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Capturing The Friedmans 2003

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Hi. It's me.
Oh, we're not ready yet?
Hi.
It's me, Jesse.
Are we there?
Good. We're there.
Well, this afternoon,
after a very lousy sketch about yo-yoing,
I figure well, for lack of anything better to do,
we'll take it towards a more serious side right about now.
And we're going to conduct an interview with
Arnold Friedman, my father.
I still feel like I knew my father very well.
I don't think that just because there were things in his life
that were private and secret and shameful
that that means that the father who I knew
and the things I knew about him were in any way not real.
They're gonna put me in the movies
they're gonna make a big star out of me
we'll make a film about a man that's sad and ionely
and all I got to do is act naturally
well, I'll bet you I'm a-gonna be a big star
might win an oscar, you can't never tell
the movies gonna make me a big star
'cause I can play the part so well
well, I hope you come to see me in the movies
then I know that you will plainly see
the biggest fool that's ever hit the big time
and all I got to do is act naturally
Arnold liked pictures.
I mean, that's, let's face it.
He liked pictures.
Well, we're here.
This is it, the whole family assembled.
Everybody in great neck, new york.
We had three sons.
David, being the oldest
had a lot of responsibilify when he was young.
Seth was an outright rebel.
And somehow, Jesse was just like the
the one that keeps trying to catch up
and doesn't quite make it.
I have very good memories of the, of my, well,
I have very good memories of my childhood.
I had a great time growing up.
I had a great time because of my friends.
And my father was great.
I mean, he may not have been the best father,
but he went to columbia university.
And then when he graduated, he went to the catskills
to play in his band.
The jazzbo mambo
with a boogie beat
is the newest dance on 52nd street
the band was called Arnito Rey and his orchestra.
My father's name was Arnold Friedman.
This was in the late 40's and early '50s.
So he played latin music.
It was very big at the time,
and so he changed his name to Arnito Rey.
We'll do a jazzbo mambo 8 to the bar
I don't know.
My dad was a cool guy, you know?
He was a schoolteacher.
And I think that the other kids liked him, and he liked kids.
But he didn't like spending a lot of time with his wife,
so he would teach high school during the day
and then after school, he would come home and teach
piano lessons and later computer lessons in the house.
And that was, of course, more time he didn't have to spend
with his wife.
I'm not that anxious to talk about his father,
because, you know, we were divorced, and
but his father, he would,
I don't really want to talk about it.
In case anybody didn't know, I'm the father of this family.
I'm never in the movies.
Never see me in any of the pictures,
but I really am the father.
And we're all gathered together
while David is messing up the camera here.
Now he's taking a good movie and zooming in and out.
When you see me on this, you're gonna say
okay, shut it.
He died of a surprise heart attack about 5 years ago.
And it was very, very sad.
He was, you know,
selfless, altruistic.
But in the end, he wasn't together with your mom?
He wasn't together with my mother at the end.
And when did they make the decision not to be together?
Long before he died?
Couple years before his death.
There's a lot i,
well, whatever.
There's some things I don't want to talk about.
Well, this is private, so if you don't,
if you're not me,
then you really shouldn't be watching this,
because this is supposed to be a private situation
between me and me.
This is between me now and me in the future.
So turn it off.
Don't watch this.
This is private.
If you're the fucking, oh, god, the cops.
And if you're the fucking cops,
go fuck yourselves,
because you're full of shit.
Back in 1984, us customs had seized some child pornography,
addressed from the netherlands,
in the mail to Arnold Friedman.
Now, he never got that piece of mail,
but his name was forwarded on to us.
So what we would do then would be to initiate
a correspondence with Arnold in the hopes
that we can determine if he is in fact willing to violate
the statute again about mailing or receiving child pornography.
"Dear stan, the book is joe, 14, and his uncle.
I think I'd like you to send me something, sort of good faith,
and I will forward this rather precious book to you.
Thanks, Arnie."
See, it's very hard to believe that
this so-called "good marriage" was so disturbed.
He sent him these pictures, and he sent him a note
that I remember, because the lawyer got the note.
And then he wrote, "enjoy."
Since he had sent the magazine,
he was always asking for it back.
So I asked the prosecutors, "let's grant him his wish.
He wants his magazine back."
I dressed up as a mail carrier, knocked on his door,
asked him if he was Arnold Friedman.
He replied he was.
And I said, "I have a package for you.
Sign right here."
He did.
About an hour later, we went back.
We would give him some time with the magazine.
I'm dressed now.
I just put a blue suit jacket over the carrier's uniform.
And I told him, "I have a search warrant for child pornography."
He says, "there's nothin' like that here."
And I said, "you don't recognize me?"
I'd just been at his door an hour ago.
He goes, "no."
And I took off my jacket, and i said, "now do you recognize me?"
"Oh, yeah. Oh, okay. The magazine is upstairs."
So we went up to his bedroom.
In the top dresser door was the open magazine.
Well, he thought we would take the magazine and leave,
and I said, "no, we have a search warrant.
We're gonna search the whole house for child pornography."
And around that time his wife showed up.
I thought they were searching, like, for
marijuana or something.
I didn't know what they were searching for,
to tell you the truth.
And I thought it was a big mistake.
One of the first things we went to was his office.
And I remember just as I was about to pull out a drawer,
mr. Friedman came rushing in and said,
"wait. I'll get that for you."
And said, "here.
This is all that's there."
And it was one piece of mail from the netherlands,
but it was child pornography.
And he said, "that's it.
That's all there is."
And I said, "well, that's great, mr. Friedman,
but we're still gonna search."
And he goes, "I don't understand why you don't go
when I tell you that's all there is?"
And I said, "well, we don't believe you."
Well, it's not something he sort of left lying around
on the kitchen table.
He wasn't proud of it, and he kept it hidden.
He had his office downstairs.
It wasn't, like, right there.
You had to go downstairs
and around the corner to get to his office.
We used to have someone that cleaned.
He says, "don't let her clean in here.
It's okay. I don't want my things disturbed."
So all right.
I never went in there.
Then one of our inspectors moved the piano
that was in that office.
And that's where his stash of magazines were held,
behind the piano.
And this was Arnold's secret.
He liked to look at pictures of boys.
And it's not that he acted on these things.
He just wanted to look at these pictures and meditate or
and these are listings of the magazines
that were found behind the piano.
"Young boys & sodomy."
"Incest case histories."
Something called "chicken pickin's magazine."
And in addition to that, we found evidence
of a computer class being taught there by mr. Friedman.
And we did seize some list of names
that we thought could be students.
I remember walking in there saying,
"goddamn. We could have a problem here."
Just when you think everything is going to be dull,
something gets dropped on your lap, you know,
and it turns out to be something bigger than you ever thought.
What happened was one of the detectives
from the vice squad came in to see me.
And he had a list.
And it was at that point that we were able to learn
that these were computer classes that went on
literally every day of the week and saturday.
And we drew a big map of the whole village of great neck
sectioned it off, and started sending detectives out
to do interviews.
She set us up in teams,
male/female teams.
And we got a list of alleged victims.
Soon as we went into the house,
we were usually approached by the mothers.
And we explained why we're there, what we're doing there,
and we'd really like to talk to their children,
preferably alone.
The parents were becoming impatient.
They wanted something done immediately.
But you always want to be very careful about how you proceed,
because the one thing that you worry about
I know I worried about it all the time, is
just charging somebody with this kind of a crime
is enough to ruin their lives.
So you want to make sure that you have enough evidence
and that you're convinced that you're making a good charge.
