Sign up for our free newsletter
The rabbi at modern Orthodox Kesher Israel synagogue in Georgetown set up a hidden camera that captured at least six women totally or partially undressed on the congregation’s property, according to a complaint filed in D.C. Superior Court.
The women, the complaint alleges, were in the changing and preparation area of the mikveh, a ritual Jewish cleansing bath. They did not know they were being filmed.
Rabbi Barry Freundel, 62, was arrested Tuesday and charged with voyeurism.
Freundel was allegedly filming these women on what appeared to just be a clock radio. But what the alleged victims didn’t know is that there was also a camera attached to the Sony device. Someone associated with the mikveh told police that he or she had witnessed Freundel plugging in and setting up the recording device, the complaint says.
Police successfully applied for an emergency warrant on Monday night to search the contents of the device. Upon searching it, authorities say they saw and heard the rabbi on the camera adjusting and manipulating it so it faced the shower. (The ritual calls for people to take a shower before they enter the actual mikveh bath so no clothes, dirt, or anything else stands between them and the ceremonial water.) The first video is dated June 2, 2014, and the last on Oct. 6, though officials warn that the time stamp could be off.
Police searched Freundel’s Georgetown home Tuesday and allegedly found an instruction manual for the recording device and evidence that he backed up the recordings on the camera to other devices.
Freundel has worked at the prominent synagogue since 1989 and is a highly regarded rabbi in the region. Kesher Israel announced last night that it has suspended Freundel without pay and is cooperating with law enforcement officials.
Read the complaint below:
Screenshot via Google Maps