Barry Freundel, the once-influential Orthodox rabbi who was sentenced in May to 6 1/2 years in prison for videotaping dozens of women as they prepared for a ritual bath, will return to D.C. Superior Court on July 31 for a hearing after his attorney filed court documents arguing that his client was wrongly sentenced, which led to extra prison time.
Prosecutors have begun notifying the women about the hearing in front of Senior Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin, the same judge who oversaw the case.
Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, argued in his motions with the court that Freundel should not have been sentenced 45 days for each of the 52 victims that he pleaded guilty to videotaping. Instead, Harris argued that Freundel should have been sentenced only for the single act of videotaping. Harris made the same argument at Freundel’s May 15 sentencing, though prosecutors and Alprin disagreed.
Harris’s argument is unusual. In several filings with the court, Harris and prosecutors have sparred over the legality of the sentence.
Harris said Freundel, 63, is in D.C. Jail and is under isolation for 23 hours a day, after jail officials said they had received threats against him.
Freundel was arrested in October on charges that he videotaped six nude women at Kesher Israel synagogue in Georgetown. Prosecutors said a review of his computer equipment revealed that many more women had been recorded by Freundel as they prepared for the bath known as a mikvah, used as part of a purification ritual.
Freundel ultimately pleaded guilty to videotaping 52 women, and the punishment translates to about six weeks per victim. Sentencing guidelines require that he serve 85 percent of his term.
The longtime rabbi had recorded about 100 additional women, prosecutors have said, but those alleged crimes occurred outside the three-year statute of limitations. The videotaping occurred between 2009 and 2014.