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Jewish Rabbi Barry Freundel Pleads Guilty To Secretly Recording Nude Women In Ritual Bath

First Posted: Feb 20, 2015 02:44 PM EST
Kesher Israel Congregation

Photo : Wikimedia Commons

A prominent Orthodox rabbi pleaded guilty on Thursday to secretly recording about 150 nude women as they prepared for a Jewish ritual bath.

Barry Freundel of Washington, D.C., entered a guilty plea to 52 counts of voyeurism during his appearance at the D.C. Superior Court for a hearing Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

According to prosecutors, the 63-year-old rabbi set up several hidden cameras to videotape women while they were in a changing room preparing for ritual bath at Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown.

Freundel, who is facing up to 52 years in jail, is set for a sentencing hearing on May 15.

Before his arrest on Oct. 14, 2014, Freundel was a rabbi at the renowned Kesher Israel synagogue in Washington for more than 25 years.

As part of his plea deal, he admitted that be began filming the women in 2009 by setting up hidden recording devices in a changing and showering area of The National Capital Mikvah, a ritual cleansing bath. He acknowledged that he "utilized up to three recording devices at the same time to obtain different angles of each woman being recorded," while they were either partially or totally undressed before or after they showered, states court documents.

The high profile Jewish leader was then fired from the synagogue about a month and a half following his arrest.

The Kesher Israel board of directors released a statement Thursday calling Freundel's actions a "great betrayal" and said the synagogue hoped that the "resolution of the criminal proceedings will help our collective and individual healing continue."

"Despite this great betrayal by Rabbi Freundel and our communal pain, we have seen a community that has come together and whose members have leaned on one another for support. As we move forward, we will continue to grow stronger and are committed to ensuring that our community remains a warm, welcoming, and safe place to gather, worship, and learn," the board wrote, according to the Washington Post.

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