originally posted 8/25/2009
The registry, more than the original offense, is why my son is incarcerated today. False accusations exist more than most people would believe.
In 1998, my son K pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl. It was an Alford plea, meaning that while he maintained his innocence, it was believed that the state had enough evidence to convict him at a trial. The plea was agreed to during a 15-minute meeting with K’s- then-attorney, Warren Brown, as the trial deadline loomed. K had terrible legal representation.
The nature and consequences of taking an Alford plea were not explained to us or understood by us. When I suggested “maybe we should think about it…”, the lawyer got up from his seat very angrily and said in a belligerent way “well, alright then, we’ll go to trial”. This was, believe me, very frightening. He also never told my son or me that it was the same as being guilty in the eyes of the community.
Under the terms of the plea, K, who was originally charged with second-degree rape and second- and third-degree sex offenses, had the more serious charges dropped and received no jail time. But his name, picture, and current address went up on the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.
K served a 3 year sentence in a Maryland prison for the misdemeanor of being days late in registering a change of address. While he was out on parole, he made the mistake of going to a snowball stand, staying too long and being recognized as a person on the registry. Baltimore City Paper did the only objective story on this called “The Boogieman of Roland Park” in August, 2007. His attorney said K was put in prison for a “thought crime”, not for something he actually did, because he did nothing wrong. The hysteria in the Baltimore media and the sex offender laws ensured he would return to prison.
My son never had more than a traffic ticket when this happened. The child who accused him came from a horrific family in one of Baltimore’s worst neighborhoods. She subsequently contradicted much of what she originally reported about my son. She bragged on tape that she used to lie all the time when she was a child and even believed her own lies. At the end of one of the early tapes she said, almost incidentally, that my son raped her “but he didn’t hurt me”. Then, after hesitating, she said “but I don’t like to talk about it”. This, plus her remark about “lying all the time”, was what made me believe she might eventually tell the truth.
Today, K lives in self-imposed exile. He does not want any additional funds spent on attorneys because he feels they have failed him. This is mostly true, though at least one did try very hard to get Ken exonerated. The strong deposition given by the girl who recanted appeared to be the evidence needed to begin to overturn his plea. But the appeal was denied. K, innocent and mentally ill, is still on the Maryland registry.