Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A local teacher who molested his charges was allowed to take a new job in West Virginia, where a student died in his care.

By Aina Hunter
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Sep. 22, 2004

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Lewis didn't care much for the new hire, so he stayed out of his way, and years went by without incident. He didn't become suspicious until he saw Friedrichs holding the child so closely.

The boy Lewis saw in Friedrichs' lap is now approaching 50 and has teenage sons of his own. His name is Eddie Bartholomew, and he told Barber that Friedrichs liked to screw with little boys' heads. He said he'd never told anyone how badly Friedrichs, who had once been his favorite teacher, had made him feel.

Sometimes, Bartholomew told Barber, Friedrichs would be nice, and sometimes he'd be weird. There was the time he told him he should tuck his shirt deep into his underwear, and not just in his pants. Then he proceeded to undo his pants and tuck his shirt in for him.

But that wasn't what made Bartholomew hate him. It was when Friedrichs staged a boxing match between him and another boy--a tough kid who could really fight. Bartholomew says he was beaten bloody. Decades later the pounding he took is still vivid enough for him to wonder what kind of sick pleasure his teacher took in seeing him nearly killed.

He says Friedrichs saw what was happening and wouldn't stop the fight. He stopped talking to Friedrichs after that.

Boxing, Barber learned, was a recurring theme. Former students said Friedrichs would introduce boxing to boys he thought had behavior problems--though some, like Bartholomew, thought he just liked watching kids get hurt. The more parents, teachers and former students Barber spoke to, the more convinced he became that Friedrichs had killed Jeremy, perhaps in the course of some sort of dangerous sado-sexual game.

Through his sources Barber began to get a picture of who the favorites--he called them "golden boys"--were. He learned which boys were held after school the most, which ones had their desks pulled up to the front of the room near Friedrichs'.

He saved these critical interviews for last, waiting till he'd amassed enough circumstantial evidence to zero in on what he was really after.

Kuharik, who took notes as Barber conducted the interviews, says seeing Barber in action was really something. First he would give his subjects general information about how pedophiles work and put Friedrichs in context.

Then he'd say he suspected Friedrichs had molested students in West Virginia. Then he'd tell the man something like, "Look, I know you were one of Friedrichs' favorites. You were a safety-boy, you stayed late and he drove you home sometimes. Why don't you tell us what else happened. He molested you, didn't he?"

Inwardly cringing, Kuharik says she often thought during those moments, "Oh God, what if he's wrong?" But time after time the man being questioned would come to trust Barber enough to tell him things he'd kept locked inside for decades.

Their stories were truly disturbing. One former student now in his early 40s told Barber that Friedrichs said he could help him get over his shyness by doing exercises with him. Friedrichs would have the boy read from a book while he crouched beside him, his face just inches from the boy's face. As the boy sweated and squirmed, Friedrichs smiled.

Once, when the same boy hurt himself in gym class, Friedrichs had him stay after school to check for "hidden injuries." Alone in the classroom, he had the boy strip naked while he poked and probed. He told him not to tell anyone. Soon after Friedrichs performed oral sex on the 12-year-old boy in the book closet.

Barber spoke with another man in Friedrichs' fifth-grade class. He described being told to stay at school after the other kids had gone home. At first Friedrichs began groping him through his clothes, but as the semester progressed, so did Friedrichs' demands.

Soon he was performing oral and anal sex on the boy in the book closet. He got into a routine of stripping the boy, masturbating on him, cleaning him up and then driving him home by dinnertime.

Both of these victims had been among those questioned by school officials in 1973. At the time Marise Stillman didn't know the extent of Friedrichs' crimes. But they did.

The victims' stories merely confirmed for Barber what his sixth sense had told him all along: Friedrichs was capable of the unspeakable.

By the end of his 12-month investigation, Barber had a complete profile of Friedrichs. He felt he knew him inside and out.

He knew that Friedrichs liked boys 10 to 12 years old--skinny ones with fair complexions. He knew he'd choose his victims from a select group. During the school year it would be a safety guard or an honor student; in the summer it might be the boys at the pool or those he taught to box in his backyard.

Armed with the sworn statements of the early Prospect Park victims, Barber was ready to head to West Virginia.

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Comments 1 - 6 of 6
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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 16, 2011 at 11:48AM

“Where did friedricks live while he worked in Prospect Park...are there reports of him molesting in the neighborhoods (in wooded areas or on streets) at this time? Did he only molest children well known to him.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:18AM

“He went after well groom, good standing boys. I had him when I was at Interboro (5th grade) We would everyday, have to write our letters ABCs
once we were done a page, we would take it up to him and he would correct it with the students next to him. He always always have his hand around the the boys and hold them tight while checking the work. only the boys no girls I will never forget that, never understood why he did that.
he also had the boys desk around his deck. He was a very mean teacher”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:27AM

Interboro knew what he was!! in my class it was a boy name Steve his father was a priest and quess who started to go to church? i know because I went to that church too! Steve's father caught on what this guy was!!
he went to the school broad back then and they did nothing about! Quess who stop going to church once Steve;s father did that! i will never forget him because is was so mean to the kids, you never step out of line with him
years later when I heard what he did the past made sense to me”

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4. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2011 at 10:08PM

“I heard about this, but first time I read all about it. I will never forget being in his class for math, and since I had switched schools the prior year, I was never taught short division. I was a smart kid, and rather than simply take a few minutes to teach me this after class, he put me into a lower math class (his was the highest). I liked my new Math teacher, but was bored to death!! It always bothered me why he did that. He was a popular teacher as far as I knew then, so it really made me feel bad. But alas, I am a female!! Now all is clear. Even when I became a safety, finally, as it was a coveted position, and it was full of boys, I never could see why kids thought he was so great. I hated him for putting me a dumber class, and I always thought he was mean to students. Now it all makes sense. I am horrified what he did to my classmates! I remember those huge closets, I am so sorry anyone was abused like that.”

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5. Kim said... on May 21, 2014 at 09:28PM

“I was probably one of the few female students in his "inner circle" at Prospect Park Elementary. He saw I had artistic talent so I stayed after class so he could help me with painting. And I got a ride home in the totally awesome mustang convertible (66-67). And there were times that a certain few of us (mostly boys, and me) got to have a ride to his house in Collingdale. I must say that he never approached me in an inappropriate way-but I was clearly not his ultimate interest. Words cannot express about what happened to my classmates and Jeremy Bell-it is just unbelievable and sickening.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Sep 12, 2014 at 09:33AM

“At his trial, Friedrichs kept baiting Jeremy Bell's dad, Roy, who recently passed away. He said from the stand that Jeremy told him, "Just don't do to me what my dad did to me." His goal was to try to make Roy scream at him during the trial so he would get a mistrial. But that didn't happen. Roy kept his cool and the jury found Friedrichs guilty.

He was really gross in his trial. He talked about "defecating" and seemed to add details to try to passively aggressively make people uncomfortable when he recalled the night that Jeremy died.

He even brought his own kids to the trial, and I felt so sorry for them. Granted, his daughter came across as haughty because she felt so ashamed, and she tried to say that one of Friedrichs' victims had a mental problem, but nobody believed her. Everyone just felt bad for her.

I'm glad he's in prison where he belongs.”


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