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  • D.C. Court of Appeals Upholds Freundel's 6.5-Year Jail Sentence

    Posted By Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. || 30-Sep-2016

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    In a recent opinion by a three-judge panel, the D.C. Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed Rabbi Barry Freundel’s criminal conviction for secretly videotaping women who were partially or totally undressed during a religious bathing ritual. D.C. law generally prohibits imposing multiple sentences for a single offense. Freundel’s lawyer argued that Freundel’s voyeurism stemmed from a single course of conduct and that therefore, Freundel should only be sentenced for one voyeurism charge. The court was unpersuaded and upheld Freundel’s 6.5 year sentence for 52 counts of voyeurism.

    Each count of voyeurism carries up to one year in prison. The trial judge sentenced Freundel to 45 days imprisonment on each count, which totals to about 6.5 years.

    Freundel was the rabbi of Kesher Israel Synagogue and in charge of the National Capital Mikvah when he was arrested in 2014 for secretly videotaping naked women who were taking part in a bathing ritual. In pleading guilty, Freundel acknowledged that he placed video-recording devices inside a showering and changing room of a facility used for a religious bathing ritual known as a mikvah. Recording devices were found by police hidden in a radio, a tabletop fan, and a tissue-box holder.

    The Court of Appeals noted that a defendant may receive multiple punishments for separate acts that violate the same statute. Freundel argued that his sentence violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which holds that no person may be punished twice for the same offense.

    The Court of Appeals rejected Freundel’s argument that once a defendant unlawfully records one victim, all future recordings of different victims with different recording devices in different locations would not be separately punishable so long as the defendant had a “single voyeuristic purpose.” In an opinion by Associate Judge Roy McLeese, the Court found Freundel’s argument contrary to reason and public policy, noting that if Freundel’s viewpoint on the law were accepted, voyeurs would not be incentivized to cease recording future victims after they recorded the first victim.

    Freundel also unsuccessfully argued that D.C.’s voyeurism statute criminalized a “course of conduct” rather than separate offenses against individual victims. He made other arguments based on statutory history, statutory construction, and case law that were similarly dismissed by the court.

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. is currently pursuing a class action on behalf of women who were victimized by Freundel’s actions. Our team of seasoned litigators pursue aggressive, creative case strategies to hold wrongdoers accountable and achieve justice for our clients.

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