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.