In the past, Rice had fought Friedman's motions to consider new evidence. Now, she took the unusual step of appointing an advisory committee to oversee the review. Among the committee members was Barry Scheck, whose Innocence Project has successfully freed hundreds of inmates.

Jarecki leapt at the opportunity, flooding the D.A.'s office with the evidence he'd collected, including hours of interviews and 1,700 pages of raw, unedited transcripts. He cut the new evidence reel showed in the Great Neck convention hall last November. The opening lays out the core argument: "Given the absence of any physical or medical evidence, or prior complaints, the case against Jesse Friedman hinged entirely on the statements of: 14 computer students; Ross Goldstein; Jesse Friedman. Our investigation indicates that all three were coerced."

Of the 400-some students who attended the Friedmans' computer class, only 14 ever told the grand jury that they were sexually abused. Jarecki has tracked down 11 of them. Four told him flat out that they were not sexually abused. One had no recollection of abuse. Another said he didn't remember any abuse until he underwent hypnosis, a practice long since discredited as a reliable way to recover memories. The remaining five also refused to substantiate any abuse.

Jesse Friedman with his wife, Elisabeth Walsh, and their dog, Penny, photographed in their Bridgeport home this month
Willie Davis
Jesse Friedman with his wife, Elisabeth Walsh, and their dog, Penny, photographed in their Bridgeport home this month
Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki’s tireless investigation has uncovered reams of evidence 
of Friedman’s innocence.
Willie Davis
Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki’s tireless investigation has uncovered reams of evidence of Friedman’s innocence.

Michael Epstein, now 35, attended classes in which molestation was supposed to have occurred "in plain view of the other students." He now vigorously denies that any such thing happened.

"When I first heard about the accusations, I was dumbfounded," he says. "It didn't happen to me, and I knew there was no way it could have happened to anyone else while I was there."

Put into intensive therapy and pressed to "remember," a nine-year-old Epstein eventually fabricated his own account just to end the constant pressure.

"The tone in Great Neck was like a witch hunt," Epstein recalls. "There was a really pervasive assumption that the abuse had happened. All the conversation among the kids was 'Do you remember? Have you remembered yet?'"

But the child witnesses were only part of prosecutors' case against Jesse in 1988. There was also the testimony of Ross Goldstein, Jesse's high school friend.

"If there's ever another movie," Jarecki told the Great Neck audience, "Ross's story is at least as chilling."

By the summer of 1988, prosecutors had good reason to be nervous about their case against Jesse Friedman. With zero physical or medical evidence, their entire argument rested on the testimony of a handful of elementary-school-age children, and even that was looking shaky.

The grand jury had already thrown out the testimony of one boy because he was too obviously unreliable. For another witness, prosecutors made the unusual request that he be allowed to testify by pre-recorded video, rather than answering live questions. If the D.A.'s office was going to put Jesse away, it needed an older witness. It found one in Ross Goldstein.

At the time, Detective Fran Galasso told the Great Neck Record she would soon be arresting as many as four others in the case, "friends of Jesse who were invited to the Friedman home to participate in these sexual performances."

Police began showing the computer students copies of the Great Neck High School yearbook, asking them if they recognized anybody. This led to three more arrests. Goldstein was among them.

He'd been a friend of Jesse's, albeit not a close one. In the stratified universe of Great Neck adolescence, Ross was a cool kid. His father was Aerosmith's accountant. He dressed well, wearing a mullet and gold chain, and dated the head cheerleader. His social circle didn't overlap much with that of Friedman, who was more of an oddball.

What the two had in common was music. The high school had recently built an 8-track recording studio. Friedman helped put it together and spent long hours behind the engineering board.

"Ross was a magnificent guitar player," Friedman recalls. "We spent a lot of time in the recording studio, and that was basically how we became friendly. We were never best friends."

Even so, it was Goldstein—not Friedman's best friend, Judd Maltin, who had helped with the computer classes—whom police settled on. Friedman's lawyers believe Goldstein was only targeted because one of the students was friends with Goldstein's younger brother, and recognized him that way.

Goldstein was arrested the day of his high school graduation. Word of his arrest spread quickly among his friends. The teens of Great Neck gathered that night at Steppingstone Park on Long Island Sound, sharing their disbelief that in a town where parents always managed to save them from trouble with the law, one of the most popular and privileged members of the senior class had been arrested.

From the moment of his arrest, Goldstein protested his innocence. His parents hired a lawyer. But Goldstein soon found himself charged with 118 separate incidents of abuse, including 79 counts of sodomy.

Prosecutors threatened him with a 50-year prison sentence—but also offered a way out. If he testified against Jesse, he'd only do six months, and his record would be sealed upon release.

On September 8, 1988, Goldstein took the deal. But after he testified before the grand jury, the judge reneged. Instead of six months in county jail, Goldstein was sentenced to two-to-six years in prison.

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24 comments
Ms125
Ms125

A recent three year, 155 page report by an Independent panel, including Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project and one of the country’s leading advocates for overturning wrongful convictions, strongly found that Jesse's conviction should not be overturned. 

“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.... the preponderance of evidence pointed toward upholding the conviction.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/nyregion/friedmans-sexual-abuse-conviction-was-justified-report-says.html

ajweberman
ajweberman

A 2004 letter sent to the Oscars Committee, from two of the accusers, protested the Oscar nomination for “Capturing the Friedmans” and said the Friedmans’ victims had been exploited by the film. “We were abused, tortured, and humiliated by Arnold and Jesse Friedman in computer classes in Arnold’s basement,” it read. “Many of us have physical scars from what was done to us; all of us have psychological scars. Although it has been 16 years, we live with the knowledge of these crimes every day of our lives.” Figures the VV would come to the defense of these Jewish pre-verts as Henry Miller might have said. Look at its demographics.


