The Center

The Center for the Global Study of Wrongful Conviction at the University of Cincinnati College of Law was created to facilitate and enhance awareness and activism surrounding the problem of wrongful conviction of the innocent around the world.  To achieve this goal, the Center will strive to:

  • Provide content for the Wrongful Convictions Blog, the goals of which are outlined here;
  • Enhance network-building and the sharing of ideas and tools among scholars and activists, in various parts of the world, attempting to combat the scourge of wrongful conviction of the innocent;
  •  Nurture the growth of attorneys or organizations who are armed to fight wrongful convictions by appropriate means in their particular legal and political environment;
  • Assist with funding or locating funding for strategic and impactful scholarship and research on wrongful convictions in areas of the world in need of inquiry on this topic;
  • Assist with funding or locating funding for strategic and impactful international conferences on wrongful conviction.

To inquire, contact Center Director Mark Godsey

17 responses to “The Center

  1. My husband is a registered sex offender. He was falsely accused in 1984, took a plea and received 5 years probation. In 2010, he was told he was required to register. We hired an attorney and private detective to try and take his accusers back to court to clear his name. The attorney and private detective were of no help to us, and did nothing to help his case. I started researching his accusers and found many other people they and their children and their children had accused of child molestation. I also found that their stepfather had just been sentenced to 60 years for molesting one of his granddaughters(original accusers children) and I found another man(original accusers husband) who was in jail awaiting trial on the same type of charge. That man had been in jail awaiting trial for 4 years. I got in contact with his parents and his attorney. I urged them to tell him not to take a plea. The prosecution was offering 25 years if he took their plea. The day the jury was being picked this mans attorney asked me if I would speak with the prosecutor for this case. I reluctantly did. Unknown to us the prosecution offered probation at the last minute and gave him 5 minutes to decide. The attorney told him nothing about the registry for life, or the treatments for 10 years. The prosecution also told him they were trying him on the least serious case first, and that if the jury found him not guilty on that one they would then go forward with the most serious case which carried multiple life sentences. The prosecution was well aware of all the past allegations of child molestation from his accusers, and still would not drop the charges, it was clear to me at that point they are completely corrupted and so was his court appointed attorney. I was so sure that finally after all these years and all of this familys trail of destruction that they would be forced to admit it under oath, but that did not happen. Please help me stop these people and show someone who is honest in the judicial system what they have been doing for nearly 30 years, Our ultimate goal is to clear my husbands name and all the others these people have caused so much misery to for no good reason.

    • Virginia Robinson

      Cindy, my son is in the same situation. A history of the family sending men to prison based on lies. My son was the second of four who have been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. (The woman dropped the charges against one man when he bought her a new pickup, and would have dropped the charges against my son if I had given her an acre of land and a house trailer on my property. Only I was not allowed to testify in court, but the judge asked my son 6 times at the end of the trial if he owned the land where his trailer sat. Good thing he didn’t or the judge would have given it to the woman.) The fifth man convicted, it turns out, was the one who actually molested the child. The man was the child’s grandmother’s boyfriend. The victim statement, where the child and her brother both names this man, was withheld at my son’s trial. Not only was it withheld from the jury, it was withheld from my son. The judge knew about this statement. The prosecutor had a copy of it, as did the sheriff department. The story changed, after the fact, to meet the statement of the facts, plus the false statement of the molestation of the child. (Seems this is normal procedure in the court system.) We were only given a partial statement from the children before the trial…and when we tried to tell the appointed lawyer that none of the fact fit – the location, the vehicle, the name – he said that information was irrelevant. At the trial it was obvious that the children had been told want to say. Both stated my son had done nothing. Under duress, the little girl would only say, “He went further.” That was after stating that he had done nothing. The “witness” stated nothing happened. The judge then ordered the jury to return a guilty verdict….which they naturally did since the truth was withheld from them.

      It was only in working up an appeal…which I did myself…that the information surfaced that someone else was named. I started digging to discover that the man the children named was convicted six months after my son, based on the information that was given to the prosecutor in my son’s case. When I talked to the prosecutor, he told me that they knew my son was innocent at the time of the trial, but they did their job and got a conviction and if I did not like it, I could hire a lawyer and get the case thrown out!!!! Oh to have $200,000!!!! One thing my call to the prosecutor did do…it saved yet another innocent man. About a week after my call, the mother again accused her latest ex-boyfriend. The prosecutor remembered my phone call and refused to go forward with the case.

      Oh, I forgot to mention – at the time of my son’s trial, the judge and the children’s grandmother were, according to her, “involved”. The chief investigator was related to us by marriage…he was the uncle of my youngest son’s ex-wife and we were later told he bragged that he had gotten even for the marriage ending. According to the woman, she was “close” to him. Both of these men are married, but with these women, marriage doesn’t matter.

      The result of the appeal came back that it was neither unconstitutional nor unethical to withhold evidence that would prove a person innocent. Even I know that it not so. And the lawyer’s secretary that sent the documents to me? She was fired for doing so. We were never suppose to have seen those documents.

      The last appeal has just been turned down. The supreme court asked for copies of the documentation. When they were sent those copies, the attorney general stated that the document violated confidentiality rules because it named the victim and the witness – admitting that they are incapable of dealing with confidential information. (I sent copies with the appeal, with the names removed and THEY requested a copy of the original document.)

      The bottom line is, the appeal was rejected because the attorney general’s office does not want to admit this was a wrongful conviction. No one wants to help correct this wrong. No one cares how many other men this woman, by using her child, has destroyed. An innocent man is in his 7th year of 25 year sentence (because he would not admit and accept a guilty plea for a 5 year sentence).

      I will never stop saying my son is innocent and every time I hear of yet another man accused by this woman, I will be speaking out for him. (Just because she was stopped the last time does not mean she will not do this same thing again.) I cannot help my son, but maybe I can prevent this woman from destroying any more lives.

      I wish you luck in your case. Unfortunately, unless you have a bunch of money, or can wade through the so called justice system yourself, there is not much hope of proving his innocence because no lawyer will touch it. No lawyer wants to prove another lawyer did not do their job because it could happen to them next.

      One thing I have learned through this. There is no justice in the so called justice system…especially in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

    • I feel so much sympathy for all those in these situations, as my husband is in a similar situation. What organization can help?

  2. Pingback: Blawg Review #323 – Memorial Day, the Rule of Law, & Human Rights. | Wrongful Convictions Blog

  3. My brother is being wrongfully accused of child molestation by a vindictive ex-girlfriend. Is there anyone in the columbia county Appling Georgia area that will go talk to my brother. His name is Mark Yelton and he has no lawyer and has been sitting for at least 6 weeks.

  4. My 24 yr old son is currently being held in Arkansas on capital murder in the death of a child, due to ‘tunnel vision’ of the detective and a false confession my son made to the detective. There is physical proof showing another suspect. A 3rd party approached the detective, DHS, and Arkansas State Police Detective and the proof was refused by all agencies. The detective even told the 3rd party, “If it is not about (My son) then I do not want to see it. I want an open and shut case on (my son).!” The attorney’s on my son’s case are over-worked, aggressive with our family, and have not been interested in getting any expert witnesses to testify on my son’s behalf. They want him to agree to a plea bargain and told us that he would be exonerated on the appeal. The private investigator, who at one time was an attorney, that is working on my son’s case was arrested by the FBI and was charged with allowing cocaine to be sold out of his law office to a client and his secretary. He is a federal felon that now works as a realtor and works for the Arkansas Public Defender’s Commission on Capital Punishment and Conflicts. The last time we saw the attorney’s was at the last status hearing on Feb. 25, 2013. They have not kept my son or our family informed of anything. We are at a loss and do not know what to do at this point. I can not find any organizations that will advise or help us. I have contacted several attorney’s here in Arkansas and all of them tell me that they want $100,000 to $150,000 to even take my son’s case. We are an indigent family and at the time of my son’s arrest he was working 2 jobs to make ends meet. Our life has been blown apart from the inside. My son has no history of violence, no child abuse reports, no anger issues at all. The other party that the physical proof shows possible guilt is the mother of the child that my son is accused of harming that resulted in the child’s death. She has had numerous child neglect/abuse cases open on her. The county health department even called. The abuse ranged from bruises, black and swollen eyes, red scratches all over the children’s bodies, burns from grease and a cigarette, neglect, busted lips, medical care neglect, the list goes on and on. Please contact me and help. My son is innocent and the mother of the child is being protected due to her family’s monetary status and their connections to the local government and law enforcement. My son is innocent and I just need help proving it because his ‘legal team’ is not interested in doing it. I feel that in a capital murder cases where the state is seeking the death penalty, that the defendant needs and deserves the best legal defense if they are rich or poor. Death is a finality. Sitting on death row until an appeal is accepted or denied, is costly. Why allow someone to sit and make tax payers fork at all that money when their innocence can be proven in the first hearing? Actually, if the detective would have accepted the physical evidence in my son’s case in the beginning, we would not be going through this utter nightmare. Please help or refer me to an organization that helps indigent defendants PRE-conviction. Thank you for all the work that your organization does. Respectfully, A mother of an innocent man

  5. I just spent 10 years in prison I receive public assistance but not enough to properly help myself and/or two children. Does any organization donate money do that I may buy clothes to go out on interviews and/or supply household items. Please advise thanking you in advance.

    Very truly

    Aj nash

  6. Here is a case where a Innocent Man was convicted of Indecent Liberties with a Minor and the State used the Intimidation of a Witness charge to cover up his recantation. Here is the most shocking, corrupt case you have ever come across. I have recently come across some court papers and a couple of them are on my website for your review. It is http://www.falseconvictions.com or http://www.iwasfalselyconvicted.com. I have web blogs too. Just click on blogs to leave comments. I also have started a petition drive. Click on Petitions to sign my petitions. This case is so proveable that I am innocent. The first document is a letter given to the judge at my sentencing. This letter states, My son Jeffrey feels like he was wrong. That is the child that confessed. The other document is even more disturbing. My own lawyer hid the childs confession from the jury. I hope that someone out there will take my case. I have done 100 percent of my sentence, however, I am not guilty of any of this. My counsel was a former district court judge in the same courthouse I was convicted in and knew everybody. During the MAR, you can see for yourself on the confession tab where my lawyer admitted on the stand that he did not use the tape because he thought that it was manufactured evidence. To the contrary. The Victim Impact statement proves otherwise. The boys mother even admitted that her own son felt like he was wrong. Someone out there, please help me fight this injustice. I will not give up until this case is heard in court.

    • Clothes for job interview

      Open and frequent communication between members of the Primary Investigative Team is crucial. Information obtained during the CPS investigation should be fully disclosed to law enforcement and the Commonwealth’s attorney. The full disclosure of information includes evidence that supports and refutes the allegations and information about all contacts with victims, caretakers and collateral witnesses.
      The Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator is a member of the team assigned or elected to perform certain duties as described below to ensure open and regular communication and active coordination of activities central to MDT functioning.

      3

      Once your lawyer has all the papers, the next step is to
      study them for possible legal errors or mistakes. For
      example, a common legal mistake in a jury trial involves evidence that the judge let the jury hear or evidence that
      the judge would not let the jury hear. Another example is
      a mistake in the way the judge
      instructed the jury. Your
      lawyer will make a list of these possible mistakes in the record. This list is called the “assignments of error.” ARemember that your lawyer is looking
      only for legal errors in your trial
      . Your lawyer is not looking for
      places where a witness made a mistake or
      got the facts wrong about what happene
      d. For example, your lawyer can’t
      argue in your appeal that a witness lied
      to the jury about something important. In our system, trial judges and juries
      get to decide who told the truth in court and what the true
      facts are. As long as the ev
      idence the judge or jury heard
      was proper, the appeals courts have to go by whatever the
      judge or jury decided about th
      e facts. The appeals court
      won’t change fact decisions.
      Also, your appeal probably won’t be about mistakes made by your trial lawyer. When a lawyer makes an
      unreasonable mistake in a trial and that
      mistake probably made a difference in how the trial came out, the lawyer’s
      unreasonable mistake is called “ineffective
      assistance of counsel,” or “IAC.” It
      is almost always impossible for an
      appeals
      court to decide whether or not wh
      at a lawyer did was IAC. The app
      eals court does not know why the lawyer
      did what he or she did, and what difference it would have made if the lawyer had handled things differently. If what
      the lawyer did was part of a reasonable plan, the court probably won’t find IAC, even though the plan did not work
      like the lawyer wanted it to.
      Evidence about why a lawyer did or did not do something and about what difference it
      made is almost never found in the transcript or the court papers.
      Evidence about a lawyer’s
      decisions has to come
      from new witnesses or other new evidence, like the lawyer testifying about why he or she did or did not do
      something. Your appeal lawyer can’t call witnesses or
      introduce new evidence about IA
      C (or anything else). The
      only evidence that counts in an
      appeal is the evidence that the judge or jury heard (or that the judge refused to listen
      to or let the jury consider).

