Case Chronology

November 3, 1987

Postal Inspector John McDermott execute a search of the Friedman home, for “materials related to the manufacturing and distributing of child pornography.” They find approximately twenty magazines, but no evidence of self-produced pornography. They also find a list of names of students who had attended Arnold Friedman’s after-school computer classes over the prior several years.

November 4, 1987

Informed of the search by federal agents, Detective Sergeant Fran Galasso initiates an investigation into possible child sexual abuse in Arnold Friedman’s computer classes. There have been no complaints of abuse from children and no parent has reported physical or psychological symptoms of abuse. Five pairs of two-detective teams begin interviewing students based upon a confiscated list of 81 names.

November 23, 1987

Detectives interviewed over 30 children, none of whom had disclosed any report of sexual abuse or sodomy. Most said, “Nothing happened.”

November 25, 1987

Nassau County detectives execute a search of the Friedman house and arrest Arnold and Jesse Friedman on charges of child sexual abuse.

November 26, 1987

Bail set at arraignment for Arnold Friedman at $1,000,000 and for Jesse Friedman bail is set at $500,000

December 3, 1987

ADA Onorato files in court a certificate stating the Grand Jury has voted on an indictment of sex abuse charges.

Arnold Friedman is charged with three counts of possession, sending and receiving child pornography through the U.S. mail.

December 8, 1987

Excessive and illegal bail was appealed and overturned. Jesse Friedman released from jail. Arnold Friedman’s confinement continues due to a non-release hold in federal court.

December 9, 1987

Arnold and Jesse Friedman are arraigned on a first indictment, #67104, which contains fifty-two counts of child sexual abuse against five children. Newsday reports, "Onorato said in an interview that since the grand jury heard evidence, investigators have identified ten children who either participated in or witnessed sexual acts in the computer class. He said that last week he had met with about 15 families of victims, police and a psychiatrist from Great Neck."

December 14, 1987

First of two community meetings held sponsored by the P.T.A. Sandra Kaplan, M.D., Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Professor at Cornell Medical College attended, along with Det. Galasso, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Onorato, and others. Onorato mentioned: classes were held since 1984, and that incorrectly there were100-120 students a year for the past four years equals 480-500 possible victims.

January 14, 1988

Joint P.T.A. Meeting E.M. Baker and Saddle Rock Elementary Schools Program on Child Sexual Abuse1. Sandra Kaplan mentioned: all kids, victims or witnesses, should have an evaluation by a sexual abuse specialized person or team, then probably a brief intervention (six sessions).

January 29, 1988

Dr. Sandra Kaplan gives interview to the Great Neck Record, stating, "The children I have seen who were victims seem to be very compassionate people and, if anything, the concerns of these children are they don't want to be responsible in any way. (sic) They are asking whether in fact a person who goes to prison will get help there. We've been very impressed with the level of morality of the children we have been working with."

February 1, 1988

A second grand jury hears testimony. At least one child testifies via video tape.

February 4, 1988

The Great Neck Record reported on the two community meetings of Dec 14 and Jan. 14, quoting Dr. Sandra Kaplan, "'All psychiatric records are kept confidential,' is the assurance that Dr. Kaplan gives to parents of patients. She explained that the records of the recent child sex abuse case in Great Neck are kept under lock and key because of the extraordinary and sensitive scope of the case. 'No records are released to anyone without written consent from the families involved,'"

February 8, 1988

Arnold Friedman pleads guilty in federal court to one count of mailing child pornography.

February 9, 1988

Arnold and Jesse Friedman are arraigned on indictment #67430, which contains ninety-one counts of sexual abuse against eight additional children. The arraignment is covered in court by television cameras and photographers. This is the first time a judge has ever permitted cameras inside a Nassau County courtroom.

March 25, 1988

Arnold Friedman pleads guilty before Judge Boklan to all felony counts in Indictments 67104 and 67430 in exchange for a promised sentence of ten to thirty years, to run concurrently with any sentence imposed in federal court. Faced with the prospect of being re-arrested and prosecuted based on the allegations of other children, he provides a lengthy “closeout” statement to detectives, confessing to acts of molestation against every child whose name is raised by the police. Detectives will use this statement in subsequent visits to children’s houses.

