He would do just a little more than a year, followed by five years of parole. In the quarter-century since, Goldstein has quietly pursued a career as a musician and artist in Troy, New York, recording under the name ROGO.

He never spoke publicly about the Friedman case and refused to cooperate with Jarecki. Over the years, he steadfastly ignored Jesse's attempts to contact him. (He also declined to speak with the Voice for this story.)

Friedman, whose own mother pressed him to take a plea, understands why Goldstein took a deal. "You can't sit trial as a co-defendant with this admitted child molester down the block."

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.

But last year, Friedman finally reached him by phone. Goldstein was initially suspicious. Friedman assured him he held no ulterior motive. "I said, 'We should talk about stuff. We have this shared experience.'" They agreed to meet at a diner in Astoria.

"He brought his girlfriend along, Elisabeth came along, and we talked for hours at the diner," Friedman says. "We didn't talk about everything, but I think I was able to give Ross an opportunity to ask me some things."

Friedman didn't have all the answers, but it felt good just to meet again. "I think it was obvious to him where I was coming from, that I wasn't trying to get rich and famous, I wasn't trying to force him into some position where I needed him to say this, or I needed him to play some role and he was obligated to come forward and exonerate me."

They haven't spoken since. But last month, after decades of silence, Goldstein walked into the same D.A.'s office where he had been pressured to testify against his friend 25 years before. He told the review panel of how he'd been coerced into lying, how prosecutors coached him through details of the Friedmans' computer lab, which he'd never even seen, and how he was imprisoned for something he'd never done.

Sitting with his wife in their sun-dappled Bridgeport living room, Jesse Friedman looks tired. "Yesterday was a really bad day," he says. "I got up and ended up back in bed, then got up and ended up back in bed a second time."

Friedman manages to project a remarkably calm and centered demeanor most of the time. Intensive therapy has helped him manage the post-traumatic stress disorder borne of his time in prison.

But there are still days when it all feels like too much. It has been nearly three years since the Nassau County District Attorney began reviewing his conviction. For months investigators have told him that the report would be out "in two weeks," only to provide the same response two week later.

"He's holding his breath every time they say 'eight more days,'" Walsh says. "It gets to the point where you just say, 'Can I breathe for a minute?'"

The anxiety isn't just about whether the panel will vacate his conviction. "I know how much exonerating evidence has been presented to the D.A.'s office," Friedman says. "For Kathleen Rice to not find in favor of vacating the conviction, I can't even imagine the types of contortion she'd have to do with the truth in order to justify it."

If anything, Walsh says, her husband is afraid of what it will be like to finally be free.

"Jesse doesn't have any sense of what liberty feels like," she says. "He went from being a child in his parents' home to spending his twenties and early thirties in a prison cell where there's no civil liberties of any kind, five years on parole, with an ankle bracelet and no civil liberties and constant fear of a ridiculous situation, and then under oppressive Megan's Law as a Level 3 sex offender. He hasn't a clue what civil liberties feel like, what it feels like to decide what you want to do for a living, where you want to live, whether you want to be a parent, decide whether you can go to a sporting event or not. He has no sense of that. He has never experienced freedom. He and I have talked about this quite a bit: He doesn't know what he's going to feel."

Whatever he feels, Friedman knows he isn't the only one damaged by what happened in Great Neck 25 years ago.

"This isn't at all just about me," he says. "And it's not even just about me and the complainants. But it's about their parents, and all the guilt that they had to deal with, thinking they sent their children off into harm's way and didn't protect them."

For someone who lost 25 years of his life over a crime he likely didn't commit, Friedman maintains a disarming compassion for the people whose hysteria derailed his future.

That compassion doesn't extend to law enforcement, but it does give his quest for justice a broader foundation.

"The police hurt so many people and traumatized the entire community," he says. "A lot of times I sort of feel like I'm the last standing eyewitness to a horrible massacre. I'm the only one left to tell the tale, because I know that nobody was sexually abused in those computer classes. I was there."

npinto@villagevoice.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
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. 

 
Loading...