Transcript for Convicted Child Molester Fights to Clear Name
We explore a powerful case of crime and punishment still being hotly debated 25 years after the fact. Arnold Freeman and his son Jesse both pled guilty to a horrific series of sexual crimes. The victims young boys and Oscar nominated documentary capturing the freed millions of Americans debating the case. In the years since new evidence has come to light that has many including a US appellate court wondering if just just wasn't really done. With witnesses recanting tonight. We recapturing. The feet. Okay just for. Yeah. What's. And. This is Jesse Friedman in a home video 25 years ago he's nineteen. All about to go to prison for a series of terrible crimes hundreds of pounds and a lesson to young boy is in great to Long Island. Problem alleged teacher and a prosperous Long Island town is charged with sodomizing young boys who were students. Tell us they'll didn't do it. He denying it on the -- -- cruises but along with his father Jesse Friedman had already pled guilty he went to prison for thirteen years. K -- -- and this is Jesse Friedman today we've taken him back to his childhood home but was the last time -- -- 25 and a half years ago prosecutors call at the scene of the crime. But he's determined to prove them wrong. Arm with a stunning US Court of Appeals ruling saying that there was a reasonable likelihood Jesse Friedman was wrongfully convicted. And shocking new evidence child witnesses now all grown up who's saying it never happened just. Consciously decided to. -- I can tell you got it -- -- and and I might nude children -- -- yeah I would never endorsed dynamite. -- -- -- just say this for the animals they got them off the back. How could you possibly plead guilty. To these crimes. If he didn't -- him if you've never been in the position where I was and then you don't fully understand it. Few have ever been in the position Jesse Friedman found himself in 1987. His father Arnold Friedman taught an after school computer class at their home Jessie was his assistant. Authorities discovered Arnold was purchasing child pornography. Through the mail. These are -- on the magazines or from behind the piano. Young boys and sodomy. Police launched an investigation. Questioning the boys in the classes -- one by one dozens of boys said Arnold and sometimes Jesse gave them pornographic video games. Fondled them in -- sodomized them. One game was called LeapFrog described here by one former student. Now -- I remember about that. Com. It's -- twister. Where we're you have to. Sit down. -- As we conducted more interviews of the children. Jesse's name -- to pop up. And then eventually were able to ascertain that Jesse's role was not one of -- helping his -- conduct a computer class. But basically. Abusing children himself five months into the investigation Arnold Friedman pled guilty. And in danger and the -- chocolate things the museum one count people's satisfaction. Not only that he confided to whose wife he had abused boys in the past. We was sitting in -- that this office and he said well I just. Molesting two -- -- it's. -- -- -- -- Tony only want. All of which may Jesse Friedman's position more complicated. How could be -- -- -- if the crime took place right in front of him. The community was -- in arms captured in this chaotic moment at the courthouse. Yeah. And ultimately a year after the investigation began Jesse to pled guilty. So you return to the question. Why would be guilty if he didn't do it. I was eighteen years old and I was the only person standing up and saying these things never happened. My lawyers positioned wires and basically. It doesn't really matter if you're innocent or guilty this don't where you can win this trial. And he was -- -- game is rigged the fix was in. If this story seems familiar it may be because it was told an Oscar nominated documentary back in 2003. Capturing the Friedman's. -- film director and -- Iraqis says he couldn't get the Friedman story out of his head. Over the past decade as he dug deeper he began to have more and more -- -- -- about whether justice had been served. People who were part of those computer classes. Have come forward and said to me nothing ever happened in those classes. There's no question that these classes were not mass -- sessions is impossible that these things took place. In the presence of dozens and dozens of witnesses who remembered none of it. You are persuaded. -- Jesse Friedman is not guilty was never guilty it was completely railroaded this conviction. I am persuaded of that. Sex acts. And witness animal sacrifices -- -- says this was time with other sensational allegations of child abuse like the infamous McMartin daycare case. Would turn out to be unfounded this case occurred at a time when the country was consumed. With a real mass hysteria that's been documented in. Hundreds of papers -- -- believes authorities in Great -- were swept up in the way. Pushing children to say things that weren't true. Approved human baptism of the board now adults. Here -- five of them had just today. I knew nothing had happened I want to be done with -- I was so tired of rehashing it over and over again and I didn't think. I -- gave up hope on ever be able to convince them in the -- it happened. I yeah. You're not gonna -- it -- it would not what else another important right now. They -- cumulative appreciation and get something and I just. Want to give them something. It was. The probably. I was totally tell it's not true -- was a nightmare and -- Never and then it's still something I wake up in cold -- from. Three years ago at the urging of that appellate court the Nassau district attorney's office began a review of his case it's on the brink of completion. With his -- time behind in new -- wonder why Jesse cares so much about clearing his name. He says it's partly because of this woman his wife -- -- It's -- first make new friends. Because there's always sort of that third date moment where you have to say you know this is my idea this is who we are this is what we're dealing -- She was married six years. What they do want is children. But as a convicted sex offender. Jesse can not be within 2500 feet of the child. I don't know I'm going to get to have babies. I don't know what could happen but to what have -- -- have liked to have family have thanked him. Have things be normal but I've accepted that. This may go on so long that I may not be able to have my own children. As we end this interview today Jesse Friedman's been told the DA's report may be released any moment here I -- again. Finally at a place where. I'm really certain. That. I'm going to be -- -- and listen. And you. But what is the -- Jesse Friedman guilty. Or a victim of a terrible injustice. Suffering for his father's sin. When we come back finally the moment Jessie has waited for for so long. The prosecutor's report comes out.
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