March 28, 1988

Arnold Friedman is sentenced to ten years in federal prison.

May 3, 1988

Daily News, Newsday, NY Times, NY Post, and LI News 12 all have their applications granted to ultimately cover the case live throughout.

May 13, 1988

Arnold Friedman is sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison on the state charges.

June 3, 1988

Peter Panaro is retained by Jesse Friedman as sole attorney on the case.

June 1988

Ross G. and Danny A. are detained by Nassau County detectives and questioned regarding involvement in the Friedman home and sexual abuse of children during the computer classes.

June 22, 1988

Ross G. is arrested based on a felony complaint alleging 18 counts of child sexual abuse committed in the Friedman's computer classes. Newsday reports, "The newly cited victims, all boys aged 7-11, were sodomized and forced to perform orals sex in full view of other computer students, police said. Additional details of the abuse were revealed by previously identified victims during sessions with their therapists, Galasso said."

June 23, 1988

Jesse Friedman is arraigned on a felony complaint charging thirty-seven new counts of sexual abuse. Newsday reports, "Police said they expect to arrest as many as four acquaintances of Jesse Friedman in the burgeoning case. And prosecutor Joseph Onorato said yesterday, 'There are allegations that, in full view of these classes, Arnold and Jesse were sodomizing one another.'"

Newsday, "The investigation got a boost when, as part of a plea bargain, Arnold Friedman identified about 80 boys he had sexually abused, sources have said. The eight-member police task force handling the cases then began contacting newly identified victims and their families while continuing interviews in already surfaced cases."

September 8, 1988

Ross G. signs a cooperation agreement. The prosecution agreed that in return for the defendant's testimony, it would recommend to the sentencing court that the defendant "receive a sentence of no more than six months in jail, youthful offender status, [five years] probation".

October 19, 1988-November 2, 1988

Testimony is brought before a third Grand Jury: seven children testify (three of whom have previously testified before the earlier grand juries which brought the first two indictments) bringing the total number of complainant witnesses to seventeen. Ross G. also testifies.

November 3, 1988

Great Neck Record announces a community meeting to be held at Temple Beth El regarding "Sexual Abuse of Children". "Group Psychotherapy Sessions Will Be Described" the article announces. "...North Shore University Hospital will conduct group psychotherapy sessions. These group sessions, which have the benefit of bringing together children who share the same problems, are for youngsters who are not currently receiving treatment and, additionally, to augment the treatment of children already receiving private, on-going therapy."

November 15, 1988

Jesse Friedman and Ross G. are arraigned on Indictment 69783, which contains 302 counts of child sexual abuse against seven children. "Onorao said Goldstein incriminated Jesse Friedman [and two other suspects] in testimony before the grand jury that handed down the new indictment on November 7."

November 1987

Planned dates for group therapy at North Shore University Hospital are Nov. 30, Dec. 7, and Dec. 14, 1988 but sessions are postponed.

November 16, 1988

Community meeting held at Temple Beth El, during which “group psychotherapy sessions will be described.” Panelists include: Sandra Kaplan, Det. Fran Galasso, Carol Samit C.S.W., Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry North Shore University Hospital; Thomas Feniger Ph.D, Director of Pupil Personnel Services Great Neck Public Schools; Victor Fornari M.D., Physician in Charge of Pediatric Consolation Liaison Services and Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical Center.

December 20, 1988

Jesse Friedman pleads guilty before Judge Boklan to twenty-four counts in full satisfaction of the three indictments against him in exchange for a promised sentence of six to eighteen years.

January 24, 1989

Jesse Friedman is sentenced by Judge Boklan to six to eighteen years.

Winter/Spring 1989

Children Group therapy sessions with victims of extrafamilial sex abuse at North Shore University Hospital. “Of the 15 children seen in the two groups, six children had no memories of being victimized even though members witnessed their abuse. A technique that was useful in helping these children remembering was having all group members draw pictures of the room where they were victimized and speak about their memories of the classes using the pictures as visual aid. With the help of this technique, two group members who had amnesia for the abuse, remembered most of the detail of their victimization. Two of the remaining four have had vague but not detailed memories and the remaining two continue to not remember their abuse.”