And how much time was there between the time
the postal inspector searched the house
and the time that you went in for the second search?
Well, it would have been less than a month,
because we did that the day before thanksgiving.
A prominent middle-aged teacher
in a prosperous long island town
is charged with sodomizing young boys who were his students.
Police are charging that sexual abuse went on
behind the doors of 17 picadilly road in great neck.
We rang the doorbell.
As soon as he realized who it was, he wasn't gonna let us in.
So one of the detectives broke the door down.
And we went into the premises at that point.
Arnold was by himself.
His wife was out shopping.
I was out to the store to buy a thanksgiving turkey.
And I go up the front walk to the house,
and there're people all over the house.
And my husband is sitting, looking very sheepishly
in the dining room, handcuffed.
By this time, just about every news organization
you could name had arrived on the scene.
I went home for thanksgiving.
Got to the house, and there's cops and news trucks
all over the place.
And
I got worried, of course.
When David came to the house,
we were able to ascertain eventually
the type of business he was in.
And we heard that he was involved in children's
entertainment in the form of some sort of clown activities.
I was there when the clown came in.
He was ranting and raving.
We had words.
And I was going through the folders.
We told him to take a hike.
And he kept trying to come into the house,
and I kept telling him that he couldn't,
that he had to leave.
He wasn't allowed while we were searching.
And finally, he came in for the last time.
He bent down.
I really thought he had a weapon in that duffle bag.
Everybody kind of, you know, reached for a gun at one point.
What he came out with
was a pair of fruit of the loom underwear.
And he started prancing around, flailing his arms in the air,
saying, "look at me. I'm an asshole."
They're harassing my father for no reason at all.
If I had had some kind of Arabian sand scarf
I would have wrapped that around my face
and been Lawrence of Arabia.
Maybe that would have been better.
But I took out underwear, and I put it on my head
because I didn't want to be on camera.
The first arrested was Arnold Friedman,
a retired schoolteacher who was charged with sodomizing boys
aged 8 to 11.
The charges are that, while running a computer school,
Arnold Friedman and his son engaged in various forms
of sexual abuse against minor children.
Jesse pulls up coming home from school.
His friends dump him out of the car.
David sort of grabbed me, and we were sitting
a couple of houses down, sort of on the sidewalk.
And he was saying something to me.
And then one of the tv cameras came over,
so we kind of ran to the backyard.
And we went behind the house.
And we were in the backyard of our house.
And the cops came back, and they said, "what's going on here?"
And I said, "don't worry about it. It's just me and Jesse."
And they said, "well, we want Jesse.
We need Jesse in the house now."
Of course, we thought, you know,
we didn't know why that was.
As we conducted more interviews of the children,
Jesse's name started to pop up.
And Jesse was there.
What did Jesse do?
And then eventually we were able to ascertain
that Jesse's role was not one of, you know, helping his dad
conduct the computer class,
but basically abusing the children himself.
We didn't have children telling us
that Arnold had slapped them around.
But quite a number of the kids reported incidents
of being slapped and having their hair pulled
or their arms twisted by Jesse.
He was, by far, the more violent one.
All these policemen said that Jesse
was some kind of aggressor.
That even his father was cowering,
and Jesse was this sexual, molesting tyrant.
I challenge anyone to find anyone
who Jesse had even teased as a child or called a name.
Jesse was not an angry person.
He was not an upset person.
So we ended up spending a lot of time together.
I was over his house 3 days a week, 4 days a week.
And as far as I know him, none of this ever happened,
not on my watch.
Eighteen-year-old Jesse Friedman also stands accused
of sex abuse and using a child in a sexual performance.
The only thought that I just kept having the whole night
was, "we're gonna get bailed out and then we'll go home
and we'll figure out what's going on,
and the lawyers will take care of this,
and they'll straighten this out."
Because it was still just a matter of,
"this is a big misunderstanding."
But when the bail was set at a million dollars,
instead of going out with mom and David
like we were supposed to, we went back the other way.
And that was the moment when
there was this whole new sense that the problem was
much worse than i originally thought.
The investigation didn't end at that point.
That really was the arrest and the search of the house.
And then we went on, because we had literally, at that point
dozens more interviews to do.
Somewhere along the way, I think it was the nassau county cops,
they showed me this magazine, and they said,
"you see? Look at this magazine."
And they showed me the magazine.
They were embarrassed to show it to me
because of what the pictures were.
And you know, I didn't see it.
My eyes were in the right direction,
but my brain saw nothing.
Because when it was all over,
the lawyer showed me the magazine, and then I saw it.
For the first time, I really saw it.
I couldn't believe what I saw.
I mean, I had no concept that this
thing even exists in the world,
that this magazine would even be in the world.
I mean, we had a middle-class home, educated.
I had a good family, right?
Where did this come from?
Mr. And mrs. Friedman's house
on this most beautiful thanksgiving dinner.
For my daughter, for my son-in-law,
and for my 3 grandsons.
I'm thankful that both my brothers are home, and
I'm most thankful
to my husband, to Arnie.
Anything you want to say, mr. Friedman?
Are you guilty?
Did you do all they say you did?
No comment.
I was the first to visit my brother in prison.
And that was a moment in my life I'll never forget.
He came into the room.
I was sitting at this table, a lot of tables,
and they were crowded.
Just awful surroundings.
And he didn't have his glasses on.
Without his glasses, he was blind as a bat.
They'd taken them off and broken them, stepped on them.
He had a smell of urine.
They were throwing urine at him.
They were threatening to throw him down the stairs.
They knew what he was in there for.
It was all over the media.
And he was half-blind and hadn't shaved in two days
and shivering and cold and scared out of his wits.
The first words out of his mouth were,
"howie, they're gonna kill me. Get me out of here."
The people versus Arnold Friedman and Jesse Friedman.
Indictment 67430.
Step up, please.
So began the very first time cameras were permitted
in a nassau county courtroom.
Fifty-six-year-old Arnold Friedman
and his 18-year-old son Jesse
heard the court clerk read off a 91-count indictment
charging them with sodomy and sexual abuse.
Arnold Friedman, how do you plead to this indictment?
Guilty or not guilty?
Not guilty.
And Jesse Friedman, how do you plead to this indictment?
Not guilty.
My brother and Jesse kept saying they're innocent.
"This is trumped up charges."
And they got a mcmartin's, you know?
They somehow got one kid to,
they got the police to be able to convince the kids,
"well, all of your friends said something happened.
Didn't something happen?
Something must have happened," et cetera, et cetera.
And they were convinced.
They kept saying they were innocent.
And I just kept thinking,
"I have to believe them."
It's very hard for people to accept him as a pedophile.
Arnold Friedman was an award-winning teacher.
All over the house were plaques
and newspaper articles written about him.
He had been given an award, "computer teacher of the year."
He also taught piano.
David plays beautifully.
And his father taught him how to play the piano.
It was when he died that I realized
how much of an impact he had on my life.
Take a bow.
He was very supportive of my magic when I was a kid.
When I was about 6, my father took me to a magic show.
And it's probably my earliest memory.
You know when your son goes to college and you say,
"go to college," and "what are you going to be?
"Be a doctor. Be a lawyer."
I tried to make him into a doctor or a lawyer.
You know, my mom would always say, you know,
"get a job. Get a job."
But my dad would say to me, "you know, David,
I can't tell you what to do, because you know what I did
when I got out of college."
He blew off his chemical engineering degree,
which he could have worked for an oil company
and made tons of money.
Instead, he played in the mountains,
which is a total blow-off, follow your dream,
artistic thing.
