Sunday, March 2, 2008

A life on hold : Allen Wayne McFadden has been on a roller-coaster ride through the judicial system

Story here

By Tracy M. Neal Staff Writer //
Posted on Sunday, March 2, 2008

Allen Wayne McFadden spent more than a year living under a cloud of suspicion.

"It's still hard for me to talk about, " the Rogers resident said. "You're talking about a whole year of my life, … feeling oppressed."

McFadden, 42, was arrested more that a year ago on suspicion of raping a teenage girl.
Today, McFadden still maintains his innocence, and last month prosecutors dismissed the case against him.

The prosecution of McFadden ended Feb. 7 when prosecutors filed a motion to nolle prosequi the case. A nolle prosequi is a formal entry on the record by the prosecuting officer by which he or she declares the case will not be prosecuted further. Prosecutors have a year to refile the case.

"It was hell," McFadden said. "I couldn't count on having a future. Our lives were on hold."
McFadden had to live with the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. There were plea offers his attorney relayed to him. One was for 20 years, and another where he would have to serve at least a year in prison if he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

"It was a good plea, according to my attorney," McFadden said. "I told him to tell them to shove it. I'm innocent."

Deputy Prosecutor Mike Armstrong said the case was nolle prosequi because two witnesses came forward and provided statements that cast reasonable doubt over the case.

"Just because the case was nolle prosequi, it doesn't mean he's innocent," Armstrong said. "It doesn't prevent us from refiling the case at a later date."

McFadden was arrested Jan 27, 2007, at his home. He was handcuffed and was in the back seat of a squad car when he heard a Benton County Sheriff's Office deputy tell his wife he was being arrested for rape.

"I couldn't believe it," McFadden said. "I hadn't been able to believe any of this since day one."

Jeremy Felton, an investigator with the Benton County Sheriff's Office, questioned McFadden at the Sheriff's Office. During the interrogation, Felton told McFadden there was DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

McFadden was happy to hear DNA evidence existed because he believed it would clear him of any wrongdoing. He later learned the "DNA evidence"was a tactic Felton used in hopes of attaining a confession from McFadden.

McFadden said he became angry with Felton's questioning, so he requested an attorney.
McFadden was held in jail for four months. His bond was set at $ 50, 000. He was finally released after it was lowered to $ 25, 000.

The once-accused McFadden said he always thought it was "innocent until proven guilty," but his treatment by some inmates and jailers convinced him otherwise.

McFadden said he had to live with daily threats from some inmates and jailers.

"One deputy would call me a sick pervert," McFadden said.

Another deputy once refused to give McFadden his meal tray.

Jail Capt. Hunter Petray said deputies are not allowed to harass or judge inmates. "We don't tolerate that from deputies, and if it happens, it's dealt with," Petray said.

He said the jail has a grievance procedure for inmates who have complaints concerning deputies and other inmates. Petray said he did not remember any grievances filed by McFadden.

Even while he was jailed, McFadden said, there was evidence that pointed to his innocence.

In an April 2007 letter from a Department of Health and Human Services employee, it is referenced that the girl claimed she lied about McFadden raping her because she was mad that he didn't give her a pack of cigarettes.

The letter claims the girl's statement was forwarded to the Prosecutor's Officer. The letter was not in the prosecutor's case file.

Around the same time, the girl also wrote a letter to her mother in which the girl again claimed the rape allegations against McFadden were lies.

His wife - Malinda McFadden - said the girl had made prior allegations against other people.

There were also two witnesses ready to testify they had heard they girl say she would make false sexual-abuse allegations against McFadden.

McFadden believes investigators and prosecutors should have done more before his arrest. They should have reviewed the girl's history and checked her counseling records, McFadden said.

"We used to have faith in the system," his wife said. "I don't have faith in the system anymore."
McFadden is happy that his criminal case was dismissed. But another legal fight may be on the horizon.

His name was added to DHS's child-abuse registry.

McFadden said he's been told that it's almost impossible to have a name removed from the registry.

McFadden believes his life has forever been altered.

There are neighbors who used to wave at him. Now, they don't even look at him.

The rape allegations have also affected his two sons. They have heard derogatory statements from other children at school.

"It's also been a nightmare for them," McFadden said.

McFadden said he now wants peace and to move forward with his life. He and his family may have to move to another area to attain that peace.

"I used to read news stories about sexual abuse of children and believe it," McFadden said. "I look at it with different eyes now with my experience. I wonder now; are they innocent like me ?"