February 3, 1989

"Unbeknownst to the defendant Ross G., the District Attorney’s office represents to the victims' families that the defendant would not be allowed to plead guilty to anything less than the top counts of the indictment, which were class B violent felonies.2 This served to invalidate the promised sentence of the co-operation agreement.

March 22, 1989

Ross G. pleads guilty to three counts of sodomy in the first degree, and one count of use of a child in a sexual performance.

May 3, 1989

Ross G. is sentenced to two to six years by Judge Boklan, contrary to cooperation agreement.

July 1990

Thirteen months after filing his appeal the Second Department reverses Judge Boklan and orders that she re-sentences Ross G. to the originally promised term of six months.

July 21, 1990

Ross G. released from Collins Correctional Facility, Helmuth, N.Y.

July 24, 1990

Ross G. resentenced before Judge Boklan: time served, youthful offender, five years probation.

Fall 2000

Andrew Jarecki begins production of a documentary about children’s birthday party entertainers, which eventually becomes “Capturing the Friedmans”. He first contacts Jesse Friedman about the project in March 2001.

December 7, 2001

After thirteen years, and being denied parole four times, Jesse Friedman is released from prison to five years of parole supervision.


1Panelist includes: Sandra Kaplan; Dr. Arthur Green M.D., Professor Columbia University; Joyce Kates ACSW, Schneider’s Children’s Hospital; Jean Forman, Executive Director Nassau Coalition on Child abuse and Neglect; and Det. Fran Galasso.

2People v. Ross G. 163 A.D.2d 529 (1990)

The Case Story

 

Chronology of Legal Documents

2016

June 3, 2016

NYS Court of Appeals to hear Friedman request to open files. Click here to read.

2015

July 21, 2015

Motion to Reconstruct Record of Friedman Conviction
Click here to read

June 3, 2015

Judge in Jesse Friedman Case Removes Herself From Actual Innocence Hearing, June 3
Click here to read

April 29, 2015

DA opposes Friedman discovery (Click here to read)

April 1, 2015

Friedman Files Appeal in Defamation Case (Click here to read)

March 9, 2015

Ron Kuby's Affirmation to Recuse Judge Corrigan (Click here to read)

March 9, 2015

Bruce Green's Affirmation to Recuse Judge Corrigan (Click here to read)

February, 2015

Judge Denies Friedman Defamation Suit (Click here to read)

2014

December 23, 2014

Judge Orders Hearing But Denies Claims (Click here to read)

October 24, 2014

Judge Corrigan Refuses Recusal (Click here to read)

June 23, 2014

Jesse Friedman Files Motion in Nassau County Court to Open File and Overturn His 1988 Conviction (Click here to read)

2013

December 20, 2013

Friedman's brief to affirm decision to open files, Appellate Court, Second Department (Click here to read)

December 23, 2013

Legal Filing Requests NY State Appellate Court Affirm Judge's Decision to Order Friedman Files Opened (Click here to read)

October 13, 2013

District Attorney brief appealing decision to open Friedman Files (Click here to read)

September 20, 2013

Jesse Friedman Files Notice of Intent to Sue Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for Defamation (Click here to read)

September 13, 2013

Friedman Asks Appellate Court to Open Files of Police Investigation (Click here to read)

August 23, 2013

Judge Winslow Decision (Click here to read)

August 7, 2013

Petitioner’s Reply Memorandum of Law (Click here to read)

2012

May 2012

Jesse Friedman appears before Review Panel (Click here to read)

March 2012

Friedman "standards brief" (Click here to read)

2010

November 2010

DA Kathleen Rice announces "distinguished panel of experts" in conjunction with internal re-investigation (Click here to read)

July 2010

Second Circuit Decision (Click here to read)

DA Kathleen Rice announces conviction review (Click here to read)

2009

July 29, 2009

People's Supplemental Brief to Second Circuit (Click here to read)

July 20, 2009

Supplemental Motion: Actual Innocence petition to Second Circuit (Click here to read)

July 8, 2009

Oral Arguments before Second Circuit (Click here to read)

March 10, 2009

Brief for Respondents-Appellees, DA Opposition to Appeal Federal Habeas Corpus (Click here to read)

