Man seeking to overturn conviction in notorious 1980s molestation case seeks records release

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Jesse Friedman and his wife Elisabeth Walsh arrive to court in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. A New York judge has granted convicted sex offender Friedman's request for a hearing on his innocence claim in a notorious 1980s abuse case. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


Photographers take pictures of Jesse Friedman and his wife Elisabeth Walsh as they arrive to court in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. A New York judge has granted convicted sex offender Friedman's request for a hearing on his innocence claim in a notorious 1980s abuse case. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


NEW YORK — A man trying to clear his name after pleading guilty in a notorious 1980s child molestation case wants an appeals court to order prosecutors to turn over his criminal case file, including grand jury minutes that led to his indictment.

Jesse Friedman, who served 13 years in prison, has spent more than a decade trying to overturn his conviction. He and his father, Arnold Friedman, pleaded guilty to abusing 13 young boys who had taken computer classes in the basement of their Great Neck, Long Island, home.

The son, now 45, feared a potential life sentence had he been convicted at trial. The father committed suicide in prison in 1995. Their case was the subject of an Oscar-nominated 2003 documentary "Capturing the Friedmans." The filmmaker, Andrew Jarecki, has continued to support Friedman's bid for exoneration.

Friedman's attorney, Ronald Kuby, on Tuesday asked an appeals court to release the records. Kuby has been granted a hearing in Nassau County to prove Friedman's "actual innocence" and said he needs the records to prove his case.

A state Supreme Court judge has previously said Friedman could have "every piece of paper" in the records except for victims' names. That ruling was challenged by the Nassau County district attorney's office, which prosecuted the case.

"This is not the type of thing that should be released," Assistant District Attorney Robert Schwartz told the panel of four judges on Tuesday. "Impeaching these victims now, 25 years later, will not prove his innocence."

The appeals court made no immediate ruling on the request.

The conviction on Friedman's record requires him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Friedman, who now lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, said it's "undeniable that the evidence in the district attorney's file proves I'm innocent."

"It's also undeniable that the district attorney will do everything in their power to keep that evidence concealed, forever if they could," he said. "So we will fight on, and we will one day prove my innocence for sure."

A federal court in 2010 refused to overturn Friedman's conviction but found a "reasonable probability" that he was wrongfully convicted and encouraged the district attorney to review the case. That review, in 2013, concluded that Friedman was properly convicted.

The district attorney's office said Tuesday that it had conducted a comprehensive three-year re-investigation and an independent panel found it was done with no preconceived notions about Friedman's guilt and no agenda to preserve his conviction.

"We've consented to a future public hearing on Mr. Friedman's claims of innocence and we base our opposition to the release of confidential material on longstanding legal precedent and our ongoing commitment to protect these sex crime victims," office spokesman Paul Leonard said.

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