station, reported that he is now planning to vacate the house within two weeks.