An innocent man spent two months in jail after the mother of his daughter falsely accused him of rape. They had had consensual sex, but was angry at him, so not only did she lie to police about the rape, for good measure she added that he was armed and dangerous. So 12-15 police cars came for him. He was humiliated. Two of the arresting deputies were people he knew from school. He faced 25 years to life for a crime he didn't commit and finally raised $25,000 for his bail. The false accuser finally recanted, but not before his life was ruined. His false arrest cost him countless jobs and $40,000 in legal fees. And he still must pay $460 per month on his bail (and likely child support, to the false accuser).
This man is typical of countless false rape victims. Yet the people who control the public discourse about rape insist false rape claims are a "myth." When they grudgingly concede that a small number of false claims are committed, they insist the real harm is to hypothetical future rape victims. In fact, they are wrong every step of the way. False rape claims are common, and their most significant victims are the innocent men like this, whose lives have been ruined by a vile lie. Read this one carefully.
Accuser recants, but stigma of rape charges remains
By Kate Leckie News-Post Staff
Thomas Charles Bender spent two months in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center when the mother of his child accused him of rape. She later recanted, allowing him to have the charges expunged from his record. At left is his new fiancée, Sandra Crawford.
Thomas Charles Bender is a mason by trade.
Until nine months ago, his only brush with the law was for a pair of hunting infractions, including failure to wear a fluorescent orange vest.
Bender's life took a nightmarish turn Jan. 3, when his former fiancée told police he'd raped her.
Driving down Bethel Road, Bender found himself surrounded by 12 to 15 police cars at the intersection of Fox Road.
He later learned his accuser told deputies to consider him armed and dangerous.
"They don't take that too lightly, I found," Bender said Friday as he discussed his struggle to put his life back together since he has had his record cleared.
Bender, 29, spent eight weeks in jail before he was able to raise $25,000, the 10 percent of his $250,000 bail needed to be released.
Then on March 16, his accuser, Samantha Carter-drabczyk, contacted the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office and asked to discuss the case, according to court documents.
She recanted her rape allegations during a meeting that same day with four criminal justice authorities involved in the case: Assistant State's Attorney Lindell K. Angel; Rebecca Littleton, a victim-witness coordinator; Cpl. Jason West, a sheriff's office detective; and Wayne Moffatt, a state's attorney investigator.
According to court documents, Carter-drabczyk told the group she had been angry at Bender when she made the allegations in January. She told them the two had argued and then had consensual sex.
Moffatt asked Carter-drabczyk if she was coming forward to see justice done, according to the documents.
"Yes. For him," Carter-drabczyk told Moffatt. "He was falsely accused," deputies quoted her as saying in documents seeking charges against her.
During the meeting, Moffatt reminded Carter-drabczyk that Bender had been incarcerated awaiting trial because of three statements she made to separate police officers. Taking back her previous statements constituted the false report of a crime.
Carter-drabczyk told Moffatt she would face the consequences, according to the documents.
Now the 29-year-old Thurmont woman is awaiting trial on criminal charges herself: three counts of making a false statement to police, a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for each conviction.
A pretrial conference is set for Sept. 25 in Frederick County Circuit Court.
On Thursday, Carter-drabczyk's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Matthew J. Frawley, declined to comment on the case.
Thursday evening, Carter-drabczyk changed her story again, two weeks before her next court appearance.
"I'm not sorry I took it (the allegations) back," Carter-drabczyk said of her March 16 meeting with criminal justice authorities.
"I did it so my daughter's father wouldn't go to prison and serve 25 years to life," she said.
On Friday, when told of Carter-drabczyk's latest about-face, Bender laughed.
"I think it's pretty obvious that with all the thousands of dollars and all the time police had invested in this case, that if the evidence was there, the state would have picked up the charges against me," Bender said.
For Bender, recovering his life as he knew it before his arrest has been slow.
"It's so frustrating," he said. "I didn't do anything wrong."
On June 16, Bender received a notarized letter from criminal justice authorities telling him the criminal charges against him had been expunged from court records.
When criminal charges against a defendant are expunged, prosecutors and police must destroy all documents related to the case. They cannot even acknowledge the previous existence of a case.
Still, Bender said his arrest has cost him countless jobs and at least $40,000 in legal fees.
Even though his record has been cleared, he's still required to pay about $460 a month on his bail.
The stigma from the allegations has left him humiliated.
Two of the deputies at his arrest were people he knew from attending Thurmont -area schools.
While held on charges of first-degree rape, second-degree assault and false imprisonment, Bender was kept in a cