Exoneration of the day - Two Adults Wrongly Sent to Prison Over Child Sex Ring

Posted By Imhoff & Associates || 9-Nov-2016

A police department in Ohio began investigation allegations of child molestation in a low-income housing project. The investigation began after a resident of the complex reported that several neighborhood children had engaged in sexual activities with each other. She stated that her 6 year old daughter, along with three 5 year olds, had been forced to engage in sexual activities with two boys. The boys were age 7 and 4.

After the police conducted their initial investigation, including interviewing the children, parents and neighbors, they came to the conclusion that a total of 22 different children were victims and a number of parents were allegedly involved in getting children to engage with sex with each other.

Children named adults alleging the adults were taking photographs of children performing sex. The police concluded that two adults were responsible for the children having sex with each other and believed these two adults were molesting the children as well. After a search of the apartment complex, all adults except two were dropped from the investigation.

The police used tactics to coerce the children to implicate the adults including locking them up in juvenile detention center for charges of rape until they cooperated. This lead to charges against two of the adults including 2 counts of forcible rape of a child under 13 years old and 3 counts of gross sexual imposition of a child under 3 years old with threats to cause physical harm.

Only two adults were charged and convicted on all counts, receiving a sentence of life in prison, even though the children were not pursued for any charges because they had conflicting statements with each other and due to their young age. Soon after some of the children recanted their testimony and said they were being coerced by the police to falsely testify against the two adults.

A post-conviction hearing was held, where the children recanted on the witness stand. Further, lawyers for the defendants showed how exculpatory statements of the alleged victims had been sanitized from police reports by the prosecution before the information was given to the defense.

The two adults were granted a new trial because of the failure to turn over exculpatory evidence and the recantations. They were released that day from prison. The state appealed and the order granting a new trial was upheld. The state then dismissed the charges.

https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=2987

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