If was nearly four years ago when Washington, D.C. Rabbi Barry Freundel was first accused of spying on women in the mikvah, the ritual bath that Orthodox Jews take to purify themselves. Some of them were his own conversion students. It wasn’t just a few accusations, either. Law enforcement officials later said there were at least 150 women who may have had their privacy violated. And those were just the ones whose identities could be confirmed.
In 2015, Freundel was sentenced to more than six years in prison after pleading guilty to spying on 52 women.
It wasn’t until yesterday, however, that a settlement was finally reached with the victims. Four separate Jewish organizations accused of not doing enough to prevent the crime agreed to pay the victims $14.25 million through their insurance provider.
Alexandra Harwin, a partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp, which represents the class action, said the victims were “very happy” with the settlement. “One of the things that is very appealing to the class members is that payments are easy to access and don’t require an intrusive inquiry,” she said. “What this settlement does is provide substantial and prompt recovery for class members instead of the delays and risks of protracted litigation.”
In addition, Harwin said, the defendants’ insurance policy would not have covered the $100 million they had sought.
Freundel remains in jail. He won’t be eligible for release until 2020.
He’s only the latest in what seems like an endless parade of religious leaders who commit sexual crimes. At least this guy and the people who didn’t stop him are being punished.