NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man who spent 13 years in prison for molesting children in the 1980s is relaunching his decade-long bid to clear his name, court papers show, reviving a controversy that was made the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary.
Jesse Friedman filed a motion in Nassau County Court to overturn his 1988 conviction and dismiss the charges, saying that police coerced five of the original victims and a chief witness to give false testimony, Freedman’s spokesman, Lonnie Soury, said in a statement on Tuesday.
In addition, a member of a panel that was assembled by the county’s District Attorney to review the prosecution filed an affidavit asking the court to reopen the case citing concerns with the probe, such as not having access to court minutes or free access to witnesses for interviews.
“I urge the court to accord Mr. Friedman a full evidentiary hearing,” Barry Scheck, who also co-directs The Innocence Project legal advocacy group, said in the filing.
The motion comes after years of controversy surrounding Friedman’s conviction.
Friedman was 18-years-old in 1988 when he and his father, Arnold Friedman, pleaded guilty and were convicted of molesting more than a dozen boys during computer classes taught in their home in the upscale Long Island town of Great Neck.
The case gained national attention in 2003 when the documentary film “Capturing the Friedmans,” was nominated for an Academy Award. The film pieced together home video footage and questioned the police work and prosecution that led to their conviction.
In 2010, a federal appeals court refused to overturn Friedman’s conviction, but said the prosecution may have been tainted by biased police.
In response, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice launched an extensive three-year review into the case, and stated that Friedman was rightfully convicted in a 155-page report released a year ago today.
Jesse Friedman served 13 years in prison before being released on parole in 2001. His father, who claimed he pleaded guilty in hopes of keeping his son free, killed himself in prison in 2005.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Edith Honan and Sandra Maler