2008

November 2008

Federal Habe Papers submitted to Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Click here to read)

July 22, 2008

Certificate of Appealability (Click here to read)

January 24, 2008

DA Opposition to Certificate of Appealability (Click here to read)

January 4, 2008

Memorandum and Order Judge Seybert Federal District Court (Click here to read)

Petition for Certificate of Appealability (Click here to read)

2007

October 3, 2007

Oral Arguments before Judge Seybert (Click here to read)

September 9, 2007

Memorandum and Order: Judge Seybert Federal District Court (Click here to read)

August 21, 2007

Respondent's Papers submitted to Judge Seybert (Click here to read)

August 14, 2007

Respondent Letter to Judge Seybert (Click here to read)

2006

September 11, 2006

Respondent's Answer, Affirmation and Motion in Support to Dismiss Motion (Habeas Corpus) (Click here to read)

June 23, 2006

Federal Habeas Corpus petition (Click here to read)

January 6, 2006

Decision and Order Judge LaPera County Court Nassau County (Click here to read)

2004

November 4, 2004

DA Affirmation in Opposition to 440.10 Motion (Click here to read)

Supplemental memorandum of Law (Click here to read)

January 2004

440 Motion, memorandum of law in support of motion to vacate conviction (Click here to read)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why did the children say they were abused if it was not true?
  2. What about Ross Goldstein?
  3. What about the pornographic computer games?
  4. You already served your time.  Why are you continuing to pursue these matters?
  5. Why did you tell the press that you committed these crimes if, as you say now, you are innocent?
  6. Yes, but why did you plead guilty in the first place if, as you now say, you are innocent?
  7. Is there anything I can do to help?

Why did the children say they were abused if it was not true?

The children said they were abused only after they were suggestively and coercively questioned by detectives.  Not one child made any allegation of abuse until after police initiated an investigation and began knocking on doors and interviewing children.  And that investigation wasn't precipitated by any complaint brought to the attention of authorities.  It was initiated after the postal inspectors searched my house looking for child pornography.

When the detectives approached children and questioned them about being abused, the children told the police nothing bad had happened to them.  My 440 motion illustrates that the detectives questioned the children in specific ways that scientific literature has conclusively and overwhelmingly shown can elicit false allegations of sexual abuse.  I understand that most children who are sexually abused do not tell.  However, most children who are sexually abused, if they are specifically questioned about it, tell the truth when an adult suspects and is questioning for corroboration.  Uniformly, upon initial questioning, the children told the police nothing happened.

The police would visit children over and over as the children denied abuse. Then they would return until a child finally agree that he was abused.  In one case, they visited a child 15 times before that child gave a statement of abuse. The detectives would also tell children that I (or my father) were child molesters; that they already knew the children were abused because other children told the police they witnessed the abuse.  In one case, a detective is overhead on tape telling a child that if he doesn't admit that he was abused, he will grow up to be child molester himself.  Other complainants were treated by therapists who used visualization techniques to help the children remember abuse.  These therapists believed that children were traumatized and forgot that they were violently abused (that were suffering from amnesia).  Special therapeutic tactics were used to help the children remember.  The U.S. and British psychiatric associations have specifically warned therapists not to use these tactics to help children remember sexual abuse, because they can contribute to false memories of abuse

A summary explanation of my appeal motion is available.

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What about Ross Goldstein?

Ross Goldstein was one of three other teenagers who the police came to believe were involved in a sex ring of abuse during the computer classes.  Goldstein was arrested and charged as my co-defendant for molesting children in the computer classes.  The day after he made bail the D.A. offered him a plea bargain deal in exchange for testifying against me. 

Three months passed while he vehemently denied any involvement, and proclaimed his inability to cooperate with the D.A. because he didn't know anything.  During this time the police interrogated and attempted to arrest two friends of Goldstein's.  The police claim there were, at times, five adults and as many as ten children present during computer classes, creating a "sex-ring" of abuse. 

Eventually, the D.A. offered Goldstein a sentence of six months in jail with a sealed criminal record if he would turn state's witness.  He accepted this deal and cooperated with the Nassau County Police department.  No charges were ever brought against any other alleged defendants, nor were they ever arrested, even though they are both named in the indictment as aiding and abetting in sexual abuse. 

