Yoel Friedman has endured many hardships in life due to developmental disabilities. Nevertheless, he has worked hard to support himself and lived a quiet life until August 2018. He had a job, two businesses, was happily living with his wife, Sarah, and their two kids. Shortly thereafter, everything changed.
At the age of 37, after getting by on his own for years, Yoel’s freedom and dignity was savagely torn from him when his own brother filed a petition with the court to declare Yoel an incapacitated person and completely took over his care. After being declared Yoel’s guardians in September 2018, his brother, Yehudah, and sister, Faigy, proceeded to neglect their duties of care while leaving Yoel in an increasingly restricted position to meet his own needs. They cut off his access to other forms of aid and isolated him from his wife and family.
Yoel’s wife Sarah was also threatened with potential guardianship. Wanting to stay out of trouble, she kept quiet, remaining distant. For Yoel, the situation became unbearable, and he was unable to find the support he once had. In his own words, Yoel felt he was left with no means to survive.
What kinds of people would do this to another person? Was it truly malintent or simply a misguided attempt to aid a family member who was so different from the rest of society? “In order to force me to surrender…to their full control and direction, they must destroy any accomplishments or help I got [or] will get without them,” Yoel said of the situation.
Where was the justice? What of his human right to autonomy and the ability to live life on his own terms? What follows is the remarkable story of Yoel Friedman’s imprisonment. Many details of Yoel’s situation and the evidence used in his court cases have been classified, made not even available to his family. The lack of details available in his case allows the injustice to live on unchecked. This site was established to expose the malevolent scheme against him with the hopes of raising awareness of the injustices he and others like him have faced.