Capturing the Friedmans

At a time when child sexual abuse has been identified as a major public health crisis, the new film “Capturing the Friedmans” takes a skeptical attitude regarding believing children. The 1989, Arnold Friedman and his son Jesse plead guilty to multiple charges of sodomy and sexual abuse against young boys who took computer classes taught in the basement of their home. Jesse now claims he was wrongly convicted.

Our research into the case shows that the director of the film sacrificed truth in favor of creating artistic ambiguity. Clear evidence is omitted and facts are distorted. In addition, the film relies on popular but erroneous myths about child sexual abuse. As a result, uncertainty is created about the guilt of two confessed pedophiles — who are recast as victims — while the real victims — the boys and their families — are portrayed as untrustworthy.

  1. Update: June 24, 2013: A new report affirmed the 1988 child sexual abuse conviction of Jesse Friedman. In a 155-page report released by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, the Review Team tasked with conducting the conviction integrity investigation wrote that “…by any impartial analysis, the re-investigation process…has only increased confidence in the integrity of Jesse Friedman’s guilty plea and adjudication as a sex offender.”
  2. An independent advisory panel appointed to guide the process found the Review Team’s conclusion to be “reasonable and supported by the evidence.” In addition, three of Friedman’s victims affirmed their prior accounts to the Review Team, and at least three others maintained their accusations at various points within the last decade. Read the report
  3. Update: January 13, 2008 – Jesse Friedman’s loses appeal to overturn his convictionA federal judge has rejected Friedman’s bid for exoneration in a child-molestation case, saying he filed his appeal too late.
  4. Annotated Review of the Case and Controversy
  5. “Capturing the Friedmans”: Examining the Myths Behind the Movie
  6. Press Release: Acclaimed Film Helps Convicted Sex Offenders at Victims’ Expense
  7. The Victims Speak Out
  8. Associated Press (February 18, 2004): Capturing the Friedmans’ victims ask Academy to deny documentary Oscar
  9. More information about the effect of sexual abuse on boys