Goldstein did not know I was as equally innocent as he was himself. Goldstein knew only what he read in the newspaper, namely that my father had already confessed and plead guilty.  He was threatened with 50 years in prison, just like I was, if he declined the plea bargain.  He had no reason to risk a life-sentence by standing trial as a co-defendant of someone who he thought was guilty. 

Goldstein was charged as a habitual violent sexual child molester.  The police and District Attorney's office offered him a deal of absolutely no time in prison and no criminal record – thereby releasing right back into the community someone who they seemingly believed to be a child molester.  Or rather law enforcement only wanted his testimony to assure that I backed down from my insistence of a open-court trial.

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What about the pornographic computer games?

The computer's were not “loaded” with pornographic video games.  The programs were on five inch floppy disks in a file box along with hundreds of other floppy disks, all unlabeled.  Computers in 1986 did not have hard-drives or store programs.  In order for one of those games to end up being viewed by a computer student the program would have to be located and then it would take ten minutes for the program to load into the computer's RAM.  I never allowed any computer student to play an inappropriate game.  I'm sure some of the children had seen the "pornographic" games which the police speak about however, because virtually every kid who had a Commodore 64 had those same games which they had traded with their friends. 

Judd Maltin explained in his sworn affidavit submitted in support of my motion the following: 

"My family moved to a smaller home in the winter of 1987.  By that time I had lost interest in personal computers, and I decided to give to Arnold Friedman my entire collection of software.  The pornographic video games that were discovered by the police were in common circulation among the community of Great Neck youth who used personal computers and with whom I had traded software.  I never heard Arnold or Jesse Friedman make mention of any of this software, and I think it is highly likely that he never used any of the software that I gave him."

The fact is that I was charged with showing so-called pornographic computer games to computer students before my father ever even came into possession of many of those programs.

This is from Ron Georgalis's sworn affidavit in support of my motion:

"I do not remember the exact nature of the questions or my responses, other than that I denied that anything inappropriate had happened to me.  I do, however, remember very vividly being taken into our computer room alone with Detective Hatch, where he showed me the computer program, 'Jerky Mouse,' confiscated from the Friedman home.  The program consisted of a cartoon mouse masturbating, and I told him that I had not ever seen it before."

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You already served your time.  Why are you continuing to pursue these matters?

Even though my parole is now over, I will forever remain a convicted sex-offender, and I'll have to register as such under Megan's Law for the rest of my life. But that's really not the issue.

The easy thing to do would be to put the past behind me and move on with my life.  No matter what the outcome before a judge may be, nothing can restore to me all the years of my life which have been lost.  But I am not a child molester and I will never stop fighting to prove that fact.

This is no longer just about some sense of justice for myself. Clearly, my incarceration and parole are over. I am moving forward with my life.  However, my arrest affected and hurt many people other than myself.  There are these now grown men, formally of my father's computer classes, who have grown up believing they were sexually abused, when I know it is not true.  The parents of these men; the siblings of these men; so many people have been hurt by the actions of the police (with their inappropriate investigation methodology) and also, as we are now learning, the inappropriate practices on the part of the therapists who were involved with the investigation. The light of truth needs to be exposed upon this case not just for myself, but because of so many others. The exploration of these matters is necessary for healing to take place.

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Why did you tell the press that you committed these crimes if, as you say now, you are innocent?

Once I had decided to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence I was faced with two equally bad options.  I could either continue to protest my innocence, in which case I would be considered in denial about my criminal behavior, a danger of re-offending, and the Parole Board would never release me.  Or I could appear contrite, and accepting of responsibility for my criminal behavior, in which case it would mean agreeing with the State that I was a serial child rapist, and the Parole Board would never release me.  The advice that adults gave me was to say was that I had done these terrible crimes, but that there were mitigating circumstance – that I was a victim too. 

I knew there would be television cameras in the courtroom filming my sentencing.  I was rationally terrified about being attacked and abused in prison by other inmates and corrections officers, and I believed that they might see the show and have sympathy for me.  I was aware that child molesters were not treated well in prison.  I hoped that if they heard me say that I did not willingly hurt anyone (that my father forced me to do those terrible things) that I might be treated differently.  I had a good idea about what life was like for child molesters in prison.  I felt that my only hope for safety in prison was to claim that I too had been a victim of my father and pray for sympathy and compassion. 

