Capturing the Friedmans: annotated Bibliography
"Capturing the Friedmans" is Andrew Jarecki's powerful and artistically executed film detailing a family's disintegration after two members are charged with sex crimes against children. Jarecki's documentary creatively interweaves recent interviews with home movies shot by the older Friedman brother as the events were unfolding. The effect is a complex story where truth appears ever elusive. Many viewers leave the theater believing that they have seen an objective documentary presented by a director who entrusted audiences to draw their own conclusions on Arnold Friedman's and Jesse Friedman's guilt. A careful review of the original evidence, however, shows that the case against the Friedmans was much stronger than the film revealed.
The following annotated bibliography provides important background about the Friedman case along with educational information about sex abuse. It also documents political usage of the film to help free convicted sex offenders who are currently incarcerated.
The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence is committed to supporting justice, protecting children, and promoting responsible research and information on child abuse. We believe that society benefits when the public has access to accurate information regarding child abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence. In that spirit, we are sharing this important bibliography with the public, and hope that audiences will withhold judgment regarding the Friedman case until they have had access to more complete information.
Background Information on the Friedman Case
Note: The following references are provided for educational and informational purposes only. The views expressed in a specific article are those of the author or authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Leadership Council.
Geraldo Rivera's interview with Jesse Friedman
The hour long show was devoted to exposing the extent of the problem of child porn in America. The Friedman case is used as a prime example. Geraldo Rivera interviews Jesse in prison. Jesse confessed to Geraldo that he and his father abused 17 children (he was convicted of only abusing 13) and stated that even more children witnessed the abuse.
Jesse described his own abuse by his father which started at around age 8 (his father would fondle him while reading him bedtime stories) and progressed to sodomy. Jesse told in explicit detail how he and his father abused the children during computer classes and Jesse helped "keep the children in line" during the classes. When asked why the children never told, Jesse replied: "For the same reason I never told." Jesse went on to reveal that he and his father threatened the children by telling them that they would "hunt down" their parents and burn their houses down if they talked. Several parents of the the victims are interviewed. They note that the Friedmans also threatened to send explicit sexual pictures of the children to area newspapers and television stations. Jesse explains that child porn was his father's "hobby" and admits that he posed for 100s of photographs and videos in which he sexually abused the children. Geraldo notes that Jesse told him the names of some of his father's friends with whom he traded child porn.
Jesse's attorney, Peter Panera, is interviewed. He tells how he and Jesse made a special trip to Wisconsin to visit Arnold Friedman in prison to convince him to reveal where he had hidden the photos and videos of the children. Arnold refused to reveal what he had done with them, despite the fact that it would have helped gain lenacy for his son. Jesse's mother Ms. Friedman also appears on the show.
Frances Galasso, the detective-sergeant who was in charge of the Friedman case, describes Jesse's lack of remorse for his victims and describes how he and his brother harassed some of the victims' parents at court proceedings. She says that Jesse told the grandfather of one victim: "Well maybe we are suffering now, but with what we've done to your children, they'll suffer for the rest of their lives."
The Secret Life of Arnold Friedman
In this lengthy investigative article, Newsday staff reporter Alvin Bessent details the case against the Friedmans, including Jesse's detailed disclosure of sexual abuse by his father:
Bessent also reports on the victims' fear of the Friedmans:
State of New York v. Arnold Friedman.
Judge Abbey L. Boklan approved Arnold Friedmans' request for the return of all property seized at the Friedman home with the exception of pornographic materials listed in this document. Materials include such items as: 5 pornographic movies, assorted order forms for pornography, assorted pornographic magazine cutouts, 2 partially nude photos of children, 3 sheets advertising homosexuality with boys, 6 photos of naked people, 3 battery operated sex aids, 1 hypodermic needle, 9 pornographic computer games (with descriptions), list of names and phone numbers of 9 victims, 2 registration sheets with names of victims.
