JESSE FRIEDMAN ASKS COURT TO SET ASIDE HIS 1988 CHILD MOLESTATION CONVICTION
Jesse Friedman, of Harlem, is seeking to clear his name. The former Great Neck manfiled court papers on January 8, 2004, to vacate his 1988 sex abuse convictions because he claimssome of the boys who said they were molested did so after they were hypnotized and others did soafter they were repeatedly questioned by police. Friedman cited evidence unearthed by themaker of the award winning documentary film Capturing the Friedmans, which raised questions aboutthe quality of evidence against him and his father, Arnold.
The two men pleaded guilty in 1988 to scores of sexual abuse charges, admitting that theymolested 13 boys who were students in a computer class that Arnold ran from his home on PiccadillyRoad in Great Neck. Arnold died in prison, apparently a suicide. Jesse served 13 yearsbefore he was released on parole in 2001. In a previous interview, Jesse said he lied in 1988when he confessed to molesting the boys and pleaded guilty because he feared that if he wasconvicted at trial, he would have spent life in prison.
In October 2007, Friedman said a court hearing left him hopeful about his chances forexoneration. He said he was very optimistic after a federal magistrate judge heard evidenceon whether he waited too long to appeal. There was no indication when the judge would rule onhis request for his conviction to be overturned.
A federal judge has shut down one of Friedman's last remaining hopes of clearing hisname. In a ruling January 4, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert rejectedFriedman's argument as untimely. Federal law required Friedman to file his appeal on theissue within a year of when the factual grounds of the appeal could have been discovered throughthe exercise of due diligence.
Friedman, now 42, is seeking new information that will help to exonerate him asthe Nassau district attorney's office reinvestigates his 25-year-old case. Nassau DA KathleenRice agreed to take a second look at the case in august 2010. She appointed an independentpanel to oversee her office's work on Friedman's case. The panel includes Barry Scheck,founder of the Manhattan-based innocence Project, and three other legal and social science experts.
UPDATE: Friedman, now 45, is asking a court to overturn his 1988 plea and setaside his conviction. I never committed a crime against any child, ever, he said. Thecourt filing seeks an evidentiary hearing on his conviction based on actual innocence andincludes an affidavit from attorney Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project. Scheck was on anadvisory panel to Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's conviction review team, which found in2013 that Friedman's conviction was justified.