Posted August 28th, 2018.
The Georgetown Synagogue – Kesher Israel Congregation, National Capital Mikvah, Rabbinical Council of America & Beth Din of America Reach Agreement With Victims
August 28, 2018, New York – Last night, attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp filed for preliminary approval of a $14.25 million class-action settlement in Jane Doe 2 v. Georgetown Synagogue – Kesher Israel Congregation et al., pending in DC Superior Court.
The class-action lawsuit arises from a deplorable betrayal of trust by disgraced Rabbi Bernard Freundel, a once-prominent rabbi who for years illicitly filmed women as they undressed in a Jewish ritual bath facility he oversaw, called the National Capital Mikvah. The U.S. Attorney’s Office ultimately confirmed that he filmed over 150 women, and Freundel was convicted of numerous counts of voyeurism. Women victimized by Freundel filed a class-action lawsuit against him and four religious institutions that he was affiliated with – The Georgetown Synagogue-Kesher Israel Congregation, the National Capital Mikvah, Inc., The Rabbinical Council of America, Inc., and the Beth Din of the United States of America. These organizations are the settling defendants in the class action settlement.
The settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and was reached only after nearly two years of negotiations with the settling defendants. The settling defendants did not admit any liability as part of the settlement and specifically denied any wrongdoing. The $14.25 million payment will be made by the liability insurer for several of the settling defendants.
“This settlement will help the many women traumatized by Freundel avoid the ordeal of protracted litigation – including its burdens, risks, costs, and uncertainties,” said David Sanford, founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp and Lead Interim Class Counsel for the proposed class. “This settlement provides an excellent recovery for class members in a complex and highly sensitive matter.”
The class action settlement covers a proposed class of females who were videotaped by Freundel or otherwise used the National Capital Mikvah. According to the Settlement, class members who complete minimal paperwork will receive $25,000 if they were confirmed as videotaped by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and those who used the Mikvah but were not confirmed as videotaped will receive $2,500 if they attest that they experienced emotional distress after learning about Freundel’s videotaping. In addition, these class members will have the opportunity to recover even larger total payments if they complete a more detailed Claim Form. To make the Claim Form as easy to answer as possible, the Claim Form provides class members with checkboxes to indicate the harms they suffered and does not require class members to provide any further narrative. The paperwork that class members must complete in order to obtain payments will be kept strictly confidential and not provided to the public, Freundel, or any of the other Defendants.
About Sanford Heisler Sharp
Sanford Heisler Sharp is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in Washington, DC, and Baltimore, as well as New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and Nashville. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.
The Firm is committed to civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, sexual violence, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the Firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.