The People of the State of New York , Respondent, v. Ross G., Appellant
The Supreme Court of New York responds affirmatively to an appeal by Ross Goldstein who asks the state to reduce his sentence to the terms recommended and agreed to by the prosecution. Although he was not mentioned in the film, Mr. Goldstein was a third defendant who was arrested along with Arnold and Jesse Friedman. According to this document, Goldstein, a former friend of Jesse's who was between 15 and 16 years old when he committed the crimes. He later became repulsed by the abuse, and six months before the Friedmans were arrested, Goldstein disassociated himself from Jesse Friedman and his activities. Goldstein, now age 19, confessed to the crimes and agreed to testify against both Arnold and Jesse Friedman in exchange for leniency.
Brother's Keeper: The Family Behind L.I.'s Notorious Sex Abuse Scandal
In an interview with the Press, retired Judge Abbey Boklan, expressed anger at the Capturing the Friedman filmmakers and stands by her theory that Jesse was guilty.
Archived news articles covering the Friedman case
Archived Newsday articles covering the Friedman case
Accuracy and Objectivity of the Film is Questioned
Abuse experts assail movie
Detective Stands by Friedman Probe
In an interview, Frances Galasso, the retired detective-sergeant who was in charge of the Friedman case, defends the integrity of the investigation. Galasso denied hypnosis was used and said detectives did not coerce statements from the victims.
Brother's Keeper: The Family Behind L.I.'s Notorious Sex Abuse Scandal
In an interview with the Press, retired Judge Abbey Boklan, expressed anger at the Capturing the Friedman filmmakers for taking quotes out of context and for being duped into being involved in a film.
Detective Galasso says she also felt duped. According to now-retired Detective Frances Galasso of Nassau County 's Sex Crimes Unit "just enough of the truth was left out [of the film] to establish reasonable doubt as to Jesse's guilt."
Film Revives Great Neck Controversy
Newsday staff reporter Victor Ramos covers the showing of the film "Capturing the Friedmans" to residents of Great Neck, New York -- the town where the Friedmans case unfolded. After showing the documentary, producer Andrew Jarecki offered the audience a chance to respond. According to this article, "The most intense exchanges were between Jarecki and some people in the film, who stepped out of the audience to stress their views or correct what they saw as distortions." For example, Judge Abbey Boklan, who presided over the case and was alarmed at the films and the public's second-guessing of the criminal prosecution, stated:
Arresting Images - Documentary Asks: Hysteria or Truth?
Washington Post reporter Desson Howe notes that "Capturing the Friedmans" "strongly suggests that law enforcement officials of Nassau County, Long Island, were overzealous in their investigation, indictment and imprisonment of computer teacher Arnold and his then 18-year-old son, Jesse."
He notes that a different perspective emerges from an interview with Detective Frances Galasso, who strongly rejected the idea that interviews with the children were designed to coax preconceived answers. She notes that the first detective sent out to interview one 10-year-old boy, was surprised when the boy --- upon meeting the detective -- immediately handed him a flier that advertised Elaine Friedman's in-home day-care center. Howe reports that:
"According to Galasso, the boy told the detective he wanted him to have the poster because "I don't want any more children to get touched.'' What that young man eventually revealed,' Galasso continued, `was a pretty complete account of how he was seduced and then raped by Arnold Friedman and then Jesse Friedman.' The 10-year-old's older brother, who also attended classes with Arnold Friedman, `told the same story, by the way,' Galasso said."
Detective Galasso explains the lack of medical evidence of abuse on the children noting that no medical evidence of abuse was found, because no physical evidence was sought. According to Galasso, "The procedures would have been too invasive and none of the parents wanted that." Galasso, who remains in contact with some of the victims' families, noted:
A Film's Fallout; Years after a notorious LI sex abuse case, debate rages
Newsday staff reporter Victor Ramos notes that the principle parties involved in the Friedman case including the detectives, the judge, the prosecutor and even Jesse Friedman's attorney at the time say Jarecki's re-examination of the case is not only incomplete but hopelessly biased.
