TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Possible victims of a respected rabbi charged with secretly recording women are fuming that prosecutors may cut a deal with him. The rabbi is a nationwide leader in the Modern Orthodox movement and an associate professor at Towson University.
Investigator Mike Hellgren was the only TV reporter in court as the rabbi faced a judge over voyeurism charges.
Rabbi Barry Freundel refused to speak to WJZ as he left court, facing charges that he secretly recorded videos of women as they used a sacred bath at his D.C. synagogue.
One of America's most prominent rabbis, Freundel also taught at Towson University, where after searching his office, police found cameras that could be disguised as every day objects.
"Thinking about the invasion of her privacy, the breach of her trust, that evil lurked in the place you least expect it just makes her whole face quiver," said Ira Sherman, lawyer for one of the victims.
Lisette Garcia, who worked closely with Freundel at his synagogue, tells WJZ he encouraged students to use the bath--called a mikvah--where they would be nude.
"He treated that mikvah like a car wash. Every Sunday, six students at a time," said Lisette Garcia, synagogue volunteer. "He said, 'Some are so holy, they can never be defiled.' And then he laughed some more and he said, 'Trust me. It would take a lot to make this mikvah not kosher.'"
Garcia believes 1,000 women entered the mikvah in the last year, including some who were especially vulnerable.
"People who had maybe had abortions or for sexual trauma. It was very good for those women to go in," said Garcia.
Rabbi Freundel has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are now working on a plea deal, which has angered some victims who fear the Towson associate professor will get a lenient punishment.
"It's not going to be just swept under the rug. We're not just going to negotiate it out and hopefully give him a slap on the wrist," said Joseph Cammarata, lawyer for one of the victims. "Supposedly a holy man who turned something that was pure into something that was pornographic."
Prosecutors were concerned the rabbi had dual Israeli citizenship. WJZ has learned he does not. He is now banned from leaving the United States.
Prosecutors are setting up a website for victims to give them information about the next court hearing in the case and where they can receive counseling.
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