And I totally love him for that.
Trust your children to somebody who was a schoolteacher
for over 20, 30 years, a member of your community.
All you heard were accolades about this person,
and now all of a sudden, he's a monster.
And things that were being said,
you know, upset the community,
because you don't expect that here.
Great neck is a peninsula.
It's a very insulated community.
This was a certain kind of person that lived in great neck.
It's on the north shore of long island,
which is usually a predominately wealthy area.
These are wealthy, professional people
that have garnered a great deal of income in their lives,
and they live accordingly.
Nice community.
Tight.
Affluent.
Well-kept homes.
They get dressed up to go shopping.
They want to be sure they get seen by
the people they want to see,
and cars are important,
clothes are important.
There's a lot of competition in great neck.
Everybody's kid's a genius and the best,
and everybody's the best in this and that,
and you just want your kid to be happy
and to get an array of experiences.
And this computer class was one of those experiences.
You thought you were doing right.
Most of the children started out explaining
how mr. Friedman would try to test them, I think,
in my opinion, as to whether they'd be receptive
to some of his advances.
There'd be certain showings on the computer
during computer class of certain material
that was inappropriate for children.
If you were going to be the first one abused
on a particular day,
he would pull up a chair and sit next to you.
Maybe it would start with his arm around your shoulder
or on your leg and gradually move it up,
touching private parts.
And then over the course of time we developed a situation
where we found out that there was not only sexual touching
of the genitals, but there were acts of sodomy,
oral and anal sodomy,
that took place during the course of the class.
So were the kids abused in the computer room
in view of everyone else?
From what I saw in my sessions,
none were raped out on the floor.
The kids were raped in Jesse's room or the bathroom.
Just to change the subject for a second,
there were these sexual computer games
that were discussed during the course of the case.
We'd basically do the games where
there would be naked girls and everything
in the computer class.
But I remember one time i slipped one of the games out,
and I brought it home and everything,
and I copied it, and Arnold found out.
Because of that, I was raped
by him and Jesse at the same time, as punishment to that.
I never did it again.
He made me format it. I formatted it.
I had to bring my computer in and show him
that I hadn't brought it home.
So he was absolutely positive, 100%, that it was not
touched at all in any way, form, shape whatsoever.
And how did he know that you brought it home?
He accounted for all the disks that were there.
And since he flipped through, he's like,
"who the fuck took this? Tell me now, or I'm gonna kill you all!"
And he had a knife, and he was waving a knife around.
I was like, "I did it!"
My general recollection of the classes
is basically a positive one, is a pleasant one.
The types of behaviors which were described,
which were, well, just downright satanic in nature.
I mean, they make him sound like some kind of brutal sadist,
whereas, you know, I had just always thought of him
as being kind of a nebbish.
I think, as someone who took the classes,
it was just hard to picture even that going on,
because I did have a good experience.
And I didn't, you know, see anything, you know,
remotely like,
you know, like child molestation
or child abuse or any child anything going on.
What took place in Arnold's classes
was pretty much just straight computer lessons.
I mean, as ordinary and as boring
as you could possibly imagine it.
It was just generally a free-for-all.
Everybody could see what was going on,
and very often they would participate
in these sort of mass games in the classroom.
There was a game there that was called "leapfrog."
And this one really got to me.
They would play leapfrog in the class.
They'd actually have their clothes off.
And we associate leapfrog like you do when you were a kid,
one guy jumping over another guy, but the fact is
it means everybody's butt's up in the air, so to speak.
The very nature of these charges is so absurd.
It seems almost like some kind of grotesque fantasy.
Yeah. Leapfrog.
I remember about that.
It's kind of like twister, where we would have to sit down.
Our asses would be in the air.
Arnold and Jesse would leap from one person to another,
sticking their dick each in our ass.
But then I was confused, because you said that
no kids were raped in the computer room.
The leapfrog game, which was not molestation,
was a leapfrog game, was not considered molestation,
was done outside.
But that was a group game.
The actual molestation, one-on-one contact,
happened in the bathroom.
The game happened out on the floor.
One of the things, you sit down there,
and I know I,you know, think about this, and you know,
"how could this go on in this home for so long
and not be, you know, come out?"
But, you know, that wasn't my province.
That wasn't what I had to decide or the judge had to decide.
You know, that's up to someone else to decide that.
But if I recall, you know, the children were
pretty vivid in their recollections
as to what Arnold and/or Jesse did to them.
And judge Boklan, she's you know,
a pretty strong-willed judge.
And she's pretty unmovable when she makes her decision.
There was never a doubt in my mind as to their guilt.
And remember, I'd been around for a while.
This wasn't, you know, the first sex case that I had ever seen.
In fact, my previous law secretary used to tease me
that we were the pervert part.
And having been, you know, head of the sex crimes unit myself,
where, you know, I had young boys who were sodomized,
in fact, one who killed himself
you know, after the sentence of the abuser.
I mean, some horrible experiences.
So for me to be so outraged,
I mean, this was really very, very bad
what was going on there.
It was like someone's worst nightmare.
Who would even think of doing these things?
And to do them in a group and with so many witnesses.
The scenario, as posted by the media and the police
was so incredibly way out,
it was hard for me to believe that it was true.
We now welcome, also in los angeles, debbie nathan.
Debbie is an investigative freelance journalist,
who has been covering the mcmartin and other
abuse trials around the country.
All these parents are bizarro, huh?
They're all whacked?
Well, it's not really fair, I don't think
to deal simply with these parents
or with this particular case.
You have to understand that all over the country
there is a hysteria.
And I don't think that it's a question
with most of these kids of lying.
I think that they have been brainwashed, if you will.
I was one of the first writers for the mass media
to look at those cases critically and question them.
So as a result of that, having done a lot of that work,
I got a lot of letters from people.
And my father wrote to debbie and said, I don't know,
said, "help me."
And she has been the only person outside the family
that said, "I believe you."
In the Friedman case,
the basic charges were completely implausible.
First of all, you'd have to believe that blood
is coming out of these children's orifices,
that they're screaming,
that they're crying,
that their clothes are soiled from semen and from blood.
And yet their parents show up.
Sometimes they show up unannounced.
Everything looks fine.
Was there any physical evidence in the case that was relevant?
Or it was the case really strictly based on
the statements of the kids?
It was more testimony.
There was a dearth of physical evidence.
I don't even recall whether there was
any physical evidence that would have indicated
one way or another that these events took place.
I don't think that they're sitting around with any kind
of diabolical or conspiratorial agenda
to go out and falsely accuse Arnold Friedman
or railroad Jesse Friedman.
But nobody's critiquing them.
Nobody's telling them that there's a right way
and a wrong way to do this.
Nobody's saying that we've got a problem in this culture
with hysteria around this issue.
And so they're really free to let their fantasies fly.
I think the most overwhelming thing was
the enormous amount of child pornography.
You would just have to walk into the living room,
and it'd be piled around the piano.
There were literally foot-high stacks of pornography,
in plain view, all around the house.
But photos taken during the search
showed nothing of the kind.
But as far as the families were concerned, I don't want to
use the word that they were competitive with each other.
I don't know if it's to that extent.
You know, sometimes it'd be some idle conversation about,
you know, another boy, you know, "he was sodomized 5 times,
but my son was sodomized 6 times," you know,
as if that meant something in the overall scheme of things.
There's a whole community atmosphere that gets created
in a mass-abuse case like this,
where the families are talking to each other,
they're going to community meetings,
or they're calling on the phone all the time.