      7

      9.
      HOW MUCH WILL MY APPEAL COST?
      You do not have to pay for your lawyer at the beginning of your appeal. However, your lawyer’s work is
      not free. Unless you win all of the issues your lawyer argues in the appellate courts, a document called a lien will be
      filed against you in trial court. The lien tells how much the state government paid your lawyer to work on your
      appeal. Currently, that amount is $65.00 per hour. When the government files a lien in your case, it means you owe
      the government the amount of money it paid your lawyer. The lien lasts for at least ten years. The state can collect
      the money you owe for your appeal. Usually, the money comes from your state income tax refunds or work release
      earnings.

      http://www.ncids.org/Rules%20&%20Procedures/Policies%20By%20Case%20Type/Non-Cap-Non-CriminalAppeals/AppellateGuide_English.pdf

  7. Virginia Robinson

    I know exactly what you feel like. My son was falsely accused by his exgirlfriend and wrongfully convicted by a jury who was not even made up on one of his peers (which according to everyone is irrelevant), but the statement of the victim and the witness naming SOMEONE ELSE at the only interview of them that their mother was NOT present was withheld not only from the jury, but form my son. This information was withheld by his own attorney (he was not given a copy of this statement at the time of the trial…in fact if the secretary who mailed the information in his file for purpose of appeal had not made a mistake that cost her her job and sent this document to us, my son would still not have this information). His own attorney asked the court to withhold the statement (The court denied this request so the lawyer simply did not present the victim statement to the court.), the prosecutor has since stated that they knew my son was innocent, but they did their job and got a conviction and if I do not like the verdict I could always hire a lawyer and get this overturned….anyone willing to give me 250,000 dollars necessary to pay the only lawyer even willing to look at this case up front? (I thought not.) The sheriff department also had this information and never looked into it in this case. (The investigator was related through a failed marriage of my youngest son and his niece and has sworn to “get even” – which he did in pushing for the conviction of my oldest son.) The judge was well aware of this statement by the child also. (The judge was one of the grandmothers boyfriends. I need say no more on that subject.)

    The post conviction collateral relief appeal came back that it is neither unconstitutional nor unethical to withhold information by a victim that proves the accused innocent.

    The appeal to the state supreme court has come back that the time for the appeal has run out – even though is had been less than a year after getting this information that the appeal to them was filed, considering the “clock stopping” while the post conviction collateral relief appeal was being heard. They are also saying there is no proof that my son’s lawyer did not give us this statement at the time of the trial. (The fact that the only information we had was that the witness to the incident described a house, a vehicle, and used a nick name for the perpetrator of the rape that was totally different to anything that concerned by son, that the witness actually described a rape, and that my son’s lawyer stated to us that it did not matter that the witness gave this information that did not fit the situation the mother was claiming is, as far as the supreme court is concerned, totally irrelevant.)

    My son’s lawyer refused to allow me to testify to a threat made to me by the exgirlfriend just the day before she made this false accusation about my son. He said the woman would only deny it and it was nor relevant to the case. Since she did exactly what she threatened, then it seems to me that it would be considered relevant.

    My son’s lawyer refused to make a point that the victim and the witness told a totally different story in court than they did at the first several interviews. Many months had passed since the false accusation and the trial. There was plenty of time to teach the victim and the witness (who were young children at the time) what they needed to say so their “story” would match that of the statement repeatedly made by my son.

    Just a small problem for me is the fact that the judge allowed the victim to sit in her grandmother’s lap during her testifying, at the demand of the grandmother. Past interaction between the child and the grandmother proved the child was scared of the grandmother and I had personally seen abuse by the grandmother toward this child. The grandmother had total control over the child and what the child said during her testimony.

    My son’s attorney also refused to have medical professionals to testify that the human body does not receive injury, heal, and scare within three days. The “victim” had evidence that she had, in fact, been raped at some distant point in the past.

