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May 15, 2015 / bethanyshondark

My Statement at the Freundel Sentencing Hearing

I remember when I was converting you would obsessively talk about another rabbi, Tropper, who made his converts exchange their bodies for their conversion papers. No matter how you manipulated us, you would use Tropper to illustrate how lucky we were to be with you instead. At least we didn’t have to have sex with a creepy old white guy to become Jewish. Now we know you aren’t any better. You made us exchange our bodies, our dignity, and for many, our love and trust in Judaism and its religious leaders in exchange for our conversions.

When you would tell us about Tropper and many other sexual deviants you were preparing us for life in an imperfect Jewish community. We now know that there are many other sick, perverted supposed Torah scholars walking the streets. Often Jewish authorities brush these stories under the rug, like Catholics did before they couldn’t deny priestly sex abuse stories any longer.

This case doesn’t just affect 152 victims. It affects the entire Jewish community and future victims of sex crimes at the hands of rabbis. Will they think it’s worth it to come forward? Will they feel safe? If you get off lightly today, I fear what will happen the next time a rabbi is exposed as a deviant.

By exposing you the synagogue, the mikvah and innocent people who volunteer at both in turn exposed themselves to lawsuits. If another crime takes place in another synagogue or mikvah, will those authorities choose to come forward and risk litigation? That depends on how seriously the court takes your actions.

Knowing you, you probably think you’re entitled to get off today lightly. That it wasn’t that bad, what you did to us. That’s the impression I get, anyway, considering the fact that you didn’t even do any of us the courtesy of an apology in your statement to the court asking for leniency.

In that statement you also quoted five women expressing their confusion and hurt over your arrest in a section of your defence memo entitled “Internet Posting of Women Congregants of Rabbi Freundel.” I’m not sure why you thought you’d get away with that (or why you’d get away with any of this, for that matter).     (Note: I wrote more on this for the Forward)

I spoke to four of those five women, one of whom had never even met you or been to Washington. You took their words, written on random Facebook walls immediately following your arrest completely out of context. I spoke to four of them and each said that had you bothered asking if you could put their names and statements in the public record in your defence, even anonymously, they wouldn’t have let you. They are livid that you involved them in this matter at all. With your defence memo all you accomplished was expanding the web you’ve created of people you have victimized.

Even in your request for leniency from the court, you violated more women. You won’t stop. You’re a sociopath. Despite the utter humiliation you’ve faced, you appear to feel no shame. You brought more on yourself when you refused to vacate the residence the shul provided for you for thirty years. It was another slap in the face to a community that enabled you to build your career from nothing. Another slap in the face to everyone you hurt. You won’t stop until you are forced to.

That is why I ask the court to heed the sentencing recommendation of the prosecution. This man is a danger to women in the Jewish community. He has the opportunity to offend again. If he is trusted to teach Torah, as his defense memo says he is, he has the means to reoffend. Please protect us from this man, who cares for nothing and nobody except his own perverted pleasure.

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