Rabbi Barry Freundel, the former spiritual leader at a prominent Washington synagogue, has pleaded guilty to 52 counts of peeping on naked women in the mikveh, several news outlets reported.
Freundel admitted using three different hidden cameras to capture different naked women in the ritual bath from different angles.
According to a statement released by the Kesher Israel Board of Directors today, the sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm. The maximum sentence is 52 years in prison, according to the statement.
"The scope and duration of these horrible crimes are still hard to completely comprehend," the statement read, adding that licensed trauma and general therapists are available through JCADA and JSSA to those seeking professional support.
The plea deal was announced in a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia to Freundel’s victims that was obtained by the Washington Jewish Week. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon; it was delayed from the morning to allow for a larger courtroom that could handle the number of victims.
Freundel’s sentencing hearing is expected to be held two months after the plea agreement is accepted.
The Washington Post reported that D.C. prosecutors sent a note to victims saying that “as victims of crime, you will have the right to submit a written as well as an oral victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing, expressing how this crime has impacted you.”
Freundel, 63, was arrested last October on six charges of voyeurism after investigators discovered secret cameras installed in the mikvah shower room and additional recording devices in his home. His Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel, immediately suspended him and later fired him, ordering him to vacate the shul’s rabbinic residence.
An oral agreement was reached on a plea offer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The plea offer included one count for every victim recorded during the statute of limitations and identified by a photograph submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“We also did not restrict our ability to seek incarceration or restitution for those victims identified during the statute of limitations in any way,” the letter said.
Prosecutors have told alleged victims that Freundel secretly recorded more than 150 women undressing at the mikvah.
Women who were videotaped as they used The National Capital Mikvah in the Georgetown section may submit a victim impact statement “expressing how this crime has impacted you,” the letter said. They also can give an oral impact hearing during sentencing.
Freundel, who reportedly separated from his wife after his arrest, had refused to leave his synagogue-owned residence, and the congregation has taken the case to the Beth Din of America. WTOP, a local news radio station, reported that he is now planning to vacate the house within two weeks.
Hannah Dreyfus contributed to this report.