MINEOLA – A New York judge on Thursday ordered the release of 25-year-old documents that a convicted child molester who was featured in a 2003 Oscar-nominated documentary maintains he needs to help prove his innocence.
“Every aspect, every part, every piece of paper generated in the matter of People V. Friedman” will be released to Jesse Friedman’s defense team, State Supreme Court Judge F. Dana Winslow ordered following a brief hearing.
He gave Nassau County prosecutors until Tuesday to provide the defense team with grand jury testimony and transcripts of witness interviews, stemming from the notorious case. The prosecutors said they intend to appeal Winslow’s order.
Friedman, 44, and his father, Arnold, pleaded guilty in 1988 to abusing 13 children who came to their Great Neck, Long Island, home for computer classes. Jesse Friedman’s defense team insists many of the children, who are now adults, have recanted testimony.
The district attorney’s office, which opposed the release of the documents because of privacy issues and other concerns, issued a report in June that concluded police and prosecutors had sufficient evidence to pursue sex-abuse charges.
“After more than two decades, several guilty pleas, a complete appeal process, and a full and independent re-investigation, the victims in this case deserve closure and privacy,” said Shams Tarek, a spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice. “We are disappointed by the decision and will absolutely be appealing.” Arnold Friedman committed suicide in prison in 1995 and Jesse Friedman was released from prison in 2001, but has tried for more than a decade to clear his name. Although he pleaded guilty, Jesse Friedman has maintained that he was coerced into confessing. A federal appeals court in 2010 refused to overturn the conviction but encouraged Rice, who was not the original prosecutor, to review the case.
Winslow on Thursday was particularly critical of a portion of the DA’s report that claimed Jesse Friedman, while in prison in 2000, had written “fictional” stories that described violent and disturbing sexual acts.
Prosecutors also said he had been disciplined for possessing a photograph of two young girls torn from the pages of a magazine in violation of the terms of his sex offender counseling program.
Defense attorney Ronald Kuby said Friedman was acquitted of those prison charges; a claim that an assistant district attorney reluctantly confirmed Thursday.