Press Releases & Statements
For Immediate Release
Nassau DA Kathleen Rice Agrees to Full Evidentiary Hearing in Jesse Friedman’s Case Based upon Actual Innocence Claims
All Evidence of Jesse Friedman’s Innocence, Going Back to the Original Investigation, Will Be Presented in Court
(Nassau County, NY – Wednesday September 10, 2014) The Nassau DA, who has vigorously prevented Jesse Friedman his day in court, has finally agreed to an evidentiary hearing based upon actual innocence claims. According to the filng by the Nassau County District Attorney, “For the reasons set forth in this affirmation and the accompanying memorandum of law, the People consent to a hearing on defendant’s actual innocence claims.” http://bit.ly/1lTyQcf
Ron Kuby, attorney for Jesse Friedman, said, “After 11 years of requesting Jesse Friedman's case be heard in a court of law, we are pleased that the District Attorney can obstruct no longer, and has consented to a full hearing. All evidence of Jesse Friedman's innocence will finally be presented in court. Everything, going back to the original investigation, will now be heard.”
The new evidence includes:
- A nine-page written recantation by the prosecution’s chief witness, who was the only adult to testify against Friedman in 1988, describing how after being threatened with life in prison, he was coached by the Assistant DA to lie and implicate Jesse Friedman.
- Recantations from five of the original child “victims” who admit they were coerced into providing false testimony against Friedman about crimes that actually never occurred.
- Statements of over 25 eyewitnesses to the Friedman computer classes, who state that nothing happened.
- Documents showing that detectives lied, ignored children’s denials of abuse, bullied children in interviews lasting as long as seven hours at a time, and then composed false statements for the children that implicated Jesse Friedman and others.
In 1988, in the midst of a national hysteria regarding false allegations of child sexual abuse in schools and day care centers (epitomized by the now-overturned McMartin Preschool case), police alleged that Jesse Friedman, his father Arnold, and three other teenagers had violently abused hundreds of children attending after-school computer classes at the Friedmans' Great Neck home, though over a period of five years, no child or parent had ever complained, and no medical or physical evidence was ever produced.
18 year-old Jesse Friedman, then a freshman studying music and psychology at SUNY Purchase, was charged with 243 counts of child sexual abuse, and forced to plead guilty after being threatened with life in prison by Judge Abigail Boklan who, despite having heard no evidence in the case, was convinced of Jesse Friedman’s guilt. Friedman served 13 years in maximum-security prisons and remains branded as a Level III “violent sexual predator.”
After Friedman fought for decades to clear his name, in 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an extraordinary opinion, concluding that there was a “reasonable likelihood Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted.”
Barry Scheck, the most prominent member of District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s “Friedman Case Advisory Panel” and co-founder of The Innocence Project, submitted a sworn statement asking the Court to undertake a “full evidentiary hearing” and release to Friedman’s lawyers the original case files that have been kept secret by the DA for over 27 years.
In Scheck’s words: “I believe it would be desirable for the court and the parties, utilizing whatever procedural mechanisms the court deems suitable, to review materials not available to the Advisory Panel, such as grand jury minutes, the original case file, and the results of the re-investigation to aid in finally resolving, to the extent possible the issue of Jesse Friedman’s guilt or innocence.”
Scheck joins a chorus of other respected voices in criminal justice in requesting the disclosure of these files:
- In 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision stating there was a “reasonable likelihood Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted” and calling for the case files to be opened and the evidence presented at a new hearing. DA Rice refused.
- In 2013, N. Scott Banks, the former law secretary for the Judge who convicted Jesse, wrote a letter of support requesting that Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Winslow “grant Mr. Friedman’s application, and direct the District Attorney to disclose this extremely relevant evidence to his attorneys and provide a level of transparency very much needed in this matter.”
- In 2013, after reviewing the documents and holding multiple hearings on the issue, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice F. Dana Winslow conveyed from the bench his grave concerns about the exculpatory nature of the materials withheld from Friedman, and ordered the disclosure of “every piece of paper” with Friedman’s name on it. DA Rice appealed the decision to the Appellate Court, Second Department. Oral arguments in the case are expected shortly.
For more information about Jesse Friedman’s wrongful conviction, go to www.freejesse.net.