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Sentence upheld for rabbi convicted of voyeurism

Sentence upheld for rabbi convicted of voyeurism

A D.C. Superior Court judge upheld Friday the 61/2-year jail sentence of an Orthodox rabbi and former Towson University professor who pleaded guilty to 52 misdemeanor counts of voyeurism.

In February, Bernard "Barry" Freundel admitted in court that he secretly videotaped dozens of women as they prepared for a Jewish ritual bath at the National Capital Mikvah in Washington. Each of the 52 counts carried a penalty of up to one year in jail.

Judge Geoffrey Alprin sentenced Freundel in May to 45 days for each count, totaling 78 months.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Harris argued that the law was unclear on whether the 63-year-old rabbi should have been sentenced for each individual victim. Alprin disagreed Friday.

Harris said in a phone interview that he plans to appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Harris also said Freundel wants to be transferred to a federal prison facility, where he can participate in religious and rehabilitative programs. Freundel is being held at the D.C. Jail, where he is on "lockdown 23 hours a day" and can't fully observe his religion, Harris said.

Sylvia Lane, a spokeswoman for the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, said Freundel is being held "in special housing for safety and security reasons."

"He has access to legal and social visits, mail, telephone, recreation and medical services," she said in an email.

Harris contends that the D.C. Jail isn't geared toward long-term incarceration, as inmates are typically there for shorter sentences.

But it's unclear if Freundel can be transferred. In June, the court recommended that Freundel be sent to a federal facility. He has requested a correctional facility in either Otisville, N.Y. or Miami, according to court filings.

"That's where the feds send observant Jews," Harris said. "They have a rabbi and services."

While Harris said federal prison facilities typically accept inmates from Washington who have been convicted of felonies, not misdemeanors, he intends to press for the transfer.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons could not be reached for comment Friday.

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