Sunday, April 24, 2011

Victims Say Film on Molesters Distorts Facts

Victims Say Film on Molesters Distorts Facts
By SHARON WAXMAN February 24, 2004

for more information on this case:

''Capturing the Friedmans,'' the Oscar-nominated documentary that raises questions about the guilt of a father and son convicted of child molestation, is being criticized by six of their former victims, who say the film omitted or distorted important information about their cases.

The six are suggesting that the director, Andrew Jarecki, created more ambiguity than actually existed about the case both to heighten the dramatic impact of the film and to elicit sympathy for the Friedmans. The film tells the story of the disintegration of a seemingly average Long Island family after the father, Arnold Friedman, and son, Jesse, were accused of molesting children in computer classes they held in the basement of their Great Neck home in the 1980's....

The mother said that Mr. Jarecki's film omitted a third co-defendant, Ross Goldstein, a teenage neighbor who also pleaded guilty to charges of child molestation and who corroborated some of the children's accusations at the time and went to prison. She also said that Mr. Jarecki omitted a tearful confession by Jesse Friedman in prison on Geraldo Rivera's talk show in 1989. Mr. Friedman detailed how his father had molested him as a child. In interviews Jesse Friedman has retracted his confessions, saying he pleaded guilty because he feared he could not get a fair trial and would get the maximum penalty....

Mr. Jarecki said the material on Mr. Goldstein was left out because it duplicated statements by the 13 children but was included in the just-released DVD. He said he considered the Rivera interview unnecessary, since the film showed Jesse Friedman's confession in court....

Two former victims, including the son of the woman who spoke to The Times, wrote an open but anonymous letter last week to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will give out the Oscars on Sunday. They said that the film portrayed the victims as if they had invented their stories to satisfy an overzealous Nassau County police force.

They wrote: ''We did not lie. We did not exaggerate. We were never hypnotized to tell our stories.'' They said the director had twisted the facts in the film to make it appear that they had....

Mr. Jarecki denies that he has become an advocate for Jesse Friedman. Still, Mr. Jarecki has submitted an affidavit on his behalf to the court.

''One of the hallmarks of a balanced film on a controversial subject is that advocates on both sides will never be satisfied that the film supports their agendas,'' he wrote by e-mail. '

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