TOWSON. Md. (WJZ) — One of the nation’s most respected rabbis appears in court, accused of placing a camera in the women’s shower area of a sacred bath. One of his alleged victims is speaking out.
Investigator Mike Hellgren has more on the rabbi’s teaching position at Towson University.
Towson has suspended the rabbi. WJZ also obtained the charging documents, which lay out the disturbing allegations. A woman who says she was secretly recorded is breaking her silence.
Respected Rabbi Barry Freundel is a nationwide leader in the Modern Orthodox movement. For 25 years, he has headed the Keshner Israel Congregation in the nation’s capitol, whose prominent members include former Senator Joe Lieberman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Police allege he secretly recorded videos of six women and stored the images. He pleaded not guilty. One woman who says she’s a victim says she is disgusted.
“I feel violated. This is supposed to be between women and god,” said Emma Schulevitz, alleged victim. “I knew something was sketchy because why not let someone put their belongings on the sink?”
Police say he placed the clock-radio camera near a ritual bathing area, known as a mikvah, where women immerse themselves during sacred life events.
Rabbi Freundel was a scholar with controversial opinions on everything from abortion to homosexuality. He was part of Towson University’s Baltimore Hebrew Institute and taught classes in the religion department.
Police reportedly removed computer equipment from Freundel’s home in Georgetown. Kesher Israel suspended the rabbi without pay.
“I am glad the synagogue chose to engage law enforcement. I think that’s an important first step,” said Aaron Tessler, member of Kesher Israel Congregation.
Rabbi Freundel was known to take a strict position on morality, telling the Washington Jewish Times just weeks ago: “The lack of sexual morality that pervades this society is all over the place… Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages.”
Now he finds himself at the center of a moral controversy and a voyeurism charge that could send him to jail.
According to police, they could see and hear the rabbi on the recordings as he set up the camera inside the clock-radio. He is scheduled to appear in court again next month.
The rabbi is also on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. The organization has suspended him.
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