They're seeing each other in group therapy.
And there is definitely an element when a community
defines itself as a victimized community,
that if you're not victimized
you don't fit into that community.
The families that had their child molested
or allegedly molested became very involved
and took a greater part of their life at that point.
I appreciated their call in the beginning
telling me what happened.
And then when I told them that we looked into it
and my wife and I both felt that nothing happened to our son,
it got to be a little pushy situation where they told us
that we were in denial, and it absolutely happened to our son.
You fucking bitch!
I'm gonna kill you!
When Jesse gets out of jail, he's a dead motherfucker.
When Arnold gets out of jail, he's a dead motherfucker.
Fuck you! I'll fuck your whole family!
Is there any one word or phrase that you could use
to describe that experience overall?
Chaos. Hysteria.
It was really crazy.
Am I dreaming?
Is this a nightmare?
This can't be happening to my family.
My brother?
And a day doesn't go by that I don't think of it.
It destroyed my family.
It tore us apart.
I don't know.
I can't say too much about it.
We were a family.
Mommy believes you did it
and she believes you should go to jail,
and she believes that she deserves everything
that's left and you shouldn't have any part of it.
You have to hire another lawyer?
All this woman does is hire lawyers.
I honestly have to tell you, anything that she decides
I can't trust.
She runs around, "Arnie, they don't trust me."
Well, we don't trust her.
We lived with her for 3, for 2 months while you were in jail,
and we learned not to trust her.
David had just gotten a video camera when this case broke,
and so he just started recording the family falling apart.
And mommy believes them, and I don't.
I tell them to get lost,
and mommy says, "you're right."
And "I've lived with him for all my life."
And "look at all these horrible things he's done for me
over 30 years," which amounts to nothing,
except this.
At some point, David making the videotapes
kind of springboarded to my thoughts about audiotape.
And I began to make audio recordings
of these family arguments.
Don't scream.
The family was screaming at each other.
And everyone wanted me to say, "he didn't do it."
Well, I wouldn't do that.
I said, "I don't know."
They wanted me just to lie, you know,
and say, "he didn't do it," whether I believed it or not.
And I was so angry at Arnold and what he'd done
that I wouldn't do it, and i said, "well, I don't know."
And I wanted just to tell the truth.
That is the truth. I didn't know.
My mother abandoned him, pretty much,
wouldn't talk to him, fought with him constantly,
made him sleep on the sofa.
And after 33 years of marriage, when your wife,
when you've been accused of a crime you didn't commit,
you spend 6 weeks in jail for it,
you're trying to build a defense,
and your wife leaves you, essentially,
my father fell apart.
You yelled and screamed about what, that you ruined her life.
She's brainwashed you. You didn't do anything.
The police have done it to you.
It's not your fault.
The police are railroading you.
But it's not your fault.
Mommy doesn't believe you.
The police picked on you,
and that's who they're going after.
It's not because you deserved it.
You're taking the blame, and you don't deserve the blame.
She's brainwashing you into thinking that it's your fault,
and it's not your fault.
She thinks he did it.
And if he did it, then she thinks
he's going to be convicted of it.
And if he's convicted of it, he's going to go away.
Yeah, but if, let's say he goes away for 10 years.
He's still gonna come out.
No, I'm talking about 50 years. I'm talking about 100 years.
She doesn't think he's getting 50 years.
I don't think she thinks that he's going to get 50 years.
Ok, so what is he gonna get? Twenty years?
That's 50 years.
What's the difference, well,
if he goes to a state institution on state charges,
you know he's not coming back.
In this case, there was consultations
between both sides, the district attorney's office,
the families, the defense attorneys,
as to what to do with Arnold Friedman.
We were trying to maintain a sense of normalcy
in terms of having dinner and paying the bills,
but it was almost surreal.
I mean, I don't think any of us had any notion
of what was going on or what we were doing
or where any of this was leading.
Sir, would you like to comment on the situation?
Yes, I think this is a kitchen.
I thought it was only going to last a year
and that we would look back and laugh about how
crazy we were and how we didn't know what we were doing
and just sort of laugh.
What do you want? My nose? My teeth?
Wait a minute. There it is.
- There's your nose. - Oh that's great.
I feel like I'm being dissected here.
And here's mommy and daddy
in a rare moment of affection.
What's the matter?
- Why? - Why?
Why not?
That's not all.
You've gotten other things.
Lately but not all.
You're the one
who's stolen my heart, dear
I think I was the first woman that he ever really dated.
And he was very reluctant to get married.
I sort of said, "we've got to do this," you know.
I could be very
so he says, "well, all right."
Big mistake.
We were delighted.
She was effervescent, pretty.
They seemed to be very much in love.
They seemed to be very compatible.
It had been a long time in coming.
My mother, "you're my oldest!
Get married! I want a grandchild," you know.
My mother is sexually ignorant.
As far as I'm concerned, she had sex, I mean everyone thinks
their parents only had sex 3 times,
you know for each of their siblings.
But with my mother, I think it was true.
And it was like, you know, you read in a book
how do you have sex, and you start here,
and then you do step 1, step 2, step 3.
And that's somewhat like what sex was like with Arnold,
because I used to say to him,
"it's called foreplay.
It's supposed to be play.
It's supposed to be fun."
And he treated it like work.
Like this is what you're supposed to do when you do it,
like washing the dishes.
If he was so much in the closet and not living with her
and not attracted, where was she for 30 years?
Why didn't she say, "honey, you're not having sex with me.
I think I want a divorce."
Where was she?
I don't think that's the case.
Either they're both crazy,
which is a possibility,
or
or he was perfectly normal,
based according to, you know, by her standards.
You're the one for me
it was a difficult marriage because of Elaine.
She had her problems, and it took a monumental amount
of patience and love and caring to handle it.
It wasn't easy for him.
It wasn't easy for the kids.
But they were able to live with it.
She was the best mother she knew how.
She loved her kids, and she loved her husband.
She wasn't the warmest,
most outgoing human being in the world.
When I had the first child, I was just ecstatic,
but I didn't know how to do it.
And I wasn't the most
well-balanced person myself.
You know, we all have hang-ups, and
that's my hang-up.
Good things can never happen to me, only bad.
That's all the snapshots.
I know.
This whole thing is all the snapshots.
Did they go and they looked through each one?
They must have.
This is ancient film.
Holy shit.
- Dad, what is it? - Oh, my god, it's amazing.
How did you get this? This is great.
- This is my dad's. - Who took it?
My father.
Dad, what's that a film of?
This is a film of my sister.
I had a sister.
She died a year before I was born.
My brother knew her when he was young, of course.
And she died of blood poisoning.
It was a horrible, terrible, sudden death.
And it destroyed the family.
Arnold's parents divorced.
So Arnold's mother had these two boys,
and they were really on welfare. I don't know.
They lived in a basement apartment.
Evidently, there was one bedroom,
and the boys slept in the bedroom with the mother.
We shared, all 3 of us, not in the same bed,
but we all shared the same room, big rooms.
And rather than put a, apparently
the living room was the living room,
and then there was the kitchen,
so we put all the beds in the one room.
And that she dated a lot of men and would bring the men
into the apartment, and they would have sex in the bed
while Arnold was there listening.
And Arnold said that, because he saw his mother
in bed with a man, that when he was adolescent,
he was experimenting, as all children do,
and he had sex with his brother in bed or something like that.
And to me,
that's not what all children do.
Arnold sent me this right around when he started writing me,
and it's called "my story," and it was written in 1988.
