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Court debate over Friedman prison discipline

Jesse Friedman and his wife, Lisabeth, hold a

Jesse Friedman and his wife, Lisabeth, hold a news conference at the courthouse in Mineola after Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice released the results of a three-year review of his 1988 sex abuse case. (June 24, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A hearing Friday on whether the Nassau district attorney should release documents in the Jesse Friedman child molestation case devolved quickly into a debate over whether Friedman was disciplined in prison in 2000 for allegedly writing and distributing stories about incest and child rape.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice had mentioned the stories in a report released Monday re-examining the case against Friedman and finding that he was justifiably convicted of child sex abuse in 1988.

Friedman maintains his innocence and says that he and his father were coerced into pleading guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing more than a dozen boys who took computer classes in their Great Neck home.

Jesse Friedman's father, Arnold, killed himself in prison in 1995. Jesse Friedman served 13 years and was paroled in 2001.

Both Friedman and Rice now accuse each other of twisting the facts of the case and withholding relevant information.

Of the stories about incest and child rape that prosecutors say Friedman wrote and distributed in jail, Friedman's lawyer, Ron Kuby of Manhattan, said: "He never wrote it. He never possessed it. It was not his."

Kuby said though Friedman was accused of possessing the stories in a disciplinary action, he was later found not guilty of the charge and presented a document that he said was proof of his client's innocence. Friedman was not in court Friday.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz said in court that he had never seen a document saying Friedman was found not guilty, and he found the document Kuby presented in court illegible. He briefly suggested that it might have been Kuby's own handwriting on the official document.

"Mr. Kuby provided a nearly illegible document in court today and claims that Friedman was not punished for possessing these stories," said Rice spokesman John Byrne. "Even if that is true, Mr. Friedman's possession of these pornographic materials is well-documented in prison records," Byrne said.

Schwartz read a letter aloud in court in which Friedman told his uncle he had written a "very pornographic" short story in prison.

A state Department of Corrections spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday.

Though Rice's report this week concluded her investigation, Friedman and his legal team are still asking Supreme Court Justice Dana Winslow to release key documents in the case. Kuby has asked for the original case file and the original grand jury minutes, which he says he is entitled to see.

Prosecutors say Kuby is not entitled to see the documents because they involve child sex abuse victims.

Winslow ordered Schwartz to respond to Kuby's request for the documents by July 22.

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