Prominent Washington rabbi pleads not guilty to voyeurism charge

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 8:17 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A prominent Washington rabbi who police allege installed a video camera in a ritual bathing area pleaded not guilty to a voyeurism charge on Wednesday, according to court documents.

Rabbi Barry Freundel, 62, was arrested by police on Tuesday at his home in the U.S. capital's upscale Georgetown neighborhood, a few blocks from his modern Orthodox synagogue, Kesher Israel Congregation.

Freundel pleaded not guilty in District of Columbia Superior Court to voyeurism, a misdemeanor.

Judge William Nooter ordered Freundel to stay away from all individuals he had helped convert to Judaism and participated with in the Jewish ritual bathing process known as mikvah, according to court documents online.

He was also ordered to stay away from the Kesher Israel synagogue and the National Capital Mikvah.

According to a police report, the alleged victim, a 35-year-old woman, told police she saw Freundel plugging in a black alarm clock that contained a video recording device while she was preparing to take a mikvah at the synagogue.

Freundel explained to her the device was for ventilation purposes, according to the report. Kesher Israel has suspended Freundel without pay.

Kesher Israel's congregation included Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, according to Washingtonian magazine.

Calls seeking comment from Freundel's attorney Jeffrey Harris were not immediately returned.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Eric Beech)