Jesse Friedman, whose trial—alongside his father—for molesting young boys in 1988 was chronicled in Andrew Jarecki’s 2003 Oscar-nominated documentary Capturing the Friedmans, filed a motion on Tuesday to reverse his conviction, which relied upon his admission of guilt.
“I never committed a crime against any child ever,” Friedman said at a courthouse press conference. “I’m looking forward to a fair opportunity to have the evidence heard before a judge. I know that my exoneration is certain. It’s just a matter of having to fight against a district attorney that refuses to acknowledge the own evidence in front of her.”
Friedman, now 45, spent 13 years in prison and is now an Internet book dealer, according to the Associated Press. His father, Arnold, also pleaded guilty and committed suicide in prison in 1995. The younger Friedman claims that he only admitted guilt because he was threatened with the possibility of a life sentence. He has maintained his innocence for the last decade, though a federal appeals court and review ruled that the original conviction was valid and credible.
Last week, Friedman sued Nassau County (N.Y) District Attorney Kathleen Rice for defamation in her report that confirmed the 1988 ruling. UPDATE: Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Rice, said in an email: “Independent prosecutors have spent hundreds of hours performing an exhaustive review of this decades-old case and guilty plea, a review that an independent advisory panel has declared to be as thorough and fair as possible. The papers filed this week don’t change this but we’ll review them and respond as needed in court.”
Jarecki is supporting Friedman’s effort to restore his innocence. “At the time, Capturing the Friedmans was celebrated for its ambiguity, but if you look at the prosecution of this case, it was an unambiguous disaster,” the director told Variety. “If the police and the DA hadn’t bullied everyone, it never would have gotten to this place.”
Here’s the trailer for the 2003 documentary: