Media & News

Little Joy in Victory For Boys' Families

Newsday, January 25, 1989

By Alvin E. Bessent

For about a dozen people who came to court to see Jesse Friedman imprisoned for sexually abusing their sons, the sentencing yesterday was at best a bittersweet end to a sordid affair.

After sitting through countless, gut-wrenching proceedings in the past year in the Mineola court room of Nassau County Court Judge Abbey Boklan, they were glad to see Friedman finally on his way to prison, two parents said after discussing the matter with the others. And they were gratified at the judge's recommendation that Friedman, 19, serve the full 18-year sentence.

Friedman's tears and the tale of his sexual abuse at the hands of his father, Arnold Friedman prompted only the smallest bit of sympathy from the parents whose own sons are in therapy, trying to deal with scars inflicted by the defendant. "I think he was crying for Jesse, who might have to spend 18 years in jail, not for our kids," said one man whose son was abused. "I bet you dollars to donuts that at age 40, he will sodomize kids again."

Of the hundreds of children that authorities believe the Friedmans abused over the years, it was these parents' sons who endured police lineups and testified before as many as three grand juries.

The parents had hoped the case their children testimony solidified would end with a stiffer sentence against Jesse Friedman; the recovery of pornographic photographs which the boys said the Friedmans made of them; and charges against two suspects still under investigation who have not been named. About nine families had said that, if necessary, they had been ready and willing to go to trial and have their children testify in an effort to ferret out the truth. Jesse Friedman's plea, which, some said they were "browbeaten" to accept, short-circuited that effort.

No photographs have been recovered, although the younger Friedman admitted when he pleaded guilty to using a child in a sexual performance that he had taken at least one. "If he was truly repentant and remorseful for what went on, where are those pictures demanded one mother.

Nineteen of the victims' relatives left silently after the sentencing through a back door, provided so they could dodge- the reporters and camera crews waiting in the lobby. They promised to return, again and again and again, for as long as it takes to resolve the case against Ross Goldstein, the other defendant charged in the case.