Commentary: Interesting, not accurate
Newsday staff reporter Paul Vitello notes that "Capturing the Friedmans" raises the question whether America is in the midst of a hysterical overreaction to the perceived threat from pedophiles. He finds the film to be compelling, but cautions that "`Capturing the Friedmans' is a `documentary' only in the sense that real people appear in it and talk without scripts. There are too many omissions, however, for it to fairly answer any of the particular or general questions it purports to ask."
Hollywood Elsewhere: Return of Jarecki
Movie critic Jeffery Wells describes an encounter with Andrew Jarecki in which he was allowed to view some of the footage not included in the "Capturing the Friedmans", but which will be included in the upcoming DVD of the film. In a segment called "Anatomy of a Pedophile", Jarecki includes a letter written by Arnold Friedman. According to Wells, in the letter (read by Long Island attorney Peter Panaro) Arnold Friedman "is heard rationalizing the difference between a wounding predatory pedophile (which he wasn't, he claimed) and a caring and considerate pedophile (which he considered himself to be)." Wells writes that he asked Jarecki why he didn't include this "smoking gun" footage in the film, "especially as the film plants questions in the viewer's mind if Friedman (who committed suicide in prison in 1995) was quite the pernicious molester that the authorities made him out to be." According to Wells, "Jarecki answered he felt the film worked better as a Roshomon-like meditation on the case."
Beyond the Bogeyman - We need to develop a more mature perspective on the child molester
Butler contrasts a new book Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders which "details the tactics, psychology, and modus operandi" of predators, to "Capturing the Friedmans", a "film shot from the liberal, empathic viewpoint." Butler suggests that, "In his eagerness to make his viewers empathize with the Friedman's humanity, he stacked the deck to conceal significant evidence of their guilt."
"Capturing the Friedman's": Examining the Myths Behind the Film
This well researched and referenced analysis promotes public education about the myths surrounding child sexual abuse and illustrates how the film capitalizes on these myths to minimize and cast doubt on the sex abuse allegations against the Friedmans.
Documentary's Haunting Tale of Abuse
Newsday staff reporter Paul Vitello writes an open letter to the 13 boys who the Friedman's were charged with abusing:
Political Use of the Film in an Effort to Free or Exonerate Convicted Sex Offenders
What an Oscar Nod Means to Jesse Friedman
Zap2it.com, a website which provides information about what is happening in TV and Film, discusses Jesse Friedman's case with Andrew Jarecki, the producer of the Academy Award nominated film "Capturing the Friedmans." Jarecki is quoted as saying that he believes the attention from the Oscar nod could help Jesse win his motion to have his conviction overturned. The motion is currently pending in Nassau County Court.
Convicted Molester Wants To Clear Name - Cites evidence seen in film
Seeking to clear his name, on January 8, 2004 Jesse Friedman filed papers to vacate his 1988 sex abuse convictions citing evidence unearthed by the maker of the award-winning documentary film "Capturing the Friedmans." Jesse claims that the film shows that some of the boys who said they were molested did so after they were hypnotized and others did so after they were repeatedly questioned by police. Jesse charges the detectives who investigated the case with using "a compendium of suggestive and manipulative interview techniques proven to encourage false accusations from children," according to the court papers, filed in Nassau County Court in Mineola .
Friedman Says Film Shows his Innocence
According to reporter Frank Eltman,
Abuse Case Revisited, Cloudier Than Ever
Commenting on the release of the DVD version of "Capturing the Friedmans", New York Times reporter Peter Nichols notes:
Documentary's Haunting Tale of Abuse
Newsday staff reporter Paul Vitello writes:
Discussing "The Friedmans"
This website provides a transcript of an interview between commentator Anthony Kusich and Andrew Jarecki. Jarecki is quoted as saying that he is currently working on Jesse's Friedman's case: "He's trying to make a motion to get his conviction vacated, and I think I need to help him do it. I just think the system failed him horribly, and he needs another chance for an evaluation of the case."
A Film's Fallout; Years after a notorious LI sex abuse case, debate rages
A Long Island Family's Nightmare Struggle With Porn, Pedophilia, and Public Hysteria
This article was written by Debbie Nathan who befriended the Friedmans. She served as a consultant for Jarecki during production of "Capturing the Friedmans" and appears in the film as an expert on false accusations. Nathan sits on the board of the National Center for Reason and Justice an organization that helps people it believes were wrongly accused and convicted of sex offenses against children and adolescents (see next entry) .
NOTE: The Leadership Council has refuted the results of the Rind study in scientific journals. More information can be found by clicking here: The Leadership Council's response to the rind study.
National Center for Reason and Justice
Founded in April 2002, the NCRJ describes itself as "a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public about the plight of those who have been falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of crimes."
Jesse Friedman is listed on the NCRJ website as "a case of concern" where they believe that there may have been a miscarriage of justice ( http://www.ncrj.org/Other.html
Debbie Nathan, who was a consultant on the movie and also appears in it, is on the board of the National Center for Reason and Justice.
Other convicted pedophiles that the NCRJ is raising money in order to help free
On January 8, 2004, Jesse Friedman filed a motion to overturn his conviction based on "the 3-year investigation done by the filmmakers in the course of making Capturing the Friedmans." Jesse states:
Statement about the success of the NCRJ fundraiser
This is a page from Jesse Friedman's website which describes the NCRJ fund raiser, Jesse states:
According to Jesse:
The Friedmans' Victims and Their Families Speak Out
The Friedmans' victims speak out
Victims break their silence
Newsday staff reporter Victor Manuel Ramos interviews several of the victims who Arnold and Jesse Friedman plead guilty to abusing.
Two Friedman victims send message
Newsday staff reporter Paul Vitello quotes from an open letter to the Academy by two of Jesse Friedman's victims, and contrasts their views with those of Jarecki.
Victims Say Film on Molesters Distorts Facts
New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman notes that "Capturing The Friedmans" is being criticized by six of their former victims, who say the film omitted or distorted important information about their cases. "The six are suggesting that the director, Andrew Jarecki, created more ambiguity than actually existed about the case both to heighten the dramatic impact of the film and to elicit sympathy for the Friedmans."
Information about How Pedophiles Operate
Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders: Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children
World-renowned expert Dr.Anna Salter provides a psychological profile of serial sex offenders--how they think, how they deceive their victims, and how they elude the law.
From Booklist :
How Child Molesters Target Children
Misinformation Concerning Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Survivors
This book points out and corrects misinformation on sexual abuse and provides state-of-the-scientific information on such myths as "false memory syndrome," and the "lack of harm" to some sexually abused boys.
Information on some of the convicted pedophiles that the NCRJ is sponsoring
Baran received a fair trial
A major case the NCRJ is assisting with is that of Bernard "Bee" Baran. Baran was charged with rape and indecent assault and battery on six children while he was a child-care worker in a Pittsfield day care center. Simons, the judge who tried the case, objects to the portrayal of Baran as someone who was wrongfully convicted. Simons notes that a jury found Baran guilty after a 10-day trial, and appeals up to the Supreme Judicial Court were denied. Simons cites a Boston Globe article reporting that Baran "admitted guilt and agreed he needed help."
Judge Simons states, "The concern that young victims are prone to suggestibility pales in comparison to the suggestibility of grown and experienced newspapermen. A more serious injury is that distorted claims of injustice that seek freedom for Baran are not without consequences for society and this community, should they succeed."
The Legend of Robert Halsey
Another case the NCRJ is assisting with is that of Robert Halsey. Halsey was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing two boys on his school van route in Lanesboro , Mass. This scholarly article responds to a growing movement is trying to suggest that Halsey was unjustly convicted. Based on a comprehensive examination of the trial transcript, the article details the overwhelming evidence of guilt against Mr. Halsey. According to the article, the credulous acceptance of the "false conviction" legend about Halsey provides a case study in the techniques and tactics used to minimize and deny sexual abuse. Ross E. Cheit is associate professor of political science and public policy at Brown University and director of the Law and Public Policy Program at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions.
False-conviction chic in the Berkshires