When Rabbi Bernard “Barry” Freundel, a nationally recognized authority in Jewish law, and the longstanding rabbi of Georgetown Synagogue-Kesher Israel Congregation was arrested in October 2014 on charges of voyeurism, the news made national headlines and generated two proposed class action suits.
On Tuesday, in a significant move forward, the D.C. Superior Court issued an omnibus order establishing a series of deadlines for vigorous prosecution of several proposed class actions arising out of Freundel’s voyeuristic and criminal acts.
The order set dates for the filing of a consolidated class action complaint, specifies deadlines for the close of fact and expert witness discovery, and directs that any motion for class certification be submitted on May 12, 2017, with a hearing on class certification to be held on June 13, 2017. In another important move, the Court appointed Sanford Heisler, LLP as interim class counsel.
The lawsuit arose from a shocking betrayal of trust by Bernard Freundel.
Early in 2015, Freundel plead guilty, in a criminal proceeding before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to numerous counts of illicitly filming women as they used the “mikvah”- a Jewish ritual bath frequently used by married Orthodox women as well as by women undergoing conversion to Judaism.
The law firm of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, filed one of the original class actions.
“We are honored to bring relief to the women who were so terribly abused by Bernard Freundel’s illegal conduct,” said Ira Sherman, founding partner who is collaborating with Sanford Heisler on this matter. “It’s a team effort we are proud of and I am confident that together we can achieve some measure of justice for the victims in this case.”
After briefing and argument, Judge Brian Holeman appointed Sanford Heisler, David Sanford’s Chairman, as lead interim counsel.
In response David Sanford said, “We are gratified that Judge Holeman selected our firm to serve as interim class counsel.
It is a serious responsibility and one we are confident that we can handle successfully.
Our firm has a long history of representing women who have suffered gender discrimination. This suit is another variation on a sadly too-familiar theme.”