NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A state appeals court has ruled prosecutors do not need to turn over a criminal case file to a man trying to clear his name in a notorious 1980s child molestation case.
A state Supreme Court Appellate Division panel ruled Wednesday to overturn the 2013 decision from a Nassau County judge who said Jesse Friedman could have “every piece of paper” in the records except for victims’ names. It said some records should remain confidential.
Friedman and his father pleaded guilty to abusing 13 young boys taking computer classes in the basement of their Great Neck, Long Island, home. The case was the subject of the Oscar-nominated 2003 documentary “Capturing the Friedmans.”
Friedman, who is married, served 13 years in prison for the sexual abuse but was freed when the case was reopened.
Arnold Friedman committed suicide in prison in 1995, leaving behind a $250,000 life insurance benefit to his then-imprisoned son.
After being released from prison in 2001, Friedman has insisted he is innocent, and is determined to clear his name.
“The idea of a fair trial was an impossibility,” Friedman told CBS2 in a 2012 interview. “I had no viable other option. I was faced with 243 crimes which I did not commit.”
Friedman and his attorney filed the motion to hold a hearing to review evidence in the case in 2014, which was later approved by Long Island prosecutors. He also filed a lawsuit against former Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, alleging that prosecutors defamed him to look like a ‘bag guy.’
Friedman said Wednesday he was disappointed by the decision.
Nassau County prosecutors, who opposed the release of the records in order to protect the victims, have consented to an actual innocence hearing, though the timing of that court proceeding remains unclear.
“Jesse Friedman’s victims never testified in open court because he pleaded guilty, forfeiting his right to a public trial,” Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Acting Nassau County DA Madeline Singas, said. “We are gratified that the court recognized that the statements of non-testifying witnesses are confidential and not disclosable under the law.”
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