“CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS”
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“CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS”
Documentary or Whitewash?
Have you seen Andrew Jarecki‘s award-winning film? Did it leave you with the impression that Jesse Friedman and maybe his father, Arnold, were victims of a witch hunt conducted by an inept and overzealous investigation team? That conclusion is no accident. Jarecki omitted incriminating evidence that might have made you think differently about Jesse and Arnold. Consider this information, and decide for yourself if this well-reviewed “documentary” can be trusted.
1. What Arnold and Jesse admitted under oath: The film shows–but minimizes the fact- – that Arnold and Jesse admitted to molesting 13 boys, ages 7-11. Arnold pled to 8 counts of sodomy, 28 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, and also admitted to ramming a child‘s head into a wall in front of other children. Jesse pled to 17 counts of sodomy, 4 counts of first degree sexual abuse.
2. Arnold had an established history as a child molester: The film acknowledges that Arnold was an admitted pedophile. He admitted to abusing his own brother when the brother was 8. Although initially admitting to abusing only one boy, Arnold admitted in a therapy session with Elaine to abusing (though not sodomizing) two boys, one of whom was the child of his good friend. He went to therapy out of fear that he would molest his own children.
3. Was no evidence found in the house beyond one stack of porn? (1) Although Jarecki shows the house looking porn free and a voice-over says porn was only found in the office, the prosecutor says in the movie that child pornography was found all over the house. (2) In 1986, Arnold Friedman mail-ordered “Boy Love,” a magazine featuring graphic pictures of men having sex with children, which led to a sting operation. Jarecki doesn’t say that other child- porn magazines were found on classroom shelves; the boys said Arnold used them to initiate discussions of sex. (3) Jarecki fails to mention that parents were not allowed into the classroom or that nine obscene computer games were found in Friedman“s classroom such as “Dirty Movie” (“animation of woman who undresses, spreads her legs and then masturbates/ urinates”), and “Seasons Greeting” (“animation of Mickey Mouse, dressed in a Santa suit, appears with erection and ejaculates”). An early newspaper report said “Talking Sam”, in which a male figure exposes his genitals, was used to demonstrate and initiate touching games with the boys. Boys were allowed to take these computer disks to their homes, where a few were found by police. (4) Numerous children, ages 7-12, disclosed similar details about sexual “games” such as leap-frog and Simon says. (5) Jarecki didn‘t mention that child-sized dildos were found in a cabinet just outside the classroom.
4. What about the witness who was left out of the film? Jesse‘s friend, Ross Goldstein, witnessed and admitted to participating in the crimes, could identify the victims, and would have testified in court. He pled guilty to 3 counts of first-degree sodomy. Both he and Jesse pled to one count of using a child in a sexual performance (pornography).
5. Why didn‘t the boys tell anyone? Children “tell” about abuse indirectly. In 1989 some wet their beds, took baseball bats to bed, could not sleep. The children reported Arnold threatened to burn down their houses, kill parents, if they told.
6. Why was there no physical evidence? Jarecki fails to mention that the Friedmans pled guilty so none was sought. Physical evidence is typically rare in such cases. Many assume that child sexual abuse must leave gaping tears and telltale scars, but due to the nature of children‘s bodies, even when there are physical signs, most disappear in a few days.
7. Can Jesse‘s retraction of his father‘s abuse of him be believed? Jesse said in a 1989 interview that he was “halfway between loving and hating” his father. He said Arnold fondled and later sodomized him. Jesse started seeing a psychiatrist at the age of 10; he was diagnosed manic depressive. He started using drugs at 16 and was soon stoned on a daily basis; his weight ballooned; he had no friends. Court psychiatric testimony described Jesse‘s joy when his father turned from Jesse to children in the class. When interviewed on the Geraldo Rivera Show, Jesse sobbed while describing sexual abuse by his father and confessed to abusing three children. He said, “I fondled [the children]…I was forced to, to pose in hundreds of photos for my father in all sorts of sexual positions with the kids…” He now claims that his story and his tears were “fictionalized to win leniency”. However, he had already been sentenced. So which is the truth — his admission or his recent retraction?
8. What else do we know about the Friedmans? They often appear confused. Sometimes they remember that “it” happened, sometimes not. Arnold‘s brother and David hit their heads, saying maybe someday they‘ll remember something, but they don‘t, now. Jesse describes them as sweeping things under the rug. When Elaine saw one of Arnold‘s child porn magazines she didn‘t register what it was until she looked again. The film shows her being mistreated by her sons for questioning Arnold‘s innocence. Victoria News describes “one astonishing sequence [of the film], on the morning of one of the sons’ sentencing, the boys decide to shoot footage while harassing the parents of some of the alleged victims.”
9. What else do we know about Arnold? As a child, Arnold witnessed his mother having sex with various men. Elaine, in a 1989 article, said that her normally emotionless husband was almost in tears when police took his child porn photos. Arnold‘s motion from prison to have them returned (as well as the names and numbers of numerous victims) was denied. In the film, Jesse’s attorney describes Arnold in a prison visit asking to move to another table because he is excited by a 4 or 5 year old boy bouncing on his father’s lap nearby.
