Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Comment: Good for the police. Rape is terrible, and a false claim can be terrible, too.
Comment: Neither gender has a monopoly on virtue, of course.
Comment: I'm sorry, Officer Neville, but you are interested in her motive? Have you ever once asked what a rapist's motive is? Wouldn't most people say it doesn't matter, and they don't care? But somehow a false accusation of rape is different, and we need to learn the woman's motive?
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
It was April 2006 when Delay reported the rape to police. She told them it happened near her home in The Sugar Creek Subdivision of Brighton. Her story came just days after another teenage girl reported she'd been raped too, a claim which also turned out to be false. City attorney John Bramble said, "It was one of the first times in the history of this city that we had what we thought were two rapes in less than a week." Both women said it was a trio of Hispanic men who raped them. For months afterwards, police repeatedly questioned many of her own neighbors. Eduardo Diaz, who lives just a few houses away from Delay, said, "Everybody looked at me differently for a while. Nobody would talk to me at all." The City later acknowledged what they did was wrong saying none of the stops they made regarding potential suspects was appropriate. They also say by vigorously going after Dawn Delay, it wants to send a message that false reporting is not acceptable.
Comment: Good for the city. Note that both false accusers referenced in the story singled out "scary" foreign men as their attackers. Note the harm done to Eduardo Diaz, who was not only innocent but was never even charged. Women who don't specifically name a man in connection with a false rape claim can still do tremendous harm to innocent men -- anxiety about being arrested and social stigmatization. Perhaps Mr. Diaz could sue her.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Mann told police she was attacked Sunday in a second-floor bathroom by a man who had stalked her. She said the attack occurred about 4 p.m., but there were no witnesses. She told friends and went to the hospital, where police were called. Police and mall representatives issued statements about the attack and offered safety tips. Smith said she noted people were blogging about their concern over the woman's allegation. Those comments turned to bewilderment after police initially indicated that they would not file charges after she recanted. But Smith said that had nothing to do with the decision to charge Mann.
Police said this is the first local case in recent memory in which a woman has been charged with filing a false report after recanting a rape claim. Smith emphasized that victims of sex crimes should not be afraid to call police and that all claims will be thoroughly investigated. "We are not looking to put people in jail who want to report crimes that actually occur," Smith said. firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 359-4385
Comment: Another story that strangely mentions an interest in the false accuser's motive. Would anyone give a whit about a rapist's motive? I would think not. And how, pray tell, Officer Smith, is a lie about a rape a "little white lie"? A lie that will cause public fear and cause women to look at men as potential rapists. Branding it a "little white lie" seems to lie at the heart of the problem of why false accusations are not afforded the seriousness they deserve.
Read it here
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
A reporter is concerned about the woman's motive: When asked why Williams made the false rape report in the first place, Police Chief Thomas Goulden said the woman offered no explanation.
Comment: Excuse me, reporter Nancy Foster, but would you care about the motive of an alleged rapist? Damn right you wouldn't. Why is the crime of false accusations, which has a typical gender bent, different?
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sounds like a great ending, right? It's not. Villasana never got a dime for his wrongful conviction. No compensation for 21 months in jail on false charges. Nothing to help with his legal bills.
Adding sting to his humiliations, he said he still owes $16,000 on the $25,000 loaned to him in 1998 to get defense attorneys Shawn Askinosie and Teresa Grantham involved in his case. Villasana said he is trying to pay back $1,000 a year through money he earns cleaning houses with Wanda, now his wife. Wanda's brother had only come into the money through good fortune at the time, due to the settlement of a land dispute. Villasana has received no money from a civil suit he filed against Missouri Highway Patrol evidence collectors in his case, and Greene County officials have not offered any sort of reparation for his wrongful prosecution. "We can't take a vacation or nothing," he said. "I'm not asking for sacks and sacks of money, just a little bag."
Villasana filed suit against the Highway Patrol in 2002. But that died at a federal appeals court level in June 2004, when judges ruled the patrol had not acted in bad faith in failing to notify Villasana's defense of all materials available for DNA testing.