Only a few weeks after I enter prison, I agreed to be interviewed for the Geraldo television show.  I was nineteen years old, in solitary confinement, at the very start of my prison sentence, traumatized and depressed.  I spoke to Geraldo Rivera in what I believed to be a last-ditch effort to obtain public sympathy and explain the situation in some way.  Up to that time the press had done nothing but vilify me.  In my interview for the Geraldo show, I said that I had been molested by my father and sexually abused children in the computer classes.  I am ashamed about going on the Geraldo show and telling those lies.  I did this for the same reasons that I told Judge Boklan a similar confession.  I had already pled guilty to these crimes (so protesting my innocence was moot), I was facing a long sentence, and it was the only explanation for this alleged criminal behavior which I thought would provide me an opportunity to be released from prison before the full 18 years of my sentence had passed.

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Yes, but why did you plead guilty in the first place if, as you now say, you are innocent?

The judge made it clear that she would sentence me consecutively on every count of guilty after a trial by jury.  With 243 counts against me, even if they jury debated if each and every crime was proved "beyond a reasonable doubt"  they could have returned a verdict of "Guilty" on maybe only ten counts. That would have been fifty years in prison.

It was impossible for me to call any defense witnesses.  Theoretically I should have been able to call as witnesses children who were in the very same computer classes where another child was claiming to having been raped, and who told the police, "I was there and I never saw anything like that happen."  However, the police and District Attorney withheld discovery material from me and my attorney.  This violation of my Constitutional rights made it virtually impossible for me to take my case to trial proving my innocence.

Plus, my father had already pleaded guilty. Once my father had plead guilty it was extremely difficult for me to mount a defense as my father and I were charged (in legal terminology) with "a common scheme and plan" -- meaning that we acted collectively in carrying out the crimes.  In fact a number of the charges to which my father plead guilty to in court also charged me as aiding and abetting -- claiming I held a child down while my father raped the child.  My father's guilty plea directly implicated me making a trail all the more difficult.

Plus, Ross Goldstein was going to testify against me at trial in order to save himself from going to prison unjustly also for perhaps 100 years.  Plus, the judge had already approved local News 12, Long Island's local 24 hour cable news channel, permission to cover the trial live on T.V.  Plus, I had no money for expert witnesses on the matters of suggestive questioning and implanted memory.  (For that matter, money would not have helped that either way because in 1988 conventional wisdom still believed that it was logical to conclude that the reason why a child said they were not sexually abused when questioned was because they actually were sexually abused, instead of thinking the child was telling the truth when they said nothing happened.  Plus, in the weeks leading up to the beginning of my trial and when I had to make this decision, Kelly Michaels in New Jersey was convicted by a jury of the most implausible accusations, and sentenced to 47 years in prison.  I had no way of believing a jury in Nassau County wouldn't equally convict me.  I also had no way of knowing that five years later she would walk out of prison a free woman arm-in-arm with William Kunstler after many attorneys fought to overturn her conviction.  If I had gone to trial, and lost, there is no way to know if I would be one of the lucky ones to have their convictions overturned.  There are still many people in prison convicted of mass-hysteria sexual abuse cases.

My mother was insistent on there not being any trial.  She did not want me to fight the case at trial and made her position clear.  My mother realized that I was going to lose my trial and would be sentenced to a lifetime in prison.  She had meetings with my attorney privately to discuss how to best convince me to accept a plea bargain.  Panaro knew that the best thing for me was to accept the plea bargain even though I wanted a trial.  He knew that no matter how good a lawyer he was, or thought he was, or hoped he was, I was going to lose my trial and would spend my entire life in prison.  Panaro did what he thought was best for his client even though he did not do exactly what his client asked of him.

No matter how you consider my situation the only possible outcome for me was to accept the plea bargain and hope to get out of prison after "only" six years.

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Is there anything I can do to help?

The Jesse Friedman Legal Defense Fund www.jessefriedmanfefensefund.org