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Police from the District and Towson University searched the office of Rabbi Barry Freundel, who has been charged in D.C. with six counts of voyeurism. He is charged with using a camera hidden in a clock radio to secretly record women in a ritual bath in Georgetown. Police found other cameras hidden in household items and storage devices in his university office.
Bernard “Barry” Freundel (born December 16, 1951) is the former rabbi of Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. from 1989 until 2014. Freundel was regarded as “a brilliant scholar,” a “profound” orator and an authority in several areas of halakha (Jewish law), including eruvim, which he assisted in constructing in a number of cities, including Washington.
Freundel’s career came to a sudden end in October 2014 when he was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and charged with committing voyeurism of several women in a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath). Kesher Israel immediately suspended him without pay and later notified the congregants that he had been fired. Similarly, he was also suspended from membership in the Vaad and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the main professional association for Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States. He also was suspended from his multiple academic positions. He was assistant professor of rabbinics at Baltimore Hebrew University, where he was the rabbinic studies graduate program adviser, associate professor at Towson University and adjunct lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center. Towson University immediately opened its own administrative review of Freundel’s conduct with students, while Georgetown University began its own investigation as well.
Freundel ultimately pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison and fined $13,000. On August 28, 2018, the $100 million class action lawsuit which had been brought on behalf of the victims against Freundel and the organizations he was associated with was dropped in lieu of a settlement of $14.25 million, to be paid by the insurance of the parties named in the suit. He was expected to be released on August 21, 2020, but was released early on April 1, 2020 due to COVID-19.