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Amended Complaint Filed in Class Action Against DC Rabbi Voyeur, Religious Institutions

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. and interim class counsel Sanford Heisler, LLP have filed an amended complaint in the pending class action lawsuit involving DC Rabbi Bernard “Barry” Freundel. Freundel is currently serving a 6 ½ year prison sentence for secretly video recording women as they used a ritual Jewish bath, or mikvah, in his Georgetown synagogue, Kesher Israel.

The amended complaint was filed on August 16th in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by the team of CSCS and Sanford Heisler, LLP, the law firm named interim class counsel of the class action litigation. This case is the only pending class action lawsuit in the nation involving Rabbi Freundel’s misconduct and voyeurism.

Freundel Class Action Lawsuit

In addition to naming Rabbi Freundel as a defendant, the lawsuit also names several religious institutions that failed to prevent the victimization of women who trusted Freundel during their most personal religious moments: Kesher Israel, the National Capital Mikvah, the Rabbinical Council of America, and a newly added defendant, the Beth Din of America.

Key points about the case include:

  • The amended complaint adds the Beth Din of America as a defendant in the lawsuit. The Beth Din of America is the rabbinical court which authorized Rabbi Freundel to conduct the Orthodox conversions during which he would secretly record victims as they were partially or completely naked.
  • The lawsuit brings claims on behalf of two classes of victims: (1) all women who used the National Capital Mikvah before Rabbi Freundel’s arrest, and (2) women who used the National Capital Mikvah as part of their conversion to Orthodox Judaism before Rabbi Freundel’s arrest.
  • The lawsuit details defendants’ alleged failures to prevent Freundel’s victimization of women. For example, the complaint alleges Kesher Israel overlooked complaints made by female congregants regarding Freundel’s inappropriate behavior and that the National Capital Mikvah endorsed the use of “practice dunks” and “re-dunks,” which were conducted by Rabbi Freundel as a means to secretly film woman while they bathed in the mikvah, despite having no connection to Orthodox tradition. Additionally, the complaint alleges the Rabbinical Council of America and the Beth Din of America broke their promises to ensure the “modesty” of women converting to Orthodox Judaism.

CSCS will continue to pursue justice and just compensation on behalf of the women and families affected by Rabbi Freundel’s crimes and the failures of the religious institutions who should have taken steps to prevent them. As Partner Ira Sherman stated during a recent Press Release, "the complaint accuses Orthodox religious institutions of sitting idly by as Rabbi Freundel committed his crimes," and it becomes our role to work toward holding them accountable.

You can learn more about the Freundel class action by contacting our team.