    And let us not forget that the witness stated in court that nothing happened involving my son. Also, the victim had obviously been tutored as to what to say a she answered all questions with “he went further” and never stated what he supposedly did. She too stated he only gave her a bath.

    And the clincher to the whole thing – the person the victim and the witness named at their first interview was tried and convicted six months after my son was wrongfully convicted. He was an exboyfriend of the grandmother and admitted the rape. The statement of the victim and the witness was the basis of the case against him. He was convicted six months after my son, in the same court, with the same prosecutor, and the same defending lawyer, and the same judge as my son had. He admitted having raped the child. Since he died in prison, the state supreme court says this is irrelevant.

    Let me state here that we live in a different county, so we were not aware of this information until I started digging deeper into this for the purpose of the appeals I am doing on behalf of my son.

    My son, I later found out, was the second of at least four other men this woman has accused of molesting her children. The first one admitted to spanking the son and spent five years in prison. Then my son’s case. About a year later, the woman accused another man. She dropped the charges when he bought her a brand new pickup. (She would have dropped the charges against my son if I had given her an acre of my land to live on.) And then the fourth man was accused just a week after I had talked to the prosecutor regarding my son’s case…a little over a year ago. While I cannot seem to be of help to my own innocent son, I did prevent another mother’s son from becoming a victim of this family. Due to my reminding the prosecutor of the history of this family, he refused to go forward with the false accusations against yet another man.

    Now, if I, with no legal knowledge, and no police background, can find out this information about this case, why did those who falsely convicted my son not do their job and go after the one who actually committed the crime before destroying my family?

    I fully understand that no lawyer in the land wants to prove another lawyer, a judge, and a police force are all corrupt and at the very least vindictive. Besides, I also know that all the lawyers would then go after him and he would be in lots of hot water for any skeletons in his closet. (This judge, in the past, has been found guilty of wrongful actions in court but has never been removed from the bench by the courts.) After all, no lawyer wants to be the one who proves another did not do his job, even when protecting the innocent is THEIR job! BUT, due to the policy of protecting the judges and lawyers at all costs, my innocent son is spending his life in prison …. for giving a child a bath. (A child, I might add, he had bathed her whole life as her mother and grandmother were too lazy to take care of these chores. The mother had dropped the child at my son’s house, as was her normal action, on his days off from work, so she could run the street without having to deal with her children. No one knew where she was for three days until she called and told my son she was going to be gone yet another day. When she did not get her way in her attempted blackmail of me, she proved her final statement to me – “You’ll be sorry” and falsely accused my son the next day.)

    I pray that someone will see this and be willing to help free my innocent son. But I do not hold out much hope at this point. after all, my son has been in prison for 7 years already, and no one has been willing to even look at his case. So it is up to me. Law school is looking more and more like the only option.

  8. My brother who been wrongfully convicted back in July 2008 for 3 counts cruelty to children. My brother who is mentally disabled has been taken advantage of they built a case against my brother. They took a charged that was dismissed and charge him with one of the counts with cruelty to children. They gave my brother 10 years- 5 years to served and 5 years probation/parole. My brother got released in November 2011 but has been having a hard time since his release because of his conviction. I been trying and trying to help prove my brother innocence and no one seems to want to touch this case after they look at the case. They have stated the case was a mess and refer me from lawyer to lawyer and because of it taking place in 2008 no one seems to once to go back that far. I am really disturbed because I am still trying to prove my brother innocence and he can have his life back

    • son bathing a stranger

      better yet why dont you help him move forward instead of trying to prove he is innocent for a crime he already spent 5 years in prison for. you could just easily lose again and gain even more prison time not to mention drag him through all taht sorry business again. if you have evidence of wrongdoign then use it to file a civil suit or something also you need someone to express the situation for you better than you do perhaps you coudl appeal to someone who read this if you ahd included the specific of your brothers situation instead of the generalities. perhaps tell your story to a college student majoring in journalism or something to get a better wriittten narrative of this story you are so passionate about and then start posting it and sharing it everywhere..perhaps then it will tug at someone’s heart strings and tehy will want to help you. otherwise…learn to move forward as a convicted offender now paroled….find your way around that world …instead of trying to go back and tackle another hard arena of overtunring a conviction. One path at this point is just as difficult as the other one but at least on this one you are moving forward and pat the sorry event….and forward into life and hope and future without going through or down that road again.

