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Jesse Friedman's attorney, prosecutor spar over convicted sex offender's court record

Jesse Friedman, with his wife Lisabeth, shown in

Jesse Friedman, with his wife Lisabeth, shown in a June 24, 2014 file photo. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The attorney for convicted sex offender Jesse Friedman sparred with a Nassau prosecutor in a Mineola courtroom Tuesday over the existence of a record of the counts Friedman pleaded guilty to in 1988.

Ronald Kuby said the record is key to knowing the counts Friedman was convicted of as he prepares for an upcoming hearing on his innocence claim, because Friedman only has to prove his innocence to those counts.

"You would think . . . that after a three-year exhaustive investigation into the Jesse Friedman conviction, one of the things that would have been uncovered in the district attorney's office is the counts to which Jesse Friedman pled guilty," Kuby said before acting state Supreme Court Justice Teresa Corrigan.

Last month, Corrigan granted Friedman the hearing on his claim of innocence. Corrigan set dates Tuesday for both sides to submit and respond to discovery motions. A hearing date has not been set.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz said prosecutors know the charges Friedman pleaded guilty to and can make "certain educated guesses" to the corresponding counts in the indictment.

Schwartz said proving Friedman's innocence, though, is Kuby's burden. "If Mr. Kuby thinks this is a problem for him, I submit it's his problem," Schwartz said.

Citing case law, he said "actual innocence is factual innocence and not just innocence of the counts to which the people allow the defendant to plead guilty, but to all equal or more serious counts."

Friedman, 45, pleaded guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing boys who took computer classes at his family's Great Neck home. He was released from prison in 2001. He claims he pleaded guilty to avoid life behind bars if convicted at trial and that police manipulated children into making false claims.

The 2003 documentary "Capturing the Friedmans" raised questions about Friedman's prosecution and evidence behind the accusations.

Friedman, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was not in court Tuesday.

Schwartz said he assumes that the court files would not have the information Kuby sought, and it wasn't as much of a problem as Kuby suggested. Corrigan said she hadn't found it yet and would search the files again.

Kuby said he didn't mean to single out Schwartz's predecessor, saying the case was "handled badly" by the court, defense and prosecution.

"It was one perfect storm of dreadful," said Kuby, a Manhattan attorney.

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