A District of Columbia Superior Court judge has appointed a law firm to oversee a merger of three civil cases into a single class-action lawsuit against the synagogue formerly led by Rabbi Barry Freundel who was convicted in 2015 of voyeurism.
Judge Brian F. Holeman of the D.C. Superior Court on June 13 appointed the Washington firm Sanford Heisler as interim class counsel in Jane Doe et al. v. The Georgetown Synagogue — Kesher Israel Congregation et al.
“The class counsel will harness the claims of everyone affected and define the scope of the case,” said Joseph Cammerata, whose firm, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, is named as co-counsel for the plaintiffs, called Jane Doe to protect their anonymity.
Holeman also set a yearlong schedule for discovery in the case and ordered the parties return to court on June 13, 2017, for a hearing to certify the creation of a single class of plaintiffs.
Kesher Israel fired Freundel, a prominent rabbi, after his arrest in 2014, when he was accused of making video recordings of women nude or partly nude in the National Capital Mikvah, a ritual bath next to the synagogue. He subsequently pleaded guilty to 52 counts of voyeurism, was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison and fined $13,000. He is serving his sentence in the D.C. jail.
In addition to leading Kesher Israel, an Orthodox congregation, Freundel taught at Baltimore Hebrew University, Towson University and Georgetown University.
Freundel’s connection to Georgetown is reflected in another civil suit presided over by Holeman, Jane Doe v. The Georgetown University. The judge has scheduled alternate dispute resolution for January 2017 in an effort to have the parties settle the case without going to trial.
Attorneys for Georgetown University and Kesher Israel declined to be interviewed.