Shalom Life | December 17, 2014

Student: Disgraced Rabbi Took University Students On Unauthorized Field Trips to Ritual Baths

Towson University student says Rabbi Barry Freundel, charged with voyeurism, insisted female students accompany him to a Georgetown synagogue

By: Daniel Koren

Published: October 21st, 2014 in News » World

Student: Disgraced Rabbi Took University Students On Unauthorized Field Trips to Ritual Baths

Photo Caption: Disgraced rabbi Barry Freundel


Last week, a 62-year-old D.C. rabbi, Barry Freundel, was arrested and charged with voyeurism, after a member of his congregation at Kesher Israel in Georgetown (where he's served as a rabbi since 1987) alleged that he set up an alarm clock radio with a secret camera to record women as they were bathing in a mikveh (a ritual Jewish bath).

Taken from his home in handcuffs, the rabbi will appear in court tomorrow, and has brought much shame and disgrace to his community, with police launching a full investigation into his actions.

Now, students and pupils of the rabbi have come out of the woodwork, with a senior at Towson University, Nicole Coniglio, telling the student-run newspaper, the Towerlight, that Freundel took her and her classmates on a "tour" of the Georgetown synagogue, and invited them to use the ritual bath - the same bath that he's been accused of spying on women as they bathed with secret cameras.

Coniglio claims that she declined to take part in the ritual bath, but that two of her classmates, who are Jewish, accepted his invitation, adding that the rabbi had invited several other female students to use the mikveh as well.

The rabbi was a teacher at the university since 1989, and often invited students to visit the Georgetown synagogue, Coniglio says.

Whether or not the students that accepted his invite were filmed remains to be seen, but police are investigating all claims, and have begun examining computers, storage devices, cameras and other files that were seized from the rabbi's home last Tuesday.

Towson University stated, for the first time, Monday that they were aware that the rabbi was extending such invitations to female students, and that he took them on "unauthorized field trips" to Kesher Israel, though they insisted that they were unaware of any tours of the mikveh.

The school has begun contacting former and current students who had visited the synagogue with Freundel in hopes to obtain new information regarding the rabbi's exploits, and have asked students who did so to please come forward.

Seeing how he's taught at the university for 25 years, and has been a rabbi at Kesher Israel for 27 years, police have yet to confirm for how long exactly the rabbi has been spying on the synagogue's female congregants, and students like Coniglio who were invited on a "tour."

A spokesperson for Towson, Ray Feldmann, said that "there is no indication that these activities occurred on the Towson University campus."

Freundel, a modern Orthodox rabbi, and formerly revered for his advocacy of converts to Judaism, has been charged with six counts of voyeurism. According to an affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court, police apparently believe that he's been “engaging in the criminal act of voyeurism in several locations and with the use of several devices and over a period of time.”

The Washington Post reports that one woman said she saw the "suspicious" clock radio as early as 2012.

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