Voyeur Rabbi’s Victims to Get $25,000 Each

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Fifty-two women secretly videotaped by an Orthodox rabbi in Georgetown between 2004 and 2014 as they undressed to immerse in a mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath, will get $25,000 each if a settlement reached between them and four Jewish organizations is approved by a D.C. judge. A number of others who had disrobed but were not confirmed to have been videotaped may get $2,500 each.

The total amount of the settlement is $14.25 million, according to Kesher Israel, the modern Orthodox synagogue at 2801 N St. NW where Barry Fruendel, who was convicted of voyeurism in 2015, served as rabbi. Freundel, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to and is currently serving six and a half years in prison.

Besides Freundel and Kesher Israel, the National Capital Mikvah, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Beth Din of America, a court of Jewish law, were named in the
settlement. A class-action lawsuit, including more than 150 women who were confirmed to have been videotaped, had sought $100 million.

According to a press notice released on Sept. 3, Jewish organizations had sought to dismiss the cases, arguing that they were not at fault because they had “no prior knowledge of Freundel’s illegal actions.” After that, the victims entered into settlement discussions.

“Although Kesher is confident that it would have been found without fault if the case were litigated to final judgment, Kesher believes that resolving the case at this time is in its best interests, as well as the best interests of the community and the victims,” Kesher Israel President Andrew Cooper said. “The settlement would enable the parties to avoid the further burdens of litigation, and would allow Kesher to continue its focus on serving the needs of the Jewish community in Washington, D.C., without the distraction of the lawsuits.”

The victims were “very happy” with the settlement, according to Alexandra Harwin, a partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp, which handled the class action. “One of the things that is very appealing to the class members is that payments are easy to access and don’t require an intrusive inquiry,” she said. “What this settlement does is provide substantial andprompt recovery for class members instead of the delays and risks of protracted litigation.”

Approval by the D.C. Superior Court was supposed to have taken place on Sept. 7 but had not been confirmed as of press time.

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