  9. son bathing a stranger

    Well for one thing it is illegal to file false charges. So since you seem to have so much information regarding this woman basically using these allegations for financial/material gains then I would work up a case against her…..then probably for yourself or in conjunction with all the other witnesses perhaps, bring a charge against her to the prosecuting attorney. If he took the case, great. Then I would use the information that resulted from that to stir up a lot of publicity, bring out a lawyer that will try to get him a pardon or new trial or something pro bono…And lastly, I would use the information against her to file a civil suit for punitive damages. Or lastly, if she can still be bought have her come forward wtih new evidence that they had mistakenly accused him of a crime he didnt’ commit. Sign over all your acres of land. Or singn them over to a lawyer who will fight to get him a new trial or to a close friend of the governor to get a pardon. I think i would quit trying to retry the old case, and find new angles of beating them at their own game. If th e prosecutor said that why can’t you get him on a wire tap oor something. Bust out the curruption,b ring it to the forefront and get it national and local headline attention. Or, better yet maybe you should have todl your son it isnt’ prpoer for a non blood male to bathe a woman’s girl child ..ecspecailly one who just drops her off and leaves her there…he should have realized it was trouble and called child protective services on her for neglect and abandonment rather than bathe the child as a normal chore for a non-relative of the opposite sex…it would be better to have been dirty than to have been bathed by a fella who was just one of many men my mom would dump me off with and leave me with in my childhood years. And the grandmother isn’t in control of the child…sounds liek she loves her…but grandparents rights are as limiited as the sorry moma’s want them to be….pretty much the truth unless you can afford to pursue your rights in a court of law.

  10. Virginia Robinson

    Let me say this…my son had raised this child for almost all her life. He was the father figure in the family. He gave that child every bath she ever received. (This was not a case of this being the first time he bathed her nor the first time she spent the night at his home.) Yes, hind sight is 20/20 and when the mother called and told him the child needed, once again, to spend the night at his home, he should have called the welfare department on her. But he didn’t. Nothing can change that. As for signing over my home…then I would be homeless. Besides, the value of my home would only get a couple hours at what the lawyers have told me it will cost to get this overturned.

    And yes, it is illegal to make false charges. It is also illegal for all involved to follow through with a case when all evidence….including “victim” statements state the person is innocent. But, something being illegal has yet to stop this from happening. I will ask you to do one thing. Look up Philadelphia, Mississippi and all of the investigations by federal people into the so called justice system and the judges there. Then maybe you will understand what my son is facing.

    As for letting it drop…won’t happen as long as he wants to fight it. He is the one pushing to fight it…not me. While I am vocal about his being innocent, there is not much I can physically do to help him…other than type up all the forms to fight it through the appeal process.

  11. Please allow me to tell you my own horror story.

    In December of 2006, I gave shelter to a guy I who was on the streets. Not to sound Edgar Allan Poe, but it was a dark and stormy night, and he was standing out on the patio of the bookstore my mother and I frequented, wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. When I asked him why he was on the streets, he told me he did not get along with his step-father, and so when he turned eighteen, his step-father threw him out, same day – zero warning. Having had a bitter relationship with my own father, I found his story to be plausable. I felt compelled to offer him shelter until the current storm passed.

    The young man, named Kurth, slept on a sofa, in a spare room which we used for storing tote boxes, etc. Within a few days, he was gone again. I was later told that his story was a lie, and that he was actually a sixteen year old runaway from a group home for juvenile sex offenders (where he was placed after raping his five year old, female cousin). Suffice to say I was creeped out.

    Six months later, the local police raided my home, siezing my computer, etc., and took me into custody for child molestation. I was told Kurth had accused me of sexually abusing him.

    Three days later, I was released. The D.A. had chosen to not pick up the charges. I was told it was because my accuser had recanted.

    Returning home, I discovered my room mate, named Steven, had suddenly moved out while I was in custody.

    A month later, my accuser ran away from his group home again, and showed up on my doorstep. I ordered him off my property. I wanted to call the police, but I was afraid to.

    A few days later, he made a video, which he placed on YouTube, Yahoo Video, and I don’t know how many other video hosting sites, recanting again. Within a few days he was back in custody, and returned to his group home.

