Jewish women demonstrated Friday outside the D.C. courthouse where an Orthodox rabbi accused of secretly videotaping women taking a ritual bath was appearing, as prosecutors sought to scour his computers for more possible victims.
Barry Freundel, 63, is charged with misdemeanor voyeurism involving six women. Prosecutors say Freundel secretly videotaped women as they undressed to prepare for a ritual bath in the National Capital Mikvah in Georgetown.
A group of demonstrators stood in front of D.C. Superior Court to support women the rabbi is accused of recording. Some carried signs reading "#SAFEMIKVEH" and "#NoPleaDeal."
"It's crucial that everyone, Jewish or not, stand up and say, 'These people need to be treated with respect and with dignity,'" said Carly Pildis, 29, one of the organizers of the demonstration. "I'm Jewish, and if you hurt converts, I'm going to come after you."
"I feel violated," said one unidentified woman who stood in front of the courthouse. She said the rabbi was supervising her conversion to Orthodox Judaism and asked her to take a "practice dunk" in the mikvah.
"I'm concerned I was one of the victims, and I'm no longer in the Orthodox conversion process," she said.
She said the experience drove her away from Orthodox Judaism. "It was so shocking."
At the brief hearing Friday, prosecutors asked for a delay to review all the video evidence obtained from computers that police seized from Freundel's home in October. Prosecutors are seeking to identify more victims.
Additionally, lawyers have filed civil lawsuits in federal and local courts to determine if Freundel recorded additional women in the mikvah. A class action lawsuit alleges at least 100 women may have been secretly recorded.
"I can confirm that the women that we represent have been videotaped. Their space was invaded by the rabbi at a time that was a particularly solemn moment where they were communing with God," said Ira Sherman, one of the lawyers involved in the case.
Freundel was the rabbi at the Kesher Israel Orthodox synagogue in Georgetown for 25 years. The synagogue terminated his contract as of Jan. 1.
A new hearing date is set for Feb. 19.