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Georgetown Law Student Accuses Professor of Recording Her Naked
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A rabbi, also a law professor at Georgetown, is accused of secretly recording women change at his synagogue.

Summary: A female student at Georgetown University Law Center is suing after secret recording devices were discovered in a synagogue that was operated by a Georgetown law professor.

A Georgetown University Law Center third-year student has filed a lawsuit against both Georgetown University and a synagogue led by Rabbi Bernard “Barry” Freundel, claiming that the rabbi, also an adjunct law professor, used an assignment involving a Jewish ritual to secretly spy on her—while she was naked. According to National Law Journal, signs were ignored that Freundel was taking advantage of women in both his classes and his congregation.

  
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Here’s an article about a recent lawsuit that was filed against Zillow for sexual harassment.

The complaint was filed in District of Columbia Superior Court. In October, Freundel was arrested and charged with six counts of voyeurism after an employee found a hidden camera in a clock radio. The clock radio was in a room that women used to prepare for the mikvah, which is a Jewish ritual that involves the immersion of oneself in water, unclothed, to cleanse the soul. Freundel, who is a popular figure in the Jewish community in Washington, founded and operated the National Capital Mikvah. The National Capital Mikvah was also named as a defendant in the complaint.

A police search later found video recordings of women undressing and participating in the ritual. Freundel has pleaded not guilty to the charges he is facing. The student claims that both the school and the synagogue were negligent when they gave Freundel a position of authority, and that warning signs about his behavior toward young women were ignored.

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“Defendants were derelict in their duties to the congregants and students, thereby permitting Freundel’s devastating sexual exploitation of plaintiff and other similarly situated women,” the complaint states. A spokesperson for Georgetown said that Freundel is not teaching any courses this semester, and will not teach any courses for the remainder of this school year.



Georgetown, which is cooperating with the police investigation, has also launched its own investigation, stating, “We are horrified by the behavior reported to have taken place at the mikvah.”

The University of Virginia has recently been in an uproar over how the school has allegedly handled rape claims in the past.

The lawsuit alleges that the student enrolled in a Jewish law seminar that was co-taught by Freundel in the spring of 2014. The course required students to write a research paper on a Jewish law topic, and Freundel suggested that the student research the mikvah ritual. The plaintiff participated in the ritual at the mikvah operated by Freundel on two separate occasions, and both times Freundel took her into the changing room, and told her where to remove her clothing and how to shower before participating.

The student earned an “A” on her research paper, and it was posted online by Freundel as a model paper. In addition, the lawsuit states that both the synagogue and Georgetown ignored many concerns about Freundel’s behavior around young women. Some congregants even called him “creepy.”

Should the rabbi receive jail time?

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The plaintiff is seeking class status in her claims against the synagogue so that other women who were secretly recorded by Freundel may join the lawsuit. The suit against Georgetown is on behalf of the student only. Her claims against Georgetown include that the school was negligent in its hiring and supervision of Freundel and that it is vicariously liable for the invasion of her privacy and for wiretapping, in addition to other claims. Damages are requested in the suit.

Elanit Jakabovics is the president of Keshar Israel’s board of directors. Jakabovics issued a statement saying that the suit lacks merit: “Kesher Israel’s leadership is deeply concerned about the harm caused by Rabbi Freundel’s actions—of which we did not and could not have known—and for the personal welfare of all those individuals who may have been violated.” Kesher’s board severed its contract with Freundel earlier this week, and Towson University in Maryland where Freundel also teaches, terminated him. Police also found hidden cameras in his office at Towson University. A hearing on Freundel’s criminal charges will be held January 16.

Photo credit: melery.com



 

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