Villasana, 54 and now living near Seymour, has a civil lawyer, Greg Aleshire of Springfield, working on a contingency basis on possible further legal action. But Aleshire has had trouble getting transcripts of Villasana's 1999 trial. The court reporter, who used an older style of recording information, died some time ago and a replacement transcriptionist was hard to find.
Villasana, though hopeful, worries he will not ever win any sort of compensation. Why? Partly because Lummis, who falsely identified him three separate times in court, doesn't have any assets. Aleshire would probably have to show wrongdoing by the county sheriff's department or prosecutor to get damages.
Villasana, who is Hispanic, believes he was wronged by more than Lummis' lies. The sheriff's department used an unorthodox lineup of photos (he was the only dark-complected person in them) through which Lummis identified Villasana and got him charged. That lineup was eventually disallowed in the criminal trial. The department also used voice ID, a process in which the woman claiming rape listened to Villasana -- and only Villasana -- speaking from outside a room. Aleshire said that type of ID is highly suspect and suggestive. Also at the criminal trial, several witnesses, including one who was incarcerated at the time, offered information that appeared to corroborate the lying woman, Aleshire said. Villasana sees that as a setup; the county prosecutor's office says it was just happenstance, with the witnesses testifying to things like the type of clothes Villasana wore, and his habits and actions toward women.
Darrell Moore, county prosecutor, acknowledges mistakes in Villasana's case. But he points to Lummis, and her alone, as liable.
"It was a travesty," he said. "I feel for him, but the primary person who was responsible was her." Moore said he wishes some type of compensation could come to Villasana, perhaps from an empathetic community group. He added that his office worked hard to get to the bottom of the case once DNA testing pointed away from Villasana. Moore said the county spent about $4,000 for extra testing, to prove Lummis' fabrication. She lied to cover up an extramarital affair. Time had run out to prosecute her for perjury, though. It's little consolation to Villasana, but Moore said the case helped change the way the Highway Patrol notes evidence it collects.
Moore also said he will push for a change in the law to allow more time to file perjury charges because, as this case shows, a lie could send someone to jail for a long time. That's great. But it doesn't help with Villasana's $16,000 debt, or his hope for a little reprieve from work, or his goal of taking Wanda away for a vacation. Villasana admits he isn't a saint. A 10-year veteran of the Air Force, he said he drank heavily in the service, continued drinking when he got out, had run-ins with the law for theft and drunken driving and spent time in prison -- all before Lummis' tale ensnared him. Still, he's cleaned up. He turned his life around. He said he's been sober five years. "I don't want a million dollars or nothing," he said. "I just want them to do the right thing." Sure seems like he deserves something -- from someone, somehow -- for all he's been through. Freedom, in this case, just isn't enough.
Friday, April 18, 2008
According to a previous Eagle report, Frost told authorities a man abducted her after he hid in her van while she prepaid for gasoline at a Eufaula service station on Friday, April 11. The man allegedly forced her to drive to a location on Barbour County Road 79 where he raped her. She also said the man forced her to drive him to Headland after the assault.
Frost also went to an area hospital for treatment, and an examination for a sexual assault. But sheriff’s investigators said medical officials found no evidence of a sexual assault.Morris said investigators with the Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and the Eufaula Police Department interviewed several people, including Frost who admitted to making up the story, Morris said.
Apparently Frost picked up a man she knew at the USA Travel Center convenience store in Eufaula on U.S. 431, and they rode around in her vehicle for close to five hours, Morris said.
Morris said drug usage was reportedly involved during the car ride, along with some consensual sexual contact before she dropped him off in Headland.
“She made it up to have an alibi for when she got home because she has a live-in boyfriend,” Morris said. “Law enforcement have enough legitimate cases to work. We just don’t have time to work bogus cases people make up, Therefore we’re going to ask for restitution in this case.”
Comment: Several of the usual hallmarks of a false rape claim are present here. The fear motive: the woman feared telling a loved one what she was really doing so she lied that she was raped.
The elaborate detail in describing the alleged rape: Imagine how difficult it would be to defend against such a credible story.
And finally the police chiding her for wasting their time: As per usual, there is no expressed concern about potential victims of false accusations.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
CAT SIEH, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM — A woman who told police a stranger attacked, abducted and raped her during a morning run near Little Squalicum Beach, Washington last month fabricated the story, police said Wednesday. The woman, who had recently moved to Bellingham, told police she was running on a trail near the beach March 2 when someone attacked her from behind, put a bag over her head, threw her to the ground and kicked her head and body. She then said she was put in a car, raped and later dumped.
During more than six weeks of police investigation, detectives began to question the story’s veracity for several reasons, said Bellingham Police Deputy Chief Flo Simon. Results from a rape exam that came back from a state lab last week showed no indication that the woman was raped, Simon said. An extensive search of the area by crime scene investigators, police explorers and search dogs discovered no evidence that a crime occurred. Simon said officers would expect to find some sign of a struggle, such as displaced items or drag marks, in addition to the victim’s scent, blood or items used in the crime. Physical evidence, including the bag found on the woman’s head and a zip tie she was holding, were sent to a state crime lab but showed no DNA other than the woman’s, Simon said. Three independent search dogs were unable to find her scent in the area she said she had run, Chief Todd Ramsay said in a release. The dogs did, however, find her scent at the roadside ditch at the dead end of Cherry Street, where she told police she was dumped after the attacker drove her there in a vehicle. The dogs were taken to three spots to track from: the ditch; the spot where she said she was attacked and abducted; and her house, where she left from that day to go jogging. The dogs could trace scents only from the house to the ditch, Simon said. Hospital staff told police that the woman’s injuries, which were superficial, did not match the violent attack she described. Simon said the woman’s wounds may have been self inflicted. Ramsay said the woman “has significant needs.”
Simon would not comment on the woman’s mental state. Police took the woman into protective custody Wednesday morning. That process, used when people are considered a danger to themselves or others, includes a mental health evaluation. The woman still believes she was assaulted, Simon said, adding that it remains unclear what happened that day. Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Dave McEachran said he does not plan to press charges against her.
“We’re trying to focus on getting her the care that she needs,” Simon said. The woman does not have a criminal record and has not made a report like this before, Simon said.
A false report of sexual assault is extremely rare in Whatcom County, McEachran said. Police clocked more than 100 hours of overtime — totaling about $7,000 — in the days following the alleged incident, Simon said. The department dedicated an entire unit to the case, which detectives worked on daily. The department will not seek reimbursement for investigation costs from the woman. Karen Burke, executive director of Whatcom County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, said despite the false report, sexual assault remains an extremely serious and common crime. Burke helped organize a March 30 “Take Back Our Trails” 5K run/walk in response to the reported rape. About 600 people participated to show their support. She said many participants told stories of being harassed on area trails, in addition to accounts of attacks they escaped. “Last month our community really rallied together to provide support to victims of sexual assault,” Burke said. “That’s a message that remains relevant.”Though rape by a stranger is the rarest kind of sexual assault, Burke emphasized that sexual assault itself is not rare.“ (This false report) doesn’t mean this could not have occurred,” Burke said. “It’s always a good idea to take precautions.”
Comment: Amazing. The crime of false reporting is barely mentioned in this article; instead, the woman's lie becomes an occasion for fear-mongering about rapists. The woman is treated as a victim herself. What about some fear-mongering for victims of false accusations? The politically correct author of this tripe should be ashamed for providing such an unbalanced story.
On Wednesday, the doctor who examined Medlock told deputies that the exam showed no indication of rape or intercourse. While being interviewed by deputies, Medlock admitted making the story up. She said that she had gone to a residence in the city limits of Greenwood and smoked $50 worth of crack cocaine. Deputies said when Medlock realized how late it was she had to make up a story of where she had been so that her husband would believe her.
Both the Greenwood Police Department and the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office charged Medlock with filing a false police report. In addition to jail time, Medford could be fined up to $1,000 if convicted.
Comment: Several of the usual hallmarks of false rape claims here: The lie was concocted as an alibi to hide what she was up to from her husband. And note the details of the elaborate lie she manufactured.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
At a press conference in August, Moore announced that Lummis' reported rape in 1998 was a fraud -- a lie meant to cover up an extramarital affair.
The deception wasn't unraveled until 2007. Villasana, convicted in 1999, was freed at his sentencing hearing in June 2000 when his attorneys introduced evidence showing Villasana's DNA did not match evidence collected during Lummis' medical examination after the alleged rape. Five years later, the unknown DNA evidence was matched to a man in state prison for an unrelated crime. The prisoner told investigators he had consensual sex with Lummis the night of the reported rape. Lummis -- who was wanted for absconding from probation and parole -- was eventually arrested and confessed to the fabrication Aug. 7. She was not charged with perjury, however. Moore said the statute of limitations had run out. Instead, Lummis was sent to prison in September for repeatedly violating probation in several older cases, including two counts of felony forgery and fraudulently attempting to obtain prescription diet pills.
Brian Hauswirth, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said Lummis' release was authorized by the state Probation and Parole Board, which interviewed her in prison Feb. 13. "They use what's called a risk assessment instrument," Hauswirth said. "The board determined at that time that she would be released on parole, under supervision, of course."
Her parole will last until April 2011, Hauswirth said, during which time she must report regularly to a parole officer and abide by a number of requirements, such as staying off drugs and obeying all laws. She also will be restricted from associating with other felons, a condition she has violated in the past. When Lummis' probation was revoked in September, her probation officer noted that Lummis had been dating a convicted felon.
Villasana, whose name was finally cleared in August, said he bears no animosity toward Lummis. "I think she probably should have spent longer (in prison)," he said. "But it's out of my hands what they do with her ... it's up to the judge and parole board." A free man for the past seven and a half years, Villasana said he's frustrated most by the legal bills he's still struggling to pay. He thinks the county or state should reimburse some of those costs, but said his legal attempts to seek payment have stalled. "Everybody just wants to throw this all under the rug," he said. "All I'm asking is at least do the right thing and at least pay what I had to pay to get out."
''The police found nothing to substantiate that rumour at all but the effect on the community was horrific because it pitched the black Afro-Caribbean community against the black Asian community. ''Tensions ran high and there were many serious incidents of violence. Despite attempts to dispel the rumours the tensions increased,'' said Mr Burrows. He said one of the incidents involved a fatal stabbing and many crimes were reported to the police. He said the defendants were involved in what happened after 10pm on October 23 and into the early hours of the following day.
''These defendants were out together that night with others. They were armed with weapons, with a gun, with knives, machetes and sticks. 'They threatened people and they damaged cars and they threatened fire officers. The violence only stopped when tragically one of their number, a man called Aaron James, was accidentally shot and killed by Dowaine Maye.''
Mr Burrows said during that evening two fire crews had gone to a street following a report of a car being petrol bombed. When they arrived they were confronted by an armed mob, one of them telling an officer: "We are going to blow the town up tonight.'' He said one of them produced a gun and another a machete which he used to hit a side window of a fire engine. Mr. Burrows said in another incident a witness described a group of men who were wearing hoods 'dressed for a battle' and saw them throwing missiles which rained down on a supermarket. He said when police arrived the mob ran off, which was when Mr James was shot in Melbourne Avenue. He said that Maye had previously been sentenced after admitting a charge of manslaughter.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
A man's life was left in tatters by a woman who falsely cried rape. Louise Ndikum spun a 10-month tissue of lies which ended with innocent Alexesi Chua having to appear in court. He broke down in the witness box as he was forced to give evidence even though the single mum had admitted perverting the course of justice. Ndikum -- originally told police she had been raped in the street by a stranger. And when confronted by detectives she continued to lie – this time claiming she had been raped by a man in his house. Ndikum admitted lying to police but maintained her charade until the bitter end at Portsmouth Crown Court. Ten months after first crying wolf Ndikum continued to claim innocent Mr Chua had raped her. And Mr Chua had to take the witness stand and swear he had not attacked Ndikum even though police had already dropped all investigations against him. He denied overpowering Ndikum at his home in Baileys Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth, and sobbed: 'It's not me wasting everybody's time. It upsets me. I don't know anything of that.'
Mr Chua said he met Ndikum as he walked home on June 1 last year. He responded to a wolf whistle from a garden, spoke to Ndikum – who had been drinking – and a friend, and gave her his mobile number. Later the same day the couple met up and went to Mr Chua's house where they had consensual sex in his bedroom. Afterwards Ndikum told a friend she had been raped in the street and police were called. University of Portsmouth student Mr Chua was arrested on June 12. Mobile phone records confirmed his version of events and Ndikum was arrested. The court was told she lied to police during interview, before being shown phone records and admitting she lied about being raped in Baileys Road. Instead, she claimed she was raped by Mr Chua in his bedroom.
Judge Ian Pearson said of Ndikum: 'I have to say I do not find her story credible.' And he added: 'Although Mr Chua could be criticised for perhaps his lack of morals and scruples, the sexual intercourse that took place that night was consensual. This is a sad case of a lady having consumed alcohol having sexual intercourse with a man she recently met then regretting it.' Pat Brooks, the chief executive of Portsmouth Area Rape Crisis Service, said: 'It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a person to go to the police and say they've been raped. Men and women should not be put off by this case.'
Comment: Yes, yes, Judge Jackass -- the innocent man's morals are in question. The liar's morals are not questioned -- either for having sex or, far worse, lying about rape. Hers is a "sad case." My heart goes out to her. And Pat Brooks is certain to use this case of ANOTHER false rape accusation as an occasion to encourage women to come forward to "say they've been raped." We are living in wonderland. When will a case involving a false accusation be used as an occasion to teach about the dangers of false accusations -- to innocent men, especially?
Saturday, April 12, 2008
A Woman who wasted hours of police time by pretending a stranger had raped her has been spared prison. She doggedly stuck to her story and wasted even more police time before finally confessing she had made it all up, Grimsby magistrates heard. Mother-of-two Carol Beasley (42), of Edward Street, Grimsby, admitted wasting police time by making a false allegation that she had been sexually assaulted on February 17. Rebecca Dolby, prosecuting, told a previous hearing that Beasley claimed she had been walking along Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes, when a stranger appeared from the side of Fuller Street, pushed her to the ground, pulled her trousers off and raped her. She pretended he ran towards Manchester Street. She claimed she put her trousers back on but her underwear was missing. An appeal for witnesses was made in the Grimsby Telegraph.
"This would have caused members of the public to fear for their safety," said Miss Dolby. The truth emerged when a man she knew was interviewed. "She admitted she had lied," said Miss Dolby. Police asked Beasley: "Were you raped?" Beasley replied: "I was with somebody I should not have been with. I won't name him because he is married." Miss Dolby added: "She fully admitted lying to the police and said she had never been raped." Nick Furman, mitigating, said that Beasley found herself in "very sad circumstances" and "felt that she had to do this." She made a "poor decision," he added.
No further mitigation was given. Presiding magistrate Barry Thirtle told Beasley: "You appreciate now that wasting police time is not a good thing to do. "The magistrates had taken account of her guilty plea and the fact that she had no previous convictions, he added. Unemployed Beasley was given a one-year supervision order, 150 hours' unpaid work and must pay £329 compensation to the police forensic science service for wasted tests.
Comment: Several hallmarks of the typical false rape accusation case: police more concerned about their time than innocent men questioned for a crime they did not commit. A woman lying about rape to cover up an affair. And her attorney painting her as a victim, noting the "sad circumstances" of a lie she felt compelled to commit. (Somehow I can't see a rapist's attorney bothering with that defense. But of course we all know that false reporting about rape isn't really a "CRIME" crime, is it?)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
By Angela WeatherfordATHENS DAILY REVIEW (ATHENS, Texas)
ATHENS, Texas — In the end, the proof was on the tape, said a school administrator dealing with a student's claims Latino students attacked her because she made a sign protesting illegal immigration. Athens Superintendent Dr. Fred Hayes says middle school eighth-grader Melanie Bowers, 13, is seen on a surveillance video inflicting scratches on herself. The teen now finds herself in trouble. School officials say they are planning to seek charges against her for making a false statement to police. That case will be filed with the Henderson County County Attorney’s Office, District Police Chief Paul Redic said. Filing a false report to police is a Class B misdemeanor. However, the punishment for Bowers could be handled differently since she is a minor.School officials say they are looking at punishing the girl at school, as well. Two students who corroborated Bowers’ falsified story may also face consequences.
