Capturing the Friedmans is a 2003 documentary.
2 out of 10 stars. Only about 10 minutes of this documentary is worth watching. The rest amounts to some sadistic home footage of the Friedman sons raging against their mother and Arnold watching and gloating.
Arnold’s Confessions and Arrest
Arnold Friedman was a pedophile who lived in Great Neck, Long Island, New York with his wife Elaine and his three sons David, Seth, and Jesse. When Arnold was young, his parents divorced and his mother was forced to move into a one bedroom apartment with her two sons, Arnold and Howard. They all slept in the same room which meant Arnold and Howard were frequently subjected to hearing and seeing their mom have sex with strange men. Arnold claims that this is what led him to raping his 8 year old brother Howard when he was 13. This went on for years. Although Arnold grew older, he still preferred 8 year old boys and would seek them out at their summer cottage where there were always young boys. He admitted to his wife Elaine to raping two of these boys. Later he admitted to police and to a news reporter to raping dozens of boys, including at least a dozen boys who were students in his computer class.
In 1987 Arnold was finally caught by the post office and the police. He’d been sending and receiving a great deal of child pornography via the post office. The police set up a sting in which they intercepted some of this child pornography and pretended to be the sendee. Arnold said “enjoy” then shortly thereafter wanted child porn in return. When they finally raided his home they found stacks of child pornography, mostly 8 year old boys. Arnold admitted it was his.
After his arrest for selling child pornography the police noticed he was a schoolteacher and taught computer classes in which the students were all young 8 to 10 year old boys. The police questioned the boys and discovered 98 counts of child rape by both Arnold and his 18 year old son Jesse. The kids said that Jesse was violent and had beaten them in addition to forced oral and anal sodomy. By the time Jesse made it to court, the number of counts against him was 245.
The case against both Arnold and Jesse was strong. But what most of this film centers around are David and Jesse’s claim that Arnold and Jesse had never raped any of those boys. They admit the child porn and that there was a great deal of it in their house and they seem completely apathetic that the children in those photos were violated. This is the only thing you really need to understand about this family–Arnold, Elaine, David, Seth, and Jesse did not care that little boys were sexually violated in the making of Arnold’s extensive collection of child pornography. That is not up for dispute. The evidence is overwhelming and has been admitted by the entire family.
What does a pedophile look like?
From the very beginning of their marriage, Arnold was cold and refused to have sex with his wife Elaine. He was verbally and emotionally abusive toward her, but overtly sexual toward their three sons. Shortly after they were married, he admitted to raping two boys at their summer cottage. She never reported it and she stayed with him.
Arnold obtained a chemical engineering degree from college but decided to become a school teacher instead so he would have constant access to small boys. He also taught a computer class that was geared toward 8 to 10 year old boys which gave him even more access to children. According to the children in this computer class, Arnold and Jesse would get the boys naked, have them sit on their knees with their butts in the air, and both Arnold and Jesse would go around the room sodomizing each child and “leapfrogging” to the next boy in a game they called Leapfrog. When Jesse confessed in court, he claimed Arnold had raped him when he was a child and ruined his life and that this was what caused him to rape little boys.
Most of this documentary centers around the oldest son David, who frequently contradicts himself, and openly rages against his mother Elaine who he hates with a vengeance. It’s not uncommon for children who watch their fathers abuse their mothers to continue that abuse. What is obvious from David’s tapes is that David and Jesse were raised watching their father verbally and emotionally abuse their mother. So they did the same thing openly. Even now, they don’t see themselves as abusive men. But they treat their mother horribly. David repeatedly called his mother sexually ignorant because she didn’t treat Arnold’s pedophilia like a normal sexual choice. You read that correctly. He considers pedophilia “normal”.
The Friedman Gang
One of the investigators in this film called the Friedman sons Arnold’s gang. That’s very accurate. They are bullies who build each other into rages, almost always directed at Elaine, their mother. Much of David’s tapes are these rages at Elaine going on for hours as Arnold sits and watches.
Arnold Friedman’s Conviction
Arnold Friedman plead guilty to raping more than a dozen children. He was given 10 to 30 years in prison and eventually killed himself so his son Jesse could inherit his $250,000 life insurance policy. He never made a plea deal to insure that Jesse was given leniency. He plead guilty because he needed to unburden himself of all the things he’d done.
After Arnold’s conviction and sentencing, Jesse’s attorney went to interview Arnold in prison. A five year old boy was at the next table. Arnold told the attorney that they needed to change tables because the five year old boy was sexually arousing him. :0
After that meeting, Jesse told his attorney that Arnold had repeatedly raped him as a child. He also told him that some of the children in their computer class were indeed raped.
Initially Jesse plead not guilty and his trial dragged on for four years. When the money his mother had raised for his defense finally ran out, he decided to plead guilty. He confessed to raping several of the kids in their computer classes and blamed it on Arnold raping him when he was five years old. He had no remorse for these actions, so the judge gave him the maximum sentence, 6 to 18 years. He served 13.
A Lie is a Lie is Still a Lie
This was a poorly made documentary. It’s confusing and all over the place. All of the Friedmans are liars including Howard Friedman, Arnold’s brother. On one hand they claim that Arnold and Jesse were completely innocent. On the other hand, EVERYONE in the family knew about Arnold’s extensive child pornography collection. The children in these photos were sexually violated to make these photographs. They showed no empathy for these victims at all and instead referred to it as a “sexual choice”. Five and eight year old children cannot choose to have sex, with an adult or anyone else. They’re children. This entire family should have been locked up for eternity. And Andrew Jarecki who made this documentary should have his camera taken away from him.
2 out of 10 stars. Disgusting.