    Then, in January of 2008, I was re-arrested. The D.A. had chosen to pick up the charges, despite my accuser recanting over and over again – and in public forum – and they added charges of child pornography, too. I was at first baffled by the child porn charges, until it was explained to me that, during the search of my home, the police had found a CD, containing lewd images of a prepubescent girl. The disk was labelled as belonging to the room mate who had moved out while I was in custody, but I was being charged for it. I will explain what I know about this a bit later.

    I was first placed into a sixteen man “tank”. The following morning my story made front page of our local newspaper, and I was beaten down savagely.

    I was then placed into a two man cell with a violent, mentally ill creep who bullied me contantly, and tried to rape me several times.

    To further explain my state of mind during this time, I should point out that I was my disabled mother’s only care provider. We could not afford the cost of my calling home, nor could she have figured out how to create the account needed for me to do so, if we could (she has a limited ability to understand certain things). What’s more, because she had broken her arm a couple years earlier, and it never quite healed properly, she could not write to me. I was worried sick about my mother. Were the bills being paid? Was she eating? She had no transportation aside from her wheelchair, and didn’t not know her way around, so did she even have food!? We lived in a bad neighborhood, which added even more horrific thoughts to my head. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I lived in constant fear of the next attack by my mentally ill cellmate. It didn’t take long before I was a mess mentally.

    I had been appointed a conflict attorney by the Court. Although I came to realize this myself, it was later confirmed to me (by other attornies here, locally) that he is notorious as being a disinterested, ineffectual plea bargain broker, and that, while unpopular among defense attornies, he is loved by prosecutors.

    While in custody, awaiting trial, I made every attempt to have conversation with my attorney, Greg Blevins. In the minutes prior to each hearing, I begged him to come out to the jail to interview me. At least three times he assured me he would “sometime this week”, but he never did. I desperately wanted to know where I stood. As the matter of my room mate’s disk had not yet been explained to me, I wanted to know where these charges had come from. Was child pornography actually found on my computer? If so, what kind? Pictures? Video? Heterosexual? Homosexual? Our local newspaper later reported “some porn charges dropped”. Really? Which charges? What exactly was I fighting? What were my chances? Prior to my January rearrest, several people had told me that they were going to write witness declarations, offering their contact information and testimony. Had they done so? I wanted to actively participate in my own defense. But my attorney gave me nothing. I wanted my side of this nightmare to be heard, but even my own attorney refused to listen. Prior to several hearings, my attorney came to me telling me that we would again need to ask for a continuance for this reason or that. It was mostly because my accuser had run away yet again. Each time I protested. Each time he told me we had no choice.

    The one time I was allowed an actual sit down conversation with my attorney in the jury deliberation room, I tried to ask my questions. All he would say is that child pornography had been found. He would not elaborate. Instead, he introduced me to our investigator. I asked both to answer my questions, and to hear my side of the story, but they refused. The meeting was wasted, another continuance was granted and I again returned to my cell, hopes crushed and frustrated.

    By the time of the hearing date in which I accepted the plea agreement I was emotionally broken. I had given up all hope of seeing my family – especially my mother – again. I had given up on everything. I no longer cared what the system did to me. It was on this morning, minutes before court, that my attorney came to me with a huge smile, and whispered “you’re going home today”. I cannot put my thoughts, nor my feelings into words. Nor can I remember the details of the hearing that day. After months of isolation, beatings, humiliation, attempted rape and a level of anxiety I can only describe as torture, I heard the words “you’re going home today”. It repeated itself over and over in my head, and drowned out anything else I tried to focus on. I do know that, they ended up dropping all eleven of the child pornography charges, and that I had accepted a felony charge of 647.6(a). Because of the many conversations I had had with other inmates, I at least had the presence of mind to insist on a People v. West plea.

    I was released on my own recognisance, and given a remand date. It wasn’t until I was out of custody that a first-year law student friend of mine, and I, finally got access to my case file.