“We are diligent in our investigations, and what we want is for the truth to come out,” said Hayes, who admitted school officials had questions about the veracity of the story from the beginning. “We are glad the truth came out.“We did question the extent of her allegation,” the school administrator said, “because each time she told the story it seemed to get bigger and bigger.”The jaw-dropping flip-flop came along with a copy of a statement obtained through an open records request by the Athens Review containing a handwritten voluntary statement signed by the girl’s parents: “I see that my daughter was not assaulted and put the marks on her body,” Gary Bowers Jr. and his wife, Shera, wrote. “No gang violence was witnessed and she filed a false report.”
The parents were shown the video Wednesday.Melanie Bowers told school officials earlier this week 21 Hispanic students attacked and threatened to rape and kill her after seeing a poster she brought to school for a history class project. Students were asked to create a poster with a statement of political activism. Melanie Bowers’ poster read: “If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration.”
The conflicting evidence was found on tape by Redic around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Hayes said. On the tape, Bowers is seen leaving the cafeteria and walking toward the middle school office last Friday morning. While walking, she held up her political poster about chest high to a group of students passing by. A male student then walked up behind Bowers and took the sign way from her. Bowers ran after the student, who ran into the gymnasium. Bowers then passed several teachers — not approaching any of them for help, according to Hayes. She then entered the school office with two other girls and told Assistant Principal Mark Castleberry a boy had taken the poster. The girls were seen leaving the office a few seconds later. The tape then shows Bowers in the hallway scratching her own face, arm and neck. However, the tape never shows the girl being assaulted by others. Hayes said Bowers had a “slight rash on her arms and neck” when a district police officer photographed the injuries last Friday. On Tuesday, three students involved in the incident were given in-school suspension. Hayes said one student was suspended for destroying the sign and two others were suspended for inciting the first student. “It’s what we would do to anybody who destroys a project or takes a book or something like that,” he said. The suspended students were allowed back in class Thursday. Bowers hasn't been back in school.
Comment: What a terrible instance of a girl trying to hurt boys to pursue a political agenda. Note that if the genders were reversed, this particular sort of hate crime could not be plausibly alleged. It is especially frightening given that two others corroborated her lies. And inflicting scratches on herself? An example of the lengths some will go to hurt innocent males.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Meanwhile as a 'treat', his accuser was taken abroad on holiday to get over her 'ordeal.' But then she agreed she had made it all up.
However, the CPS ruled the girl should be given a final warning after a police investigation that she had perverted the course of justice, leaving Mr Kennedy furious. He said: "I am going to prosecute her. She should have been prosecuted. I still want her prosecuted. And I want compensation and an apology from the Chief Constable. "I faced the possibility of life in prison for something I did not do. It was a terrifying ordeal for me. I was set up - stitched up." Mr Kennedy, 42, was held on remand with Category A offenders at Bristol Jail before being freed. Karen Harrold the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wiltshire said there was sufficient evidence 'but that it is not in the public interest to proceed with a prosecution' against her. "I have advised that the young girl should receive a final warning which will involve her working with Wiltshire Youth Offending Service and include restorative justice approaches and counselling."
The CPS said the girl had been subject to sexual abuse by another person. Kennedy had appeared before magistrates and then before a judge at Bristol Crown Court. He was being held pending his trial before he was suddenly freed.
Comment: Again, the false accuser is deemed not so much a criminal as a victim herself.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
"Considerable time and resources were put into investigating this matter at the expense of other investigations." The woman has been referred to counselling services. Police said a decision would be made as to whether charges would be laid against her.
Comment: One has to marvel at the understatement of these false rape accusation stories. They are not crimes so much as disappointments. The possible harm to innocent men is often not a concern at all, but wasting police time -- that is a no-no. The exact same quotes could be transferred verbatim to stories where schoolboys pull college pranks, like setting off the sprinkler system -- that's "very disappointing," and most frustrating that it wastes police time.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Wonderful, Mr. Cox. You think it's reasonable to equate the incalculable wrong of a wrongful conviction with asking the state to compensate a victim who was, after all, convicted under state law.
