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)