While the criminal trial of Rabbi Barry Freundel, formerly of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., on six counts of voyeurism has not yet begun, some women who allege they are Freundel’s victims have joined a class-action civil lawsuit against his former employers, seeking to be compensated for emotional injuries.
A team of attorneys from the Baltimore-based firm Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White LLC, led by attorney Steven Kelly, held a news conference at the National Press Club last week announcing the addition of the Rabbinical Council of America to the list of defendants in the civil action they filed earlier this month.
RCA now joins Kesher Israel, the National Capital Mikvah and Georgetown University as defendants in the suit, all of which are accused of negligently failing to oversee Freundel prior to his arrest in October, despite previous RCA inquiries into improper conduct between Freundel and conversion candidates.
Two plaintiffs who believe themselves to be victims of Freundel (the U.S. Attorney’s office has not publicly released the identities of the six victims listed in the criminal complaint) were also added to the case. They are Emma Shulevitz, 27, of Rockville, and Towson University student Stephanie Smith.
“For years, Defendants turned a blind eye to obvious signs of Freundel’s increasingly bizarre and obviously improper behavior, ignoring the bright red flags that Freundel was acting inappropriately with women subjected to his authority,” said the plaintiffs in their complaint.