My son was falsely accused of molesting his 19 month old daughter in September 2010. The accuser was his ex-wife, a somewhat mentally impaired individual with whom he was living. He had just landed a good job and was taking care of her and their 2 small children. He was arrested at his workplace, taken out in handcuffs. During his interrogation the investigator asked him about the other incidents of which the accuser had accused him. Being naïve he didn’t know about this interrogation technique and volunteered that maybe his ex was speaking of an incident 10 months prior when his daughter was 9 months old, in which he was caught by his ex in a compromising situation; watching an adult dvd and doing what many young men do secretly (but usually without getting caught). The baby was playing with toys in the kitchen; my son was in the living room, out of view of the kitchen. This resulted in a Second charge of Vicarious Sexual Gratification. When the ex was asked about this incident, at first she didn’t even remember it, but eventually acknowledged it.
I have since learned that she was angry that she did not have enough time for herself and her friends because my son was working long hours and was unable to watch the children. She also did not like living in their town while her friends lived in a nearby town. This had also caused arguments. The woman has since admitted that this was the root cause of this ordeal.
I do not want to go into a lot of detail about her family but I will say that it consisted of domineering middle to old aged women, with no men in the family. The younger of the family all have significant criminal records. They had dominant control over the ex (she feared them) and they very much disliked my son. She reported at one point that they even produced a large hand gun to make their point, (the Defender heard about this but seemed indifferent). This became an issue when the ex wanted to recant, but was threatened by the family. I even heard the eldest (the matriarch so to speak) of the women state, “I would be willing to drop this whole thing if (he) would give up is parental rights and sign the children over to me.” This struck me since she was not even a party to this. Not a state’s witness. How could She “drop this whole thing?” She seemed to be the one in charge.
The ex also feared the Prosecutor who was very belligerent to her threatened her with jail time if she had any thoughts about recanting.
During this time I was financially unable to retain counsel for my son. My company was in bankruptcy and I feared losing my Job at any time. My son had to go with a public defender. I will regret that (not finding a way) for the rest of my life. In the initial hearing the Defender tried to be excused from the case but was denied. It was obvious he did not want this case. The case had NO evidence, only the initial report. The child had been examined with nothing found. The Defender admitted it was a Very weak case. I thought it Very strange that the Defender did not investigate the credibility of the witness as Any kind of psychological profile would have exposed very much. We had (and still have) many exonerating text messages, Facebook entries, and other items from her that the Defender was not interested in pursuing. She even had a criminal record and my son’s record was clean. We met maybe once a month for a year, to discuss the case. It became obvious that the defender was just pursuing a plea deal, always bringing up the fact that my son was looking at 20 years in prison, just on the first charge. I found later that our Defender was a former Deputy Prosecutor for the same court, and a personal friend of the Prosecuting Attorney.
At one point I arrived at the Defender’s office, my son drove separately. He showed up with his ex, they did not have a no-contact order and he gave her rides to her job as she did not drive, (nor even did she have a license). She was attempting to recant to the Defender as she was afraid of the Prosecutor. The Defender got Very Angry and said, “This is My case, not yours. This case will be run the way I decide. Don’t Ever bring a state’s witness to my office again!” I was unaware that she was coming. It was a quick unannounced decision she made to try to peacefully bring the case to a close. She ended up sitting in the lobby while we met and discussed the case.
We continued to be offered plea deals, 10 years, 5 years, 2 years, and the last deal the defender strongly recommended accepting. “Yeah it’s a weak case but he’s a Good Prosecutor and you could end up with 28 years if you lose.” My son wished to Fight the charges. The defender said, “OK, It’s your decision. I’ll do my best, I’ll defend you the best I can.”
The ex was ordered to a sworn deposition prior to the case. I was not allowed in, just my son, the ex, the Prosecutor, and Defender. I was surprised to see the woman’s family had not shown up, and she was brought by an impartial party. During this deposition she seemed not immediately afraid, not having the feared family members there, or in the court room. She was able to speak more freely as the environment was more controlled, (according to my son). She basically recanted, under oath, that things were not as she had reported, and she did not believe that anything happened. As for the second charge, she was unable (due to her impaired mental capacity) to accurately testify, about the dimensions of the room, location of furniture, and distance from kitchen to living room. The fact that the baby was only 9 months old (and in a separate room) was never considered. After the deposition, the Prosecutor was visibly disturbed, flushed, pacing, and breathing heavily. I heard him yell to subpoena her Facebook account. I still have copies of her Facebook pages where she basically regretted the whole thing and testified that my son was a good man who never deserved this, etc. The first charge was dropped, the second stood.
On one of the final meetings with the defender prior to the court date, the Defender stated that he had just returned from Michigan City, a trip taken with the Prosecutor. He said that he was able to negotiate (during the trip) a deal. No jail time, 6 months house arrest, 1 year probation (which the Judge extended to 2 years at sentencing), lifetime on the SO registry, 2 years SO therapy and all associated court, therapy, and monitoring costs, with no chance for appeal. He strongly recommended him accepting the deal. My son wanted to fight the last charge. Just prior to the date, we had found that the ex was given an ultimatum about testimony to be given regarding the second charge and was threatened that if she didn’t comply, she would be immediately arrested as soon as she stepped down. This disturbed my son exceedingly. The final plea deal was offered to my son, and if he did not accept, the first charge would be reinstated, and if the woman did not comply with testimony for both charges, she would be immediately arrested for false reporting. The defender also produced a Supreme Court case supposedly the related the second charge, which the Prosecutor was going to use against my son. I do not remember the case name (I still have a copy here somewhere), but it concerned an Indiana Supreme Court case lost on appeal in which the defendant was caught looking into a room of sleeping children, and gratifying himself using the Children as the object. He was caught by the children’s mother. My son’s Defender said this was the case by which case would be tried. He said. “You WILL be found guilty of the second charge, and in my experience, if you are found guilty of one, you will most likely be found guilty of both. Your ex will go to Jail and you will receive at least 28 years in IDC.” My son, with tears in his eyes, accepted.
One would think there would be some sense of relief following the final hearing, it’s finally over. It was only the beginning. I will not go into detail on the Hell we endured following the sentencing. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The guilt of not having our “Day in Court.” The bitterness, Complete lost confidence in the justice system, Law enforcement, Government, and Humanity in general. A devastating lesson in reality. The so-called Therapy sessions. My son would not successfully complete until he admitted Complete Guilt. The Polygraphs that my son passed and was criminalized because he passed. The hammer constantly held over my son’s head. It all would be unbelievable if it wasn’t Fact. I discovered Indiana RSOL, and I was appalled to find that We Were Not Alone. We should have fought to the end and appealed if we lost. Devastating lesson learned.
I was deeply concerned about Prosecutorial Misconduct and Ethics but was assured that all he was doing was Legal. It added insult to injury when 2 years after the case, the Prosecutor in the case pleaded guilty to Felony Bribery, was convicted, disbarred, disgraced and will never practice law again. It says volumes about his credibility and ethics. I was also quite disturbed at the volume of exonerating evidence that was ignored by our Public Defender because it was “His case, not ours.” Even our Defender made the comment that the Prosecutor’s responsibility is to find the truth, not to get a conviction at any cost. I have also done some research on the large number of cases throughout the country were the defendants plead guilty, and then were later exonerated. I once read an old quote from one of the great Prosecuting Attorneys from the past, “I would rather that 10 guilty go free than for 1 innocent to be convicted.” I will remember that quote the next time I am called to serve on a Jury, because I personally know of at least one innocent that has been convicted