1. Bessent, A.E. (1989, May 28). The secret life of Arnold Friedman. Newsday. LI., NY
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-friedman052889,0,1128093.story?coll=ny-li-span-headlines Posted also among many other useful articles at http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/arnoldandjessefriedman.html
2. Vitello, P., Commentary: Interesting, not accurate. (2003, July 27) Newsday, LI . NY http://www.newsday.com/news/printedition/ny-livit273389114jul27,0,4000086.column?coll=ny-news-print
Additional information on the Friedman case :
“Detective Stands by Friedman Probe” By Robin Topping and Denise M. Bonilla – http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/ny-fried0111,0,7179404,print.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines
“Responding to charges of police coercion in the 1980s sex abuse case against Arnold and Jesse Friedman, the lead detective said children were never pressured into making accusations.” “Galasso denied hypnosis was used and said detectives did not coerce statements from the victims. Some of the victims also were reluctant to talk because Friedman and his father — who killed himself in prison in the mid-to-late 1990s — had threatened them if they disclosed the abuse, she said. Galasso said it was sometimes necessary to conduct multiple interviews to get the child’s whole story, which was often given in pieces. Many children also were questioned by parents, therapists and prosecutors, she said, who were told the same versions of events. In addition, a third person charged with abusing the students, Ross Goldstein, a neighbor who later pleaded guilty and aided the prosecution, corroborated several of the victims’ stories….Galasso said Friedman gave police a detailed confession and also failed two polygraph tests, which are not admissible in court.”
State of New York v. Arnold Friedman. Motion for order requiring return of property seized from 17 Picadilly Road, Great Neck, Nassau County, New York, seized pursuant to search warrant of November 25, 1987. Motion #C-427, Indictment #67104 & 67430. “Judge Abbey L. Boklan approved Arnold Friedmans’ request for the return of all property seized at the Friedman home with the exception of pornographic materials listed in this document. Materials include such items as: 5 pornographic movies, assorted order forms for pornography, assorted pornographic magazine cutouts, 2 partially nude photos of children, 3 sheets advertising homosexuality with boys, 6 photos of naked people, 3 battery operated sex aids, 1 hypodermic needle, 9 pornographic computer games (with descriptions), list of names and phone numbers of 9 victims, 2 registration sheets with names of victims.” http://leadershipcouncil.org/Media/CTF/bib/bib.html
Case of Arnold and Jesse Friedman “Capturing the Friedmans” http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/arnoldandjessefriedman.html
“Capturing the Friedmans”: Examining the Myths Behind the Movie “The assertion of suggestive therapy practices is contradicted by a statement by the two main clinicians who worked with the victims in the Friedman case. Dr. Sandra Kaplan and Dr. David Pelcovitz of NorthShore University Hospital in Long Island, both of whom are well-known experts in the field of psychological trauma, provided group therapy for the Friedmans’ victims. Drs. Kaplan and Pelcovitz emphasize that hypnosis was never used in the treatment of these children and that no therapy was offered until after all forensic evidence was gathered by the police (Pelcovitz, personal communication with Dr. Joyanna Silberg, January 11, 2004).” http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/Media/CTF/Myths/myths.html
Geraldo Rivera’s interview with Jesse Friedman – (Geraldo!) In a 1989 interview with Geraldo Rivera, Jesse by phone from prison sobbed as he described how he was sexually abused by his father, and confessed to sexually abusing three children himself. For a transcript ($6.00) contact Burrelle’s Transcripts at 1-800-777-8398, firstname.lastname@example.org or Burrelle’s Transcripts, Department I, P.O. Box 7, Livingston, NJ 07039-0007.
Excerpt from http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/ctf/bib.html
Geraldo Rivera’s interview with Jesse Friedman “Busting the Kiddie Porn Underground” February 23, 1989 — Geraldo!
The whole show was devoted to exposing the extent of the problem of child porn in America. The Friedman case is used as a prime example. Geraldo Rivera interviews Jesse in prison. Jesse confessed to Geraldo that he and his father abused 17 children (he was convicted of only abusing 13) and stated that even more children witnessed the abuse.
Jesse described his own abuse by his father which started at around age 8 (his father would fondle him while reading him bedtime stories) and progressed to sodomy. Jesse told in explicit detail how he and his father abused the children during computer classes and Jesse helped “keep the children in line” during the classes. When asked why the children never told, Jesse replied: “For the same reason I never told.” Jesse went on to reveal that he and his father threatened the children by telling them that they would “hunt down” their parents and burn their houses down if they talked. Several parents of the victims are interviewed. They note that the Friedmans also threatened to send explicit sexual pictures of the children to area newspapers and television stations. Jesse explains that child porn was his father’s “hobby” and admits that he posed for 100s of photographs and videos in which he sexually abused the children. Geraldo notes that Jesse told him the names of some of his father’s friends with whom he traded child porn.
Jesse’s attorney, Peter Panera, is interviewed. He tells how he and Jesse made a special trip to Wisconsin to visit Arnold Friedman in prison to convince him to reveal where he had hidden the photos and videos of the children. Arnold refused to reveal what he had done with them, despite the fact that it would have helped gain leniency for his son. Ms. Friedman also appears on the show. She suggests that the case against her son has been exaggerated.