    I was especially interested in reading about the child pornography charges. It struck me as odd that the the detective in charge of the case, Detective Houser, would claim the disk was mine because…
    * The disk was found in a common room of the home I shared with Steven at the time.
    * The disk was clearly labeled as belonging to Steven, not me.
    * Although not known to me until much later, forensics clearly showed the images were downloaded onto Steven’s computer, not mine.
    * Also found on the disk were Steven’s homework, his family photos, and his music collection. I believe his resume was also on the disk. Nothing on the disk had anything to do with me.
    * Also not known to me until much later, Steven acknowledged ownership of his disk, only recanting after Detective Houser told him he could be arrested if he did acknowledge ownership. This is in the police report.
    I believe the logic behind this to have been made clear when it was later brought to my attention that as a teenage boy, Steven was then-Officer Houser’s “ride-along” companion. I feel Detective Houser’s actions were clearly prejudiced by their pre-existing relationship.
    * There is also the fact that these images were of an underage girl. I AM A HOMOSEXUAL.

    We found many other flaws in the case, but it was already beyond the time for filing an appeal.

    After my accuser turned eighteen, he filed a document with the Court, again recanting. This time, however, he explained his actions, and accused the lead detective of witness intimidation, and even battery. We tried to file a Writ of Coram Nobis, based mostly on this new evidence, but the judge denied it without explanation.

    After being released from custody, I was forced to participate in a sex offender treatment program (which I, of course, was forced to pay for). A couple years later, some new law invalidated the program, and I was ordered to participate in a second program (again, at my expense) – this because the first was run by interns. The new law demanded an actual licensed psychologist run it.

    I am now on Megan’s Law, and so my reputation is ruined. I am now shunned by family, neighbors, and once-friends. My mother is even shunned for standing by me. I have been discriminated against in every aspect of life – especially employment. The only job I could find after all of this was as a driver/bouncer for a stripper company. I had to leave that in March of 2013, because my car finally died, and I cannot afford to replace it. I’ve been looking for work since. I was once an avid and popular renaissance faire enthusiest. I loved faire. Faire was my life. But now I’m persona non grata. I can’t even pay to attend, much less participate. I am blessed with a landlord who believes in me, but our home has been vandalized many times because of this case. My car has also been vandalized. I am barred from certain local shops and stores. I have had my food grossly contaminated at a local fast food resturant. I have been VIOLENTLY attacked more times than I can count. My disabled, wheelchair bound mother has even been attacked! We have had pets brutally killed. The local police have made it very clear that I deserve everything I get, and that they have no intention of doing anything about any of it…and so far, they haven’t.

    A couple years ago, against my better judgement, I became a witness in a gang murder case (an Asian Crip murdered an Hispanic Blood). The lead detective in the case told me that my family and I would have to go into witness relocation. For months he flowered us with assurances that we would be relocated, and even asked me to do some of my own research in choosing a “Point B”. He told me that I would still have to register, but I would be taken off the public Magan’s Law database. As soon as I was subpeona, however, the D.A. pulled it all out from under me. I’m a 290 – a registered sex offender. I get nothing. I was told if I didn’t want to get involved, I should have kept my mouth shut. As it was, I was subpeonaed. They threatened that If I refused to testify, they would violate my felony probation, and send me to prison. “Then who’s going to be there to protect your mom?” They told me if I’m afraid, I should simply learn to lay low and keep my curtains closed. If they do come after us, I should just call 9-1-1. So now I live in constant fear of this, too.

    I contacted the Innocence Project about a year and a half ago, and even submitted an intake packet. Unfortunately, they cannot help me, as they have limited resources, and work to free the wrongfully accused who now rot in prison. I am not in custody.

    I live every moment of my life under terrible stress. I live in so much fear. Sleep is not my friend. I have trouble getting to sleep, for fear that I will be awakened by the police coming for me yet again – or the gang members I testified against – or even some new nightmare. I wake with nausea every day – EVERY DAY. I have trouble making eye contact with anyone anymore. Every time I see a police car, I am filled with dread and hatred. I’m easily startled, and I simply cannot watch high stress television shows, or movies. I recognize that I suffer from PTSD, and am working toward finding treatment. Unfortunately, I have become very distrustful, and find it difficult to open up to anyone about my feelings and fears.

    All of this being said, if anyone knows of a group like the Innocence Project, who would help me pro bono, I would really, really appreciate a referral.

  12. This is very sad and unfortunate. I hope justice will be served.

  13. PAMELA Johnston

    My son is serving 10 years in prison 28 probation and being registered as a sex offender and this first offense and we the family can prove his incidents and he wuz 17 @ time of arrest help us please

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