New York-area D.A. stands behind ’89 conviction of sexual molester

NEW YORK (JTA) — The 1989 sexual molestation conviction of Jesse Friedman, then 19, was justified, according to the suburban New York district attorney’s office that was accused of bungling the case.

“By any impartial analysis, the reinvestigation process prompted by Jesse Friedman, his advocates and the Second Circuit has only increased confidence in the integrity of Jesse Friedman’s guilty plea and adjudication as a sex offender,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice wrote in a 172-page report that was made public on Monday.

The Long Islander’s case had stirred national controversy about wrongful accusations and shoddy detective work, culminating in the 2003 documentary “Capturing the Friedmans,” which showed alleged mistakes in the probe. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

Friedman, who is Jewish, had pleaded guilty to molesting 13 children in his Great Neck home in the late 1980s. The new investigation, which took three years to complete, interviewed three of Friedman’s now-adult victims.

“Each confirmed that he was sexually abused by Jesse Friedman,” said the report, adding that Friedman actually molested 17 children.

Friedman, who said he was railroaded into pleading guilty, was released from prison in 2001 after serving 13 years of a six- to 18-year sentence. He had to register as a sex offender. His father, who also was convicted, died in prison in 1995.

At a news conference Monday, the New York Daily News quoted Friedman, now 44, as saying, “It’s painful when people lie about you, and it’s really painful when the district attorney lies about you.” He added that “there were nothing but lies in the report.”

The report accused the makers of “Capturing the Friedmans” of using misleading, out-of-context snippets of interviews in their bid to exonerate Friedman, the Daily News reported.

 

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