By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (retired)

“Hey Pix!. I went to see “Capturing The Friedmans” at the movies last night and I saw you on the screen.”

That was the e-mail that I received from my friend in New Jersey (she calls me Pix), a couple of weeks ago.
I had no idea. I had heard about that movie. It was a documentary about a Long Island teacher and his son who were arrested, tried and convicted of Pedophilia. It got good reviews but it didn’t sound like something that I wanted to see. I vaguely recalled the story but I didn’t remember covering any of it. I have covered a lot of court stories in the course of my career and some stand out in my mind. This just wasn’t one of them.

I stopped back at the newspaper one afternoon, last week, to attend a little party for another photographer who was about to join me in retirement. It was his last day and they were throwing a little whoop-de-do for him and they invited those of us retirees who were still around. As I walked through the newsroom, a number of people greeted me with, “Hey Krausie, I saw ya in the Friedman flick.”

And, I got phone calls from people that I knew from around the country. Jeez!

I called Barbara and told her about it. She was impressed but surprised that I didn’t remember covering the case. Yeah. Strange. It happened in 1988. I’m lucky if I can remember to zip up, these days. But, we were looking for things to do, this past weekend and the film was playing at the Huntington Arts Cinema. So, we had dinner at TGIF’s and then went to the 7:20 PM movie.

The film was interesting enough and as it progressed, I had flashes of recall but I still couldn’t remember what part I played in the story. The elder Friedman was a teacher from Great Neck, Long Island who ran computer classes in the basement of his home. He and his youngest son, who was in his late teens or early 20’s at the time, were accused of molesting a number of young male students. There was tv news footage of the arrest and the subsequent court arraignment. I spotted several photographers from other papers, shooting away as the Friedmans were brought into the courtroom. I saw Dick Yarwood, another Newsday shooter, but I didn’t see me. Barbara and I thought that we must have missed the shot with me. Sometimes those things just flash on and off the screen so fast, if you blink, you miss it.

There have been many occasions where people have told me that they’ve spotted me on tv while covering news events. And most of the time, it’s usually a quick blur as the tv camera pans through the scene.

No matter. We enjoyed the movie. The father was tried and convicted. Now the son was on trial and he copped a plea. At his sentencing, a tv news camera was in the courtroom and showed the younger Friedman, with tears running down his face, listening to the judge impose sentence. The camera cut away and paused on a tall, balding still photographer shooting the drama.

“ There, it’s you!!!” squealed my lovely companion. Yes, there I am. Now how am I going to get out of the theater without being recognized? And, when will the royalty checks start rolling in?

The famous artist, Andy Warhol, once said that everyone is entitled to fifteen minutes of fame. I figure that I was on screen for about 3 seconds so I still have 897 seconds coming to me.

Barbara and I talked about the course of events on the drive home. She couldn’t understand how I could have so little recollection of that story.

It’s easy if you understand the vagaries of the newspaper business. A story like this breaks. The Friedmans are arrested. It happened at night. It wasn’t my shift. Another photographer is assigned to get the pictures. A few days later, the arraignment takes place. I’m doing assignments in Suffolk County. Dick Yarwood is covering Nassau County. He shoots the arraignment. The pre-trial hearings take place and God only knows who is around for them. Chances are that the Day Photo Editor only gets word of these happenings minutes before they take place and the editor will scramble for whatever warm body is in the area.

Sometimes, on a big court story, one photographer may get to see it through from beginning to end. I have had a number of those and those are usually the cases that I can remember. But, this wasn’t one of those times.

Chances are I was shooting some head shots and real estate when my radio went off and an editor shouted, “Kraus! Get right over to Criminal Court in Mineola. Judge Boklin’s court. The Friedman kid is being sentenced.”

And there you have it. My three seconds of fame.


Dick Kraus



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