The investigation into Arnold Friedman’s life started after he was caught in a pedophile sting operation when he received a magazine of child pornography from the Netherlands by mail. In searching his house, investigators found a large collection of child pornography, which led them to expand their investigation. After learning that Friedman taught children computer classes from his home, the police began to suspect him of abusing his students.
Some of the children Friedman taught had alleged Friedman played bizarre sex games with them during their computer classes. Jarecki interviewed some of these children himself; some stated that they had been in the room with other children alleging abuse, and that nothing had happened. One of the “abused” children related a story full of contradictions, and admitted that he had remembered nothing until undergoing hypnosis. The film portrayed police investigative procedures as the genesis of a “witch-hunt” hysteria in the Friedman’s community.
The Friedmans took home videos while Arnold Friedman (and, later, his son Jesse) awaited trial. They were allowed to stay at home in order to prepare for court. The pictures were not made with publishing in mind, but as a way to record what was happening in their lives. The movie shows much of this footage; family dinners, conversations and arguments. Arnold’s wife eventually advised her husband to confess and protect their son.
Arnold Friedman pleaded guilty to multiple charges of sodomy and sexual abuse. According to the Friedman family, he confessed in the hopes that his son would be spared prison time. Jesse Friedman later confessed as well, but now claims he did so to avoid being sent to prison for life. He said in mitigation that his father had molested him. Arnold Friedman admitted to being a pedophile, and to molesting two boys, but not those who attended his computer classes. He is also quoted as admitting that, when he was 13, he molested his younger brother, Howard, who was eight years old. Howard Friedman has said he does not recall this. In addition the lawyer for Jesse Friedman, Peter Panaro stated that Jesse had admitted to him that he was sexually assaulted by his father as a child. He also stated that Jesse had in fact admitted to him that he had sodomized 14 boys. Jesse denies telling the lawyer this and states that the lawyer told him to plead guilty and blame his father.
Arnold Friedman committed suicide in 1995, leaving a $250,000 life insurance benefit to his son. Jesse Friedman was released from prison in 2001 after serving 13 years of his sentence and is currently preparing an appeal. (From Wikipedia)
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