Freundel sentence upheld; ‘not illegal,’ court rules

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Following brief oral arguments Friday in D.C. Superior Court, Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin denied Rabbi Barry Freundel’s request to have his 6 ½ year sentence reduced.

Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, had asked Alprin to reconsider what Harris had called an illegal sentence. Harris argued that Freundel’s sentence of 45 days for each of the 52 counts of misdemeanor voyeurism should have been considered as one count when it came to sentencing because Freundel formed only one unbroken “impulse” to commit voyeurism.

Freundel was sentenced May 15 for surreptitiously videotaping women as they prepared to use the spiritual bath at the National Capital Mikvah.

Freundel entered the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and black kippah, closely shaven and appearing noticeably slimmer.

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He did not speak, but briefly surveyed the gallery, where the audience consisted mostly of lawyers and journalists.

“This motion is almost a bait and switch. That’s how I feel,” the judge said, noting that Freundel had “acknowledged he could have been sentenced to 52 years at his guilty plea.”

The judge sided with the government, which had argued that Freundel’s meticulous labeling of his mikvah videos of naked congregants made it clear that he had formed criminal intent with regard to 52 individual women.

“Each one of these women suffered a gross violation of their privacy,” said Alprin. “In my sentence I took into account that each individual was an individual and deserved to be recognized as such.”

Alprin added that Freundel didn’t receive “anything close to the maximum sentence of 52 years,” and said that “the facts of this case do not engender in me a desire to be overly lenient.”

Neither side spoke to the media as Freundel was led back to D.C. Jail.

The court made the right call in denying Freundel’s motion to reconsider, said Justin Dillon, a former D.C. federal prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney.

There was “no question it [would] fail,” said Dillon. “There are no economies of scale in criminal law. Rabbi Freundel’s argument would place a repeated voyeur like himself on the same footing with someone who did it once in a moment of weakness. That argument not only has no foundation in criminal law, but it also violates principles of basic of common sense.”

 

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