An Orthodox rabbi and former Towson University professor who secretly videotaped women as they prepared for a Jewish ritual bath issued an apology this week.
Bernard "Barry" Freundel, who pleaded guilty in February to 52 misdemeanor counts of voyeurism in the D.C. Superior Court, wrote, "I am sorry, beyond measure, for my heinous behavior and the perverse mindset that provoked my actions."
Freundel said that through therapy, he has begun to understand his actions. He also described how he became a rabbi to help others but that his actions have instead brought pain to his victims, and negatively impacted others in the D.C. and Jewish community.
In court, Freundel acknowledged that he used cameras hidden in a clock radio, a tissue box and a tabletop fan to record women at the National Capital Mikvah between 2012 and 2014. Prosecutors said in court documents that he abused his power as a prominent Orthodox rabbi and exploited women's trust in him.
More than a dozen victims spoke at the sentencing in May, and many described him as a danger to the community, describing how he encouraged them to use the mikvah ritual, which is supposed to be a cleansing experience that brings a woman closer to God.
"He violated a sacred and holy ritual and made it into something wrong and disgusting," one woman said at the hearing.
He was later sentenced to 61/2-year jail.
In his apology, Freundel described the pain of listening to the victims in court, saying "How could I have been so incredibly blind, so unaware of my own impact on others?"
He concludes, "There is no excuse for what I've done. Again, I am truly sorry."