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For Immediate Release

“I Was Never Raped, I was Never Sodomized, I was Never Molested,” Says Student Whose Grand Jury Testimony Led to Multiple Charges Against Jesse Friedman

Students and Parents Have Come Forward Saying Nothing Happened in Computer Classes at Center of Mass Sexual Abuse Case in Great Neck in 1980s

New Evidence Presented to Nassau DA Kathleen Rice and Prominent Advisors

(Nassau County, NY- June 21, 2012) A former computer student, whose allegations of rape and sexual abuse were part of hundreds of charges against Jesse Friedman, leading to his conviction and long imprisonment, has now declared to investigators that absolutely no sexual abuse of any kind happened to him or any other students he took computer classes with in the late 1980s in Great Neck, Long Island.

The new evidence and other evidence of Jesse’s innocence was presented to the Nassau County DA and a group of prominent advisors including the Innocence Project’s Barry Scheck.

Other students, who sat right alongside the complainants who made upwards of 300 allegations that they were publicly sodomized and forced to play naked games, have come forth and stated unequivocally that absolutely none of this went on. In one class alone, in which 96 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse, and performing sex acts with children, were made against Jesse Friedman and Ross Goldstein, three of the seven children, now adults, have come forth to say that absolutely nothing occurred in that class

Jesse Friedman, his father Arnold, and a friend, Ross Goldstein, were all forced to plead guilty to numerous unfounded charges. Jesse Friedman served 13 years in maximum-security prisons and is currently a level three-sex offender, a virtual life sentence. Since his parole in 2001, Friedman has been fighting for his exoneration

In a stunning decision by the by the Federal Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in 2010, justices declared “...that there is a reasonable likelihood that Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted.”

According to the complainant, whose Grand Jury testimony resulted in more than ten charges of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor, “I remember the cops coming to my house and the cops being aggressive and people wanting me to say what they wanted to hear. I’ll tell you, I never said I was sodomized. I was never raped or molested... if I said it, it was not because it happened, it was because someone else put those words in my mouth.”

Another student, who attended the same classes in which two complainants testified to having been repeatedly sodomized in front of the rest of the class, and yielded over 40 sodomy charges, stated, “I have a vague recollection of being interviewed at the time by someone who was trying to get me to say something that didn’t happen. I took years of classes with them. I always assumed that if something was going on in the classes, I would have had some sense of it, and I didn’t. People who were in class with me always felt that they weren’t allowed to say that nothing happened.”

Still another student stated, “I certainly remember the police visiting my home… and I can remember them being very intimidating, like to the point where one of the cops was sitting on my couch and his pant leg was up and I could see his gun. I was very insistent that nothing ever happened to me and that never seemed to be good enough as a response… Nothing happened to me and I saw none of that stuff… I remember the class as a thing that I enjoyed.”

According to the Second Circuit decision, new evidence in the case, brought to light by Andrew Jarecki’s landmark film Capturing the Friedmans and by Jesse’s legal team in the years since, shows that police and psychologists interviewing kids at the time used hypnosis and other “memory recovery techniques” that have since been shown to produce false memories and accusations. There was absolutely no physical or forensic evidence in the Friedman case -- solely the testimony of small children after these techniques had been employed. The Court suggested that allegations were elicited from children as young as eight years old by harsh interrogation methods and that Jesse’s guilty plea was the result of pressure by the judge, who told Jesse’s lawyer that she intended to sentence Jesse to life without parole.

The Federal Court asked Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice to re-examine Friedman’s case after it found a "reasonable likelihood that Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted." Rice impaneled a group of four experts to assist in the review, including Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck, appellate attorney Mark Pomerantz, criminal justice professor and victims’ rights advocate, Susan Herman, and former police chief Patrick Harnett. Some of the new information includes:

  • Hundreds of unrealistic charges were piled on in multiple indictments against Friedman to build pressure and coerce a guilty plea. Judge Abby Boklan threatened Friedman’s lawyer directly that she intended to impose the maximum sentence – effectively life without parole – if he refused to plead guilty and lost at trial (a tactic now well-established by courts to be “impermissibly coercive”).
  • The vast majority of the computer students interviewed by the police had no recollection of any abuse despite being visited by the police many times. The police had notes of these interviews, but never provided them to Friedman’s lawyer as they were required to do with this and other evidence of innocence under Brady v. Maryland.
  • Students who eventually provided testimony that they had been abused, had no recollection of such abuse until after they had been subjected to up to five kinds of manipulative and suggestive questioning by the police -- questioning methods now proven to produce false statements from children. Despite prosecutors’ contention that terrible abuses occurred in hundreds of computer classes over a period of years, no physical or forensic evidence in the case ever emerged. So this unreliable and unsupported testimony by small children was the only basis for the charges.
  • One of the computer students, who became a key witness in the case, admitted on film and again in a recorded interview that he had no memory of any abuse until after he was hypnotized, a technique proven to lead to false memories.
  • Police detectives admit to having provided the students with incentives to encourage them to provide testimony, including having pizza parties, and offering to “deputize” cooperative children.
  • One detective admitted to visiting a student 15 separate times in order to finally procure incriminating testimony despite the child’s consistent statement that he had not been abused.
  • A number of computer students admit to having provided false testimony in order to “end the questioning” and that they actually did not experience the abuse to which they had testified. Detectives, in a tape recorded interview, told one of the computer students who was adamantly insisting that he had not been abused, that he could become a homosexual if he did not admit to the abuse.

Former NYPD Homicide Detective Jay Salpeter who was instrumental in finding new evidence that led to the freedom of Marty Tankleff in 2007, and the West Memphis 3 this past year, has established a Confidential Information Hotline in the Jesse Friedman Case.

Those who may be able to shed new light on this case are urged to call investigators at 516-660-4385.