Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Prosecutor Jordan Friter is Moving On...

     After more than six years of seeking justice for child sexual assault victims and putting rapists and other sexual predators behind bars, Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Jordan Friter is leaving his prosecutorial hat behind to begin a new job in the private sector in the arena of civil litigation.
Montgomery County Prosecutor Jordan Friter/Photo by Carl Hessler Jr.
     "If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change anything about it," Friter said last week as he was preparting to leave his fourth floor office at the courthouse for the last time. 

     “Having the opportunity to handle sexual assault cases and cases involving child abuse is an experience that has been the most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done, fighting for justice for the most vulnerable in our society.  

     “These kids, a lot of times, don’t even understand, even at the most elementary level, what has happened to them. But to be able to bring them and their families justice and closure so they can move on and live normal lives is something that has been very rewarding to me,” Friter added.
     The life of a sex crimes prosecutor can be emotionally draining and even the best prosecutors are subject to burnout. But Friter never showed signs of career fatigue and was always at the top of his game in the courtroom fighting for crime victims.
     “It has given me a whole different perspective on the world and about the awful things that happen out there,” Friter said candidly about the job of a sex crimes prosecutor.

Friter's cases were some of the most horrendous:

     In September 2014, a Springfield man was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison, to be followed by five years’ probation, after he pleaded guilty to charges of rape and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the knifepoint sexual assault of his ex-girlfriend while her child was nearby. Friter sought a lengthy prison sentence against the man.
   “It doesn’t get much worse than this in terms of a physically violent sexual assault,” Friter said at the time. “The victim believed she was not going to walk out of that house alive. This really combines the worst elements of the crimes that we see in the sexual assault unit. This combines horrendous physical violence, the threat of death and the ultimate violation of this victim’s body by sexually assaulting her and by doing that in front of a 2-year-old child just shows that this defendant had absolutely no regard for anybody but himself.”

    In June 2011, a 21-year-old Philadelphia man was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of third-degree murder in connection with the 2010 death of his daughter inside a relative’s Plymouth Township residence. He admitted to causing the death of his 10-week-old daughter by recklessly shaking her, causing her to suffer traumatic brain injuries.
    “This was a man who we believe violently shook his 10-week-old daughter, causing her death. There can be no excuse or justification for that,” Friter said at the time. “The impact on the family is just unimaginable, the pain they have had to deal with, not only losing a child but losing a child in this way, at the hands of the father. Having to deal with that I can’t even begin to fathom what that’s like.”

     And over the years Friter prosecuted numerous individuals who possessed or shared child pornography on their home computers, many of whom are in jail today. Friter always was prepared to send home the message about the danger of such conduct.
     “His actions of downloading and storing child pornography create opportunities for children to be abused. Once these pictures are out there on the Internet they are permanent. Every time somebody downloads them, looks at them or pleasures themselves over them, they are re-victimized over and over again. He’s helping to maintain that market on the Internet where this dark and disgusting behavior goes on,” Friter argued recently during one offender’s sentencing hearing.

     
Jordan Friter
Before he was hired as a prosecutor, Friter, who grew up in Whitemarsh and attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, actually spent two summers while in law school as an intern in the district attorney’s office. Upon finishing law school he was hired as a prosecutor in 2009 by current District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. Since 2010, Friter has been on the sex crimes team and two years ago he was promoted to chief of the unit.
     
     “The mentoring I received since I got here has been outstanding. It certainly has made me tougher as a human being. The people I got to work with in this office and the various law enforcement agencies in the county, everybody’s been nothing short of spectacular. Everyone is really dedicated to their jobs and it was great to see everybody working toward a common goal every day,” Friter said.

Along the way, Friter gained the respect of judges, fellow prosecutors and defense lawyers.
    “We both started the same day so our careers have been similar the past seven years, from internship to the present,” fellow Prosecutor Jason Whalley said. “He was a good colleague and a good friend. He was someone you could depend on at work and he took cases very seriously. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and I think he’ll do well wherever he goes.”

Prosecutor Sophia Polites, who also works on the sex crimes unit, commended Friter for devoting years of service to assisting victims of sex abuse and physical abuse.
     “He helped countless victims, adults and children, and walked them through the criminal justice system, a process that can oftentimes be very difficult,” Polites said. “As captain of the unit, he was a great mentor, teacher and someone that you could rely on to help, whether that was bouncing ideas off of or just being there when you needed him. His personality made him perfect for the job and he will be missed.”

Wendy Fuentes worked side by side with Friter on a daily basis as his administrative assistant.
     “He’s an amazing person. I’m going to miss him tremendously,” said Fuentes, adding other prosecutors “trusted him and turned to him for advice.” “He’s an all-around good person and his work ethic was wonderful.”

Deputy District Attorney Thomas McGoldrick said Friter “will be greatly missed.”
Deputy DA Thomas McGoldrick
     “He has a wonderful sense of ethics, really strong character and in the handling of his cases he had excellent judgment as a prosecutor,” McGoldrick said. “The position Jordan had was one of the most challenging in the office, running the sex crimes team. They are the most challenging types of cases we have and he did an excellent job handling them.”

Friter is joining the Mullaney & Mullaney Law Firm in Skippack. 

     From a personal standpoint, Jordan was always available for press questions and never dodged the press or the tough questions while his cases played out in court. He was always forthright, knowledgeable about the law, and he always treated reporters with respect, understanding we have jobs to do too. I always appreciated that about Jordan.

Congratulations, Jordan, on your new career endeavor. Here’s wishing you much success.

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