And I think it was his attempt to talk about the case
but also talk about the case in the context of his life.
And it starts out, it says,
"this story goes back 50 years to when I was a child."
He says, "when I reached adolescence
I sought out partners for my emerging sexuality.
My first partner, when I was 13, was my 8-year-old brother.
I had overt sexual relations with him
over a period of a few years."
I know that my brother has said that he messed around with me
when I was a kid.
And I don't remember any of it.
I don't remember anything.
I have nothing up here
that has me yelling or screaming or crying
or trying to get away or unhappy or i
there's nothing there that.
Maybe someday a door will open,
but it better hurry up, because I'm 65.
And at this point in time, I could care less.
Then he goes on and says, "my next partners were boys
my own age, all of which sexual relations,
probably being within norms for my age.
However, the emotional impact of these relations
was very pronounced and lasted through my adult life.
A more normal situation, as probably happened
with my partners, would have been to outgrow
and forget these episodes.
However, I literally fell in love with these boys,
and the relations were far more significant to me
than they were to my partners."
And then he told me that when he got to be an older teenager,
like maybe in his late teens, he started worrying
that he was still attracted to kids that were the same age
as his brother had been when Arnold was 13,
and that really started bothering him.
And then after he had his own children, he was worried.
He started worrying that maybe he would molest
his own children.
And at that point, he went to therapy,
and the therapist told him, "no, don't worry.
You've got everything under control."
The jazzbo mambo with the boogie beat
is the newest dance on 52nd street
all the cats come running from both near and far
to do the jazzbo mambo 8 to the bar
come on, light fingers!
Light fingers, come on!
Jazzbo mambo
jazzbo mambo
jazzbo mambo, 8 to the bar
you could see that this wasn't exactly
fred macmurray and "my three sons," right?
It always struck us as being
a very dysfunctional family, obviously.
And we'd have to,
you would have to wonder, wouldn't you,
what kind of a family situation you would have
that could produce this kind of crime.
What might it be like to grow up in a household like this?
I don't know. I can't even imagine.
Today is september 14, 1975.
We just concluded a tour of jungle safari.
Jungle habitat.
Jungle habitat in west milford, new jersey.
Here are my 3 brothers.
Two brothers, you dummy.
All right, there are 3 children.
What happened was the 3 sons were like a gang.
Like, "this is our gang
and mom."
"She's not part of our gang."
And we have, of course,
a pterodactyl.
A jewish pterodactyl.
Shmuck, shmuck, schmuck.
The 4 of us got along so well.
We had a very similar kind of sense of humor.
You know, one guy would say something, and then it would,
then the next person would add to the joke.
And my mother, who has no sense of humor,
and she just didn't get that part of us.
And she resented that.
When this whole thing blew apart, the men got together,
and Arnold confided in them.
And me?
And I was a loyal wife.
People told me, "oh, why don't you leave him?
He's a horrible person.
Just walk out and leave him."
And I didn't.
I went all over town.
I raised money for bail.
I called every relative I knew.
I begged.
And I did all this for him, right?
He was my husband. I loved him.
And no one said, "what do you want?" to me.
Ok.
Ok, I think we can eat now.
So you're saying what we have is
the people who we thought would testify
and say that nothing happened.
And we are afraid to put them on the witness stand,
even though we know that nothing happened.
We think they will say something happened.
The Friedmans suggested that we speak to various people
who may have been present at the time.
And some of those people weren't alleged victims at all.
And that the hope was that one or more of these people
would say, "this is just not true."
But that just didn't happen.
As far as I'm concerned he's being, he's
so then nothing happened.
We begged him to tell us that something happened,
to explain how this whole mess could have happened.
That's the only way to explain how it could have happened
other then the fact that the police are out of their minds.
We begged him. He told us nothing happened.
That's good enough for me. Nothing happened.
If my father had the ability to confess to me,
yeah, he had done something one time,
and that's how this whole crazy mess got started,
it would make a lot more sense.
Not that I wanted that to be the case, but
you have to find a way to explain the unexplainable.
Oh, my gosh.
Oh, look at that.
Happy birthday to you
happy birthday to you
is that a real ice cream?
That's what's so odd about it.
They had this idealized image
of this father as being this saint-like person
this santa claus, messiah, you know.
And professionals in the field say that
oh, they have this idea that children identify
with the abusive parent.
When I was about a year or two, my parents separated.
And what did I do?
"My father is wonderful.
My mother is terrible."
The truth is my father was a rat
just like David's father.
My father walked out.
This is not wonderful.
This is being a rat.
My mother was a nag.
Well, I mean, this is true
but look, she stayed with me, she took care of me.
So people's visions are distorted.
I never felt angry at my dad.
My dad had nothing to do with this.
Someone knocks on the door
and accuses you for a crime you didn't commit
you gotta attack
attack your attackers and do what you can.
And that's all it was.
It had nothing to do with
there was nothing else that was involved at all.
We were talking about honoring and respecting.
Yeah, but, yeah, talk about honor and
do you honor and respect your husband?
That's why I don't talk to you.
I said I did honor and respect my husband.
Oh, okay.
But you don't like that answer.
No I don't. I don't believe it, no.
Ask your father.
Do I honor and respect you?
Do you object to my handling
do you have any objection in my relationship with you?
Do you like it when she calls you slime?
She did.
Did you like it when she did?
Ok.
Did you like it when
the other cases that I've written about
those families have been much stronger.
First of all, they've started from
a monolithic feeling of innocence
which didn't exist in this family
because of Arnold's pedophilia.
And they just buckled down
and everybody gets behind the defendant
the accused family member.
People quit their jobs.
And, you know
people were all sitting around the kitchen table
for the next 3 years with staplers and xerox machines
and they're working on the defense.
And then when the defendant is convicted
they're working on the appeal
and all family conflict is submerged.
Why don't you try once to be supportive of me?
Well, I'll tell you why.
Because we all started at the beginning of this thing
and i
well let's start from right now.
Ok, let's start from right now.
All right, let's start from right now.
We'll all start brand new.
We have a decision making process on the table.
Great.
All the past mistakes, they were mistakes.
We're not gonna hold them against anyone.
Great, great.
Now we're starting afresh.
Stop. Lower your voice, and talk nicely to your sons.
Alright, now we're gonna do it, starting now.
Seth, why don't you call me?
Do I bawl you out?
Seth is
...against me
and she can't hold it against me.
Well, now it's time to call it
'cause mommy's sad and stuff.
I think there was a recognition
that Arnold's case was becoming increasingly hopeless
because of the child pornography problem
because of other people coming out of the woodwork.
So the strategy evolved to
"what can we do to save Jesse?"
Jesse's lawyer very eloquently said to us
"if there's a rowboat and it's sinking
and the rowboat is tied to a rock
you have to disconnect the rowboat from the rock
and save the rowboat
even though the rock is sinking"
meaning you had to separate Arnold from Jesse.
And Arnold was going to plead
and Jesse would in some way benefit.
I was sitting there potentially going to trial
with no pornographic magazines admitted into evidence
without an adult pedophile as a co-defendant
and I understood that sort of reasoning
but it makes no sense if my father pleads guilty
and then I go to trial and say, "I didn't do it"
when all the jurors have already read in the newspaper
that my father plead guilty.
And I did not want my father to plead guilty.
I arranged for mr. Friedman and his family
to get a jury room where they could sit
and they could discuss these plea options.
And while I didn't go inside the room
except to knock on the door and say where we're at
in terms of what mr. Friedman wanted to do
there was a lot of yelling and crying
and screaming going on, coming out of that room.
