Nassau County investigators reviewing the case of Jesse Friedman, who’s been fighting to have his 1988 child molestation conviction overturned for nearly a decade, have determined that he was not wrongfully convicted.
District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office released Monday the 155-page report on the court-suggested review three years after it began. Friedman, a registered Level Three sex offender, maintained his innocence and insisted he will continue his legal fight.
“There’s nothing but lies in the report,” Friedman, 46, told reporters at a Mineola news conference shortly after its release. “I look forward to the opportunity to have witnesses in court with a judge…and a trial I was never afforded to have when I was 19 years old.”
Rice released a statement that read, in part: “We were fully prepared to exonerate Mr. Friedman if that’s where the facts led us. But the facts, under any objective analysis, led to a substantially different conclusion.”
Friedman and his father, Arnold, pled guilty in 1989 to sexually abusing more than a dozen children enrolled in a computer class taught at the Friedmans’ Great Neck home. Arnold died in prison; Jesse was paroled in 2001.
The case was subject of the Oscar-nominated 2003 documentary Capturing the Friedmans that highlights inconsistencies in both the victims’ accounts and the investigation.
One of the filmmakers, Andrew Jarecki, joined Friedman, his wife and attorney, Ron Kuby, at the news conference. “We delivered to the district attorney over 1,700 pages of materials…she never called us with questions,” Jarecki said.
But, a review panel appointed to aid the investigation wrote in their summary that by reviewing the case, it “has only increased confidence in the integrity of Jesse Friedman’s guilty plea and adjudication as a sex offender.”
Kuby said the investigators didn’t re-interview the victims—now grown men—who he said were forced by police to give false statements.
“We have spent the past three years…consistently doing the thing DA Rice has not done, which is to re-investigate, talk to the witnesses who have never been spoken too, and talk to the young men who were coerced and bullied into giving false statements,” Kuby said. “I never trusted D.A Rice’s transformation from obviate obstructer to born again seeker of truth.”
The case will be subject of a hearing at Nassau County court on Friday.
“It’s painful when people lie about you and it’s really painful when the district attorney lies about you,” Friedman said. “Today is not the worst day of my life. I’ve had many, many, many worst days than today.”
The full report can be found at the district attorney’s website www.nassauda.org.