Ms125
Ms125


On Geraldo, Jesse stated in explicit detail how he and his father had abused the children during their computer classes. Jesse stated that he and his father had threatened the children by telling them that they would hunt down their parents and burn their houses down if the children talked.

In 2004, the victims of the Friedmans spoke out. One victim stated that he still sometimes wakes up at night shaking, especially when he hears about other child abuse cases. He stated he has persistent rectal bleeding from the abuse.

An excellent resource for what really happened in this case is at:
http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/ctf/1.html

Ms125
Ms125


Jesse said in a 1989 interview that Arnold (his father) fondled and then later sodomized him. Jesse started seeing a psychiatrist at the age of 10 and he was diagnosed manic depressive.

From a search warrant in 1987 for the Friedman's home:

Materials from property seized included 5 pornographic movies, assorted order forms for pornography, assorted pornographic magazine cutouts, 2 partially nude photos of children, 3 sheets advertising homosexuality with boys, 6 photos of naked people and 3 battery operated sex aid.

The idea of suggestive therapy practices was contradicted by a statement by the two main clinicians who worked with the victims involved in the Friedman case. They stated that hypnosis was never used in the treatment of these children and that no therapy was offered at all until after all of the forensic evidence was gathered by the police.

Ms125
Ms125

In the original trial Arnold Friedman plead guilty to 8 counts of sodomy, 28 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, and he also admitted to ramming a child‘s head into a wall in front of other children. Jesse plead guilty to 17 counts of sodomy and 4 counts of first degree sexual abuse.

Arnold himself had an established history as a child molester. He had admitted to abusing his own brother when the brother was 8 years old.

The movie "Capturing the Friedmans" fails to mention that parents were not allowed into the classroom or that nine obscene computer games were found in Friedman“s classroom.

The movie left out information about Jesse‘s friend, Ross Goldstein. Ross witnessed and admitted to participating in the crimes. He could identify the victims and he would have testified in court. He pled guilty to 3 counts of first-degree sodomy. Both Ross and Jesse plead to one count of using a child in a sexual performance (pornography).

marble16
marble16

It is time the detectives pay for they committed a crime themselves!!

marble16
marble16

It is time the detectives pay! For they committed a crime themselves!!

karenkatzx13
karenkatzx13

the mcmartin case of mass hysteria ruined several lives and wreaked havoc in general to the town i grew up in.

stagehand
stagehand

In 1984 (appropriate year, Orwell) my then wife's divorce lawyer suggested that the best way to get custody of our three-year-old daughter was to charge me with incest.  My child, abducted by my wife, was subjected to the same techniques described in this article.  After a year and a half of denials, she gave up and started corroborating the lies of her mother. That commenced 7 years of hell for me, after which I was not only exonerated, I was given custody of my then 10-year-old.

I spent the next 15 years paying off my legal debts.  Worse, the whole ordeal left my daughter psychologically broken.  She's married now and estranged from both her parents.

What galls me about such cases is that no false accuser or complicit psychologist or prosecutor is EVER held legally accountable for the catastrophe they've created.  They are never even compelled to come up with a document saying, in effect, "Whoops!  My bad."  The damage persists for a lifetime.


ajweberman
ajweberman

The guy had child porn so even if he was innocent he still should have done the bid. 

hakon39
hakon39

No surprise.  The "justice" system in the United States isn't flawed, it's hopelessly broken. 

Time to start over.

TOSIAR

reptilegrrl
reptilegrrl

@Ms125 The claim from this "victim" alone should tell you it isn't true. 20 years later, he has persistent rectal bleeding? Really?

reptilegrrl
reptilegrrl

@Ms125 And recordings of the police interviews reveal that they threatened and coerced the children into saying what the cops wanted to hear.

reptilegrrl
reptilegrrl

@Ms125 You obviously haven't seen the film. It does specifically address the issue of the pornographic video games.

portiab
portiab

@hakon39 Amazing that false accusers like Crystal Magnum and Tig Notaro, and the bad cops, prosecutors, and judges face no real accountability for knowingly participating in such travesties. Charge the guy with possessing child porn and be done with it. Why is destroying lives by misuse of the law so tolerated? Why does the Village Voice promote the career of vicious false accusers like Tig Notaro?

Deni
Deni

@John R Penley Unless I missed it this report left out the fact that the father admitted to molesting two kids of family friends. That is in the film. And apparently the porn mags were hidden in plain sight so a lot of denial going on in the family. The father violated porn trafficking laws and that's what got the investigation started.

reptilegrrl
reptilegrrl

@Deni The porn was NOT in plain sight. The police claimed that it was, but the photos that the police took on the scene show no porn whatsoever in plain sight. It was all hidden. 


And what Jessie's father did is not relevant, because this is about Jessie's case.

marcelinosanchez148
marcelinosanchez148

@ajweberman @reptilegrrl  The father (Arnold Friedman) ordered the child pornography, not his son (Jesse Friedman). The father had ordered child pornography and the authorities from Switzerland, contacted the authorities in Long Island. Long Island police went in disguised to the father's house and delivered the magazine. The father signed for the magazine and when the police went in the house, the father was viewing the magazine and denied having the magazine. The son, had absolutely nothing to do with the child porn. So, I definitely agree with reptilegrrl. You need to work on your reading/comprehension skills. 

 

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