I find it unfathomable, Mr. Cox, that you would adopt this cold-hearted position if the wrong being addressed affected women instead of men.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Ken Wyniemko spent nearly nine years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. The Rochester Hills man says people wrongfully convicted and put behind bars should be compensated for the time they were denied freedom. He supports legislation pending in the state House that would allow the exonerated to sue the state for at least $50,000 for each year they spent locked up. The amount of compensation could go higher depending on the amount of lost wages and other costs associated with the imprisonment. The bill also would provide the wrongfully convicted with up to 10 years of physical and mental health care through the state employee system. Wyniemko, 56, received a $3.7 million settlement from Macomb County's Clinton Township and police after being released from prison in 2003. He was set free after a DNA test cleared him of raping a Clinton Township woman. He says the legislation, along with other proposals aimed at expanding the uses of DNA evidence, are needed to provide some sense of justice after an injustice has been done.
"No person in this country, and especially in this great state, should have to suffer like I did or like my family did," says Wyniemko, a former bowling alley manager who now works through a nonprofit foundation to make sure others who have been wrongfully convicted are exonerated.
"My goal is to try and reform the system as best as I can to ensure that what happened to me doesn't happen to anyone else," he says. Wyniemko was convicted in 1994 even though he steadfastly maintained he was innocent. He says the conviction came about in part because of false testimony from a jailhouse informant seeking a lighter sentence, and witness misidentification. Wyniemko missed his father's funeral in 2000 because he was behind bars. He missed the birth of two grandchildren. The Innocence Project, based in New York, says that 22 other states have laws to compensate the wrongfully convicted. The organization says the laws are needed because people who lost years due to a wrongful conviction often have no money, housing or health care when they are finally exonerated. But Attorney General Mike Cox sees drawbacks to the bill. He says it could force the state to pay out large sums of money even though the wrongful convictions were the fault of other agencies or departments. Most people are sent to prison through charges pursued by local prosecutors in county courts.
"That's not fair and makes no sense," Cox spokesman Rusty Hills said in a written statement. "State taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for someone else's mistake. I understand that wrongful conviction is a terrible miscarriage of justice, but two wrongs don't make a right." The bill also could run into opposition because it might give people the right to sue both state and local officials for damages. Wyniemko, for example, would be eligible to sue the state under the legislation as introduced, even though he got a settlement from the township and police. State Rep. Steve Bieda, a Democrat from Warren who's sponsoring the legislation, says the bill is needed to send a message that injustices will be righted.
"I kind of look at this as an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere," he says. "While this bill will only assist a select few, its importance is immeasurable — not only the message it sends to individuals around the state, but also the world, that we do believe in justice and that if someone has been aggrieved by the criminal justice system they should have a method of compensation for that." DNA testing has exonerated 215 people nationwide, according to the Innocence Project, including two in Michigan — Wyniemko and Eddie Joe Lloyd, who was convicted in 1985 for the murder and rape of a Detroit teen. Lloyd, a psychiatric patient, wrote to police about the case. He said police then gave him details about the case and urged him to confess in what he believed was an effort to smoke out the real killer. That confession, obtained from him while he was in a mental hospital and on medication, played a role in his conviction.
Lloyd eventually was exonerated. He was released from prison in 2002 and died about two years later. His family won $600,000 from the state and more from local governments after his death. Besides covering inmates exonerated through DNA evidence, the legislation could be broadened to cover other people, such as those whose guilty pleas were coerced or whose convictions were based on misidentification, faulty testimony or changes in evidence. The Bieda bill would add to other DNA testing legislation already passed by the House. Those measures would extend the time allowed to ask for retesting of DNA evidence and a new trial, and let felons convicted of a broader list of crimes request DNA retesting and new trials. The legislation also would require state departments to remove information pertaining to the conviction from their criminal databases when a judgment is overturned based on DNA evidence.
The wrongful conviction compensation bill is House Bill 4250.
On the Net:
Michigan Legislature: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/
The Innocence Project: http://www.innocenceproject.org/
Attorney General Mike Cox: http://www.michigan.gov/ag