God damn it!
When I screamed at Arnold, I screamed
"you must do it because it'll help Jesse.
Do it for Jesse."
And my brothers were just furious at this notion
that my father would go to court and plead guilty.
And at one point in all of the chaos
my father just started screaming.
And there's uncontrollable tears
and he picked up a chair.
I remember he threw a chair.
He was just screaming about how he wasn't gonna plead guilty.
He didn't do anything, he's not gonna plead guilty.
And he was furious at my mother
and he was just freaking out.
And I remember very clearly
sitting down with my father in the corner.
My mother's over there, brothers are over here.
I'm talking to my father privately
and he asked me what he should do.
And I could have said to my father
"I want you just to walk out of here
and go to trial and not plead guilty."
Instead, I remember very clearly saying to him
I wanted him to make the decision.
And I remember feeling like a really young kid.
Kind of looking up to my dad and saying
"dad, i," you know "I want you to be my daddy."
And I would have been really, really proud of him
if he had just stood up and said
"Elaine, I'm not pleading guilty.
We're going to trial."
But that's not what happened.
Former new york city schoolteacher Arnold Friedman
had nothing to say when he left
the nassau county courthouse in mineola
but inside he pleaded guilty to more then 40 counts of sodomy
sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Attempted sexual abuse in the first degree
an "e" felony, two counts
and endangering the welfare of a child
a class "a" misdemeanor, one count
in full satisfaction of this indictment?
Yes.
My mother manipulated him.
My mother is crazy
and my mother has control over my father.
Some relationships have that
where the woman controls the man.
It's called being pussy whipped.
My father and my mother
are not the only two people in the world
who have that relationship.
My father and mother had that relationship.
My mother and the lawyers said, "take the plea."
They took the plea.
I sat there in disbelief.
Is this my brother?
My brother?
This isn't my brother, he's not a monster.
He's a good loving brother
and husband, and son, and citizen, and teacher
and this isn't happening.
This is a mistake.
Something as horrendous as child molestation
you have to live with yourself.
If you didn't do it, you don't plead guilty.
I never understood it.
We have Elaine.
- Hi. - We have Teddy, Arnie.
Number 4753206.
Don't. Please don't film me.
David, I told you I don't want to be on tape.
Why are you so
when we stop talking to her
she doesn't want
she doesn't want any record, any record at all
as if they were
can you believe these kids,
that they have to persecute me?
David, if your mother doesn't want to be filmed
don't film her.
- Ok. - Come on.
When it was all over, they said it was all my fault
because I wanted them to take a plea and
it had been arranged before.
Arnold agreed to take a plea
but they were very hurt.
I'm still here.
Yeah.
I may not be here very much longer
but I'm still here.
That's disturbed.
The sentence: 10 to 30 years.
The crime: Sodomizing young boys.
Defendant Arnold Friedman had pleaded guilty
to sexually abusing more than a dozen youngsters,
but this does not end the Friedman case.
There are still numerous sodomy and sex abuse charges
pending against Arnold's son, Jesse Friedman.
I mean we could try this case in the media.
Who's gonna, who's gonna buy that I sodomized boys?
Yeah, I agree with you. I agree with you.
No, I really
well, I don't think we have to try
well, all I want to do
we didn't make a deal with Arnold Friedman
to spare his son.
So his son is facing a multiple count indictment
he's facing a considerable amount of jail time
and now he's confronted with a situation
where long island knows
that his father admitted his guilt
and there's a reasonable human expectation
of some people that, you know
where there's smoke, there's fire.
And if he did it, maybe his son did it.
We know he was in the same class
and he was helping his father.
So I think that was a difficult thing
for Jesse to have to overcome.
I always believed Jesse.
How could this possibly go on for 4 years
children repeatedly sodomized and sexually abused
with brutality if you believe the police.
And then their parents come to pick them up
right after computer class and not one kid is crying
not one kid tells his mother or father
what happened in class
not one kid says anything?
I find that so incredible
that Jesse's story that nothing happened
to me was more believable than the police version
of these horrific acts.
Jesse and I went
we flew in august of 1988
all the way to madison, wisconsin
where we rented a car and drove 90 miles
to some town that I couldn't possibly give you the name of
to a federal prison.
Who knew more about this case then Arnold Friedman?
He knew more about it than Jesse.
I had to wait 40 minutes
because Arnie was either playing tennis or golf
I don't remember what it was.
I was outraged.
It was a visiting room.
Jesse was out in the waiting room at this point
and this man had this little boy in there who was his son
or his stepson, I don't know
but the child was about 4 or 5 years old
and they were in the table right next to us.
And I was interviewing Arnie
and all of a sudden he leaned over and asked me
if I could ask the corrections officer
or whoever was in charge in the room
if we could get another table.
And I asked him why, and he said
"that little boy over there bouncing on his father's lap
is getting me very excited."
It took me about 15 minutes to regain my composure.
I remember that like it was yesterday.
I was shocked
'cause even though I was involved in the case now
for two months
and even though I had studied pedophilia
and I knew what these men did to little boys
I had never heard somebody actually say it.
And I was absolutely disgusted.
We did change our table and I spoke to Arnie.
I interviewed him for a very long time.
He was telling me that the only reason
he pled guilty and went to jail
was because he wanted to save his son, Jesse.
He told me that he was a pedophile.
He told me that he had had activity with boys
but not in great neck.
He told me that he had a house in wading river
a beach resort
and that the family enjoyed vacations there.
And he told me that there were certain boys
he took liberties with
and I don't want to go into it
while he was in that area.
"In my early 40s, during the summer
I did go 'over the line'
and did have sexually arousing contact with two boys
short of sodomy.
One of the boys was the son of a close friend
and I feared exposure and loss of this friendship.
The boy might have told his parents
but they said nothing
so I assumed that he really had not told them."
That's what? It's one sentence. What does that mean?
Do you fucking know what that sentence means?
I don't even fucking know what that sentence means.
I "sexually aroused?"
What the fuck is he talking about?
Maybe he put his arm around the kid.
Maybe he took him in a sailboat
and he found that sexually arousing?
Maybe he was leaning against a tree.
That's called sexually arousing contact
if you're sexually aroused while you lean against a tree.
I don't know what that means.
I don't know what that sentence means.
When Arnold was first arrested, he said
"I'm arrested because of this magazine.
I sent one magazine in the mail
and that's why I'm arrested, and it's nothing.
It's just nothing.
It doesn't count, it doesn't matter
it's nothing."
And you know, you live as husband and wife
you share certain intimacies.
I said to him, "tell me the truth.
What happened?"
He says, "that's it. That's the truth."
So it came out that he had in fact molested a young man.
And we were sitting in the therapist's office
and he said, "oh, I just molested two boys."
And I said, "two? Two?"
I said, "I thought you told me only one."
"Well," you know, and he
"it didn't matter. It's nothing," you know.
And then I went berserk.
And I felt betrayed.
Yeah, my father had the magazines
and yes, my father admitted that he was a pedophile
and had these fantasies
and yes, my father admitted that he was no saint
and that there were times that he slipped
but I was arrested, too
and I'm not a child molester.
And I don't think it's appropriate
for me to have to answer for the sins of my father.
This is what I walk around with.
It's just, every day.
It's just ridiculous.
All I think about is the case and my career
and they're completely, it's like oil and water.
With the case, it's a question of research.
My brother's been in the law library
researching his current plan
and I'm supposed to go out and make people laugh.
It's unbelievably difficult to deal with the case
and then go out and entertain people.
