Monday, May 18, 2015

Because my life now isn't a sitcom but a soap opera

I wasn't sure what to say about this given the likelihood of a sentencing appeal, but I think what I've chosen will be in the clear.

Many friends have asked or wondered why suddenly last week I was posting about the trial and sentencing of Barry Freundel.

What had happened was that on Monday, a week ago today, I was notified that I had been named in the court record in a defense memo requesting clemency. I was identified as one of Freundel's victims who was on the record supporting him. Fortunately for me, at least temporarily, the Washington Post has a policy of not publishing the names of victims of any level of sexual assault, and since I was identified by the defense as a victim, my name while fully entered in the court records was blacked out when the WaPost published the memo itself.

I was never one of Freundel's original victims. I have never physically visited Kesher Israel synagogue, nor the mikvah there. I have never been one of his students. I am not a convert to Judaism. My words which were quoted entirely out of context in the memo were written to someone who WAS a victim, reassuring that individual that the reason they had not been able to see and report the evil in the man was because an emotionally and psychologically healthy person doesn't think in the same way an evil or sociopathic person does; no one normally expects someone else to be looking for opportunities to harm others. How this statement could have been construed as support I still don't understand even after reading the memo.

Bethany Mandel, writing in the Forward, documented the situation last week. I am, as you can now infer, the woman quoted in her article. She agreed to avoid using my name for that article as we didn't know if I would be further named and didn't want me to be unnecessarily involved more in the case.

I sent the following statement to the prosecution and judge (copying the defense):

It has been brought to my attention that statements I made on Facebook to one of the victims of Barry Freundel's actions have been entered in the legal record as supporting him, in a memo related to his sentencing.

Please know I have no relationship at all with Mr. Freundel. I have never met him as far as I know; I would not recognize him in a photograph; I was not one of his victims; I have never seen his synagogue nor the mikvah involved. I do live in the Washington, D.C. area, and that is why I do know some of the direct victims. I myself in no way have been directly affected by his crimes.

My words were written to another individual who was directly affected and who did have a religious relationship with Mr. Freundel. What I wrote was meant to condemn Mr. Freundel and his actions, and to reassure my friend that the friend bore no responsibility for Mr. Freundel's depravity and evil or for her own victimization. In no way at all were my words meant to be exculpatory, and if they are being used so they are taken entirely out of context.

In addition, while my words were on public social media (Facebook, specifically), they were never meant to be part of any court record. I was never asked by anyone whether my words could be used in Mr. Freundel's defense, and had I been asked I would have refused as I do not support any leniency towards him.

On Friday at the sentencing hearing, this statement was read in court and entered into the record under my name, openly.

So there you have it. Just when you thought my life couldn't get any more complicated, I get victimized by a man who even in court doesn't respect women's boundaries and privacy. I am not upset really because it was so removed, I'm almost bemused at my own little brush with horror. But I do feel deep sympathy and sadness for those who were directly victimized by this sociopath who called himself a community leader for so long.

No comments: