Kathleen Rice is making good on a promise of her failed campaign for state Attorney General by appointing a panel of outside legal experts to re-investigate the 1988 conviction of Jesse Friedman, who served 13 years in prison in a notorious sex abuse case that was the subject of the Academy-Award nominated documentary, Capturing the Friedmans. One of those legal experts is Barry Scheck, the founder of the Innocence Project, the Manhattan legal clinic that attempts to exonerate people using DNA evidence.
Rice, the Nassau County DA who lost the Democratic Attorney General nomination to Eric Schneiderman in December, had promised to review the controversial case after the state’s highest court ordered her to do so in August.
Though Friedman plead guilty to 243 charges of child abuse, which allegedly occurred during after-school computer classes taught by his father Arnold Friedman, he appealed his conviction after being granted parole in 2001. In his appeal, he alleged that law enforcement officials used illegitimate methods — including hypnosis — to obtain information from child witnesses. He said his was not aware of those methods at the time of his trial, which took place when he was 19-years-old. His father Arnold, a confessed pedophile, committed suicide in prison.
Scheck tells the Voice that he was honored to be chosen by Rice, and that he doesn’t yet know the facts of the case. “I’m keeping an open mind about the whole thing,” he said. Other experts include: NYPD veteran Patrick Harnett, and Susan Herman, the former director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.