Hey!
Hi, everyone!
We carefully investigated this case for trial.
Really get into the case, examine, investigate
and try to build a defense.
While I was out on bail
I put all the charges into a database
so that they could be sorted by complainant
by time period, by nature of charge.
For example, there was one complainant
10-year-old boy
says he came to class in the spring of 1986
and during this 10-week session
where he was only over my house
for an hour and a half once a week
he says that there were 31 instances of sexual contact.
That's 3 times a week
every single week...
for 10 straight weeks
and then the course ends.
In the fall, he re-enrolled for the advanced course
and says that he was subjected to 41 more instances
of anal and oral sodomy in the next 10-week session
and nobody said anything.
Week after week, month after month
year after year
until after the police came knocking on doors
and asking questions.
I went to the doorbell.
There were two nassau county detectives
and they said they'd like to speak to our son
with regard to the Friedman matter.
They came in and said, "we know something happened to him."
They didn't say, "we believe."
They said, "we know."
And they wanted to speak to him.
I remember it was actually kind of a frightening experience
because I remember they're talking
to my parents about this within earshot of me.
I remember actually eavesdropping
on what they said
and what they said made my heart race
because they were saying
that actually quite a few horrible things
had happened to a lot of children
and I was one of them.
And quite honestly, I didn't believe it
and I was very confused and very angry about this,
thinking, well, why are these people
going around telling my parents
that all kinds of things have happened
when I have simply no recollection of anything?
Children want to please very often.
They want to give you the answers that you want.
Adults do that as well.
So you have to be very mindful of the fact
that when you're interviewing a child
if the child starts to answer questions
your responses should be somewhat in the framework of
"and then what happened?"
Or, "what happened next?"
Or, "what do you remember then?"
As opposed to
"he did this to you, didn't he?"
Or "she did this to you, didn't she?"
That's a very, very dangerous type
of interview process to use.
If you talk to a lot of children
you don't give them an option, really.
You just, you be pretty honest with them.
You have to tell them pretty honestly that
"we know you went to mr. Friedman's class.
We know how many times you've been to the class."
You know, we go through the whole routine.
"We know that there was a good chance
that he touched you or Jesse touched you
or somebody in that family touched you
in a very inappropriate way."
And I listened to them talking to him
and it got to a point
where it wasn't asking him what happened.
It was more of them telling him what happened
and that when they didn't like what he said
they kept repeating to him that they know what happened
and that he should tell.
I believe that I remember saying that I saw Jesse, like
chase after a kid or hit a kid or something like that
and that's what I testified to to the grand jury.
And I remember saying that because I felt
and I feel like when I said that
that ended the questioning.
And so that might have meant that
you could infer maybe that they were asking me
a lot of questions, trying to get something
and I just wanted to give them something.
I mean I don't want to be
say I'm a perjurer or anything
but I did not observe anything like that happening.
What I do remember is
the detectives putting me under a lot of pressure to speak up.
And at some point, I kind of broke down.
I started crying.
And when I started to tell them things
I was telling myself that it's not true.
I was telling myself, "just say this to them
in order to get them off your back."
I came across a document
regarding a group of children from the Friedman case
who were in therapy
and it stated that many of them
had absolutely no recollection of the abuse
and there was some discussion
about whether hypnosis would be a good idea now,
exactly what you're not supposed to do.
It was the kind of therapy
that had a really good chance of messing up kids' memories
and implanting false memories.
My parents put me in therapy right away.
They put me in hypnosis
and tried to recall facts that I had buried.
And that's how I first came out, started talking about it,
just through being hypnotized and everything
I recalled things that I would bury.
I was able to talk about them.
For example, what would be something that you recall?
The actual first time
I actually recalled that I was actually molested.
Wow, I was actually molested.
I can deal with it now.
That was the first time.
And you recalled through hypnosis the first episode?
Yes.
So tell me about that, if you remember.
I don't remember much about it.
It was so long ago.
I just remember that I went through hypnosis
came out, and it was in my mind.
19-year-old Jesse Friedman
was arraigned on more than 198 additional counts
of child sexual abuse.
This brings the total number of sexual abuse charges to 245.
Jesse was grossly overcharged
and you're basically terrorizing the defendant.
You're telling the defendant
"look, if you plead guilty
you know, we'll give you a good deal
and, on, you know, 2 charges.
But if you insist on going to trial
we're going to put 1,003 charges on you.
And if you're convicted of all those charges
you're gonna rot in jail the rest of your life."
I was told that if he went to trial
the judge would give 3 consecutive sentences.
Instead of concurrent
the sentencing would be consecutive.
I said, "oh, my god."
She just kept telling me over and over
"the only thing to do is to plead guilty
and to get the best deal you can.
You can't go to trial.
It doesn't matter if you're guilty or innocent.
You can't go to trial, because if you go to trial
you're gonna go to prison for the rest of your life."
I said, "but ma, I didn't do it."
She said, "that doesn't matter.
You have to plead guilty."
You have to understand, this is a 19-year-old kid
and he is now facing the most heinous charge known to man
and everyone in the world
slowly but surely, was turning against him.
I don't care about my parents.
I wish it was just my brothers.
Oh, fuck.
I don't care about my mother, that's for sure.
If my brothers were ok
then my mother could go to fucking hell.
My father is not going to survive
if my brother gets incarcerated.
So
so when the guilty verdict comes in on Jesse
my father's gonna kill himself.
Jesse's gonna go to jail for the rest of his life.
Seth is gonna move west.
Fuck fuck.
I received a telephone call from Jesse asking to see me
and Jesse told me that he wanted to plead guilty.
In 1988, there was no way that a jury in nassau county
who had been reading the newspaper headlines
in "newsday" for over a year
those people were never going to listen
to anything the defense had to say
and I was absolutely terrified
of going to prison for 100 years.
Jesse had always maintained his innocence.
I don't work out deals for people who are innocent.
And my first reaction was, "I'm not gonna do it.
You're not guilty, you're not pleading guilty."
And at that point, he told me that
"I have something to tell you."
And with tears rolling down his eyes, literally
he told me that he was abused by his father growing up
and that while he never enjoyed the sexual part of that
he did enjoy the attention his father gave him
and being with his father
and that not everything he had said
about nothing happened was true.
Peter Panaro was personally convinced
that my father had sexually abused me
and nothing I could say
could dissuade peter from this notion.
Jesse felt that if judge Boklan knew
that he also was a victim of his father
that she might consider the plea negotiations
in a more favorable way.
He came up with this strategy.
It was Peter Panaro's fictionalized story
that he fed to me
and said, "if you say this, it's gonna look good for you."
I told him I wouldn't do it.
I told him, "Jesse, when you plead guilty in open court
you're gonna have to admit
to this type of anal sodomy 14 times.
And I'm not gonna let you do that
unless you can admit it."
He looked me right in the eye
always liked to call me by my name
before he made a statement
and said, "peter, I can admit it."
The only concern that Peter Panaro had
was that ethically as a lawyer
he couldn't let his client go into court
and say something happened
that he knew his client had told him was a lie.
The private investigator wasn't coming up with anything helpful.
There was not gonna be any defense witnesses.
There wasn't any money to hire experts.
Mom was insistent upon there not being a trial.
Peter Panaro wasn't believing me
no matter how many times I told him nothing happened.
I just ran out of options.
Jesse was a very good baby.
I remember when we brought him home from the hospital
and Arnie looked at that baby and he said
"that child is marvelous.
He's wonderful"
and he was so thrilled.
And David was the big brother
and he used to take care of Jesse.
We used to let David watch him
and he was very protective of his baby brother.
It's amazing.
Six months from now
I already don't have a father or a mother.
Six months from now I'm not gonna have my brother.
If I ever watch this
I don't know when it's gonna be.
I don't know where I'm gonna be.
I don't know what's gonna happen to my family.
I'm so scared.
I don't want to have to spend the next 8 hours
screaming with my sons and fighting with them.
Then don't.
I want them out of this house tomorrow morning.
Mom
I don't give a shit.
I want you out of this house tomorrow morning.
You may not give a shit about Jesse
but we are here for Jesse.
What are you all talking about here?
Can't you put your anger aside for one minute?
I cannot put my anger aside about you.
You have been nothing but hateful, hostile, and angry
ever since this began.
Ok, jess, we're on.
Ta da. I feel like shit.
What's today's date?
Today's the day before I went to jail.
"Went" to jail?
- I'm going to jail. - Because we're watching it.
We're gonna be watching this after I'm already out of jail.
After 4, 41/2 years
because the case gets reopened.
At this point in time, my life is as good as over.
It is terminated at this point only to resume at a later date.
This one'll go, this one'll shatter.
The night before Jesse's plea we stayed up all night.
Maybe I shot the videotape
so that I wouldn't have to remember it myself.
It's a possibility
because I don't really remember it outside of the tape.
Like when your parents take pictures of you
do you remember being there
or do you remember just the photograph
hanging on the wall?
Even if I'm facing the worst scenario possible tomorrow
and for every day following it
I have to think tonight that it's not gonna be that bad.
Goodness knows
I don't want to look like my father.
Goodness knows, I want to separate myself
from Arnold Friedman as much as possible
and I'm not throwing chairs tomorrow.
Good.
And if this trial were postponed for 3 years
in 3 years, I would win.
But here today, at this point
trying to start a trial in two weeks
I would lose this trial.
We feel this way
and that is what would happen.
So what are you thinking, jess?
I'm not.
You're avoiding?
Well, I gotta eat something.
I'm proud to say
I've managed to leave barely any gas in the car.
See, just our luck
we'll be trapped at the house.
We'll run out of gas at the house.
- You a child molester, jess? - Nope.
Did you ever do it?
Never touched a kid.
Did you do what they said you did?
I never touched a kid.
I never saw my father touch a kid.
Good.
Yeah, but still, you must have done it.
Yeah, but surely something has happened.
It must, something.
Because the police say it's true.
Ok, you never touched a kid, right?
Well, if something happened
it didn't happen while I was there.
And it was a minimal incident
because the kid didn't say anything about it.
But the police, how could they be lying?
Shut up, seth.
The children
the 14 children in this case are clearly victims.
No one could ever argue that.
The real culprit here is Arnold Friedman.
The man is a monster.
He abused him and he molested him.
This can't be overlooked.
I can't believe we live in such a cold society
that no one could look at this man and understand that.
My father raised me confused
about what was right and what was wrong
and I realize now how terribly wrong it all was.
I wish I could have done something to stop it sooner.
I wish there was something I could have done.
I'm very, I'm...
I'm just so sorry it happened.
Judge Boklan sternly looked down
and said that she recommended to the parole board
that he serve the maximum period of time permitted by law
a statement which I felt was harsh and unnecessary
to a 19-year-old under these circumstances.
Jesse was a victim.
There's no question, Jesse was a victim
but even when he was caught
Jesse never expressed any kind of sympathy for these kids
and as a matter of fact
on the day that the plea was taken
Jesse was dancing and singing on the courthouse steps
while being videotaped by his two brothers.
My brain hurts!
It'll have to come out.
My brain, but I'm using it!
But I'm using it!
Nurse!
Nurse!
They were taking pictures.
I remember someone brought that to my attention.
We looked out the window.
Because I'm saying to myself
"this is very bizarre."
I mean he's about to go to jail for the next 6 to 18 years
and he's out on the courtroom steps
in some sort of theatrical performance.
That is so funny, when they're all
I think it was about distracting ourselves
not necessarily distracting Jesse.
Jesse was
I think he was the most comfortable
about the whole situation.
You know
I don't know how he has always been
the most comfortable about it, but he has.
Ok, right about now
we've been waiting for a good two hours or so now
because evidently the parents
stormed denis dillon's office this morning
when they received the news last night
that I was to plead guilty
and they were not aware of this fact.
They were not even aware that negotiations were underway.
They did not want me to have less than 10 to 30
and there are a lot of people
probably making all sorts of angry statements
at this point in time.
I can imagine what they're discussing.
The meeting must have, just like our family.
Well, there wasn't really much of them anyway
but that means the meeting's over.
That means the meeting's over.
Go ask them, jess.
You hold it. I'm not holding it.
Should I do it, jess?
Oh, my god.
I can't believe this.
Oh, my god.
He raped my son!
Get them away from me!
They're animals.
Oh, my god, I don't believe it.
Wow.
After Jesse went to jail
I know my friends said to me
"don't you feel, like, terrible being alone
in such a big house?"
I said, "no, I feel calm."
That's when I really started becoming a person
and started to live.
Elaine divorced him while he was in prison.
He settled into life there
you can't say it was good in prison
but it was as good as it could get for him.
But of course, the torment continued
and got worse because of Jesse.
My brother never got over the guilt.
He had talked about taking his life
because he had this insurance policy he had taken out.
I think it was $250,000, 1/4 million
and Jesse was the beneficiary.
He said, "this is the only thing I have left to give Jesse
so he has money when he gets out
and he can make some kind of life for himself
because I've screwed it up otherwise for him."
By that time, that clause in the insurance policy
where suicide was payable had come into effect.
And this is the coroner's report.
It describes the cause of death as doxepin intoxication
which basically means that Arnold took
a massive overdose of antidepressants.
I took a deep breath and I said
"it's over, David.
He's out of his misery.
It's over."
I thought it was a blessing
because the guilt he was carrying
he was so unhappy.
He was out of his misery.
The rest of the family wasn't
but he was.
I found it a blessing.
Let me entertain you
let me make you smile.
It's unbelievably difficult.
I have to read these horrible letters
about my brother being almost killed in prison.
My friends call me, I'm crying.
"Why are you crying?" I can't tell them.
None of the people that do what I do
know about this story.
Just the intimation of something like this
can ruin someone's career.
And I'm always afraid that's going to happen.
So let me entertain you
and we'll have a real good time
I feel I will never really know the truth.
But the one truthful thing
or the honest thing we know
howard loved his brother.
Howard loved his family.
Loves his family.
And I believed him when he said
he didn't do those terrible things.
I believed him.
Arnold had a need to confess
and he had a need to go to jail.
And the sad thing is that he took his son with him.
What's the term about families?
Dysfunctional?
Numero uno.
It was not the way it was supposed to end.
People were supposed to realize that all of this was nonsense
and we'd try to go back to living our normal lives.
Hey! Hi, everyone!
I would have to stare at Arnold across the dinner table
and it was just the two of us.
There was really nothing between us
except these children that we yelled at.
We named the cottage "peaceful pond cottage"
because we were looking for a place of healing and peace.
Any comment on your personal life, sir?
It's personal.
Oh, my god.
Hey, how you doing?
Oh, my god.
Oh, my god.
Yes! Finally.
- Is that him? - That could be he.
Shit.
Oh, my god.
Oh, my god.
Room service.
Oh, god.
You order a son? You looking for me?
Surprise.
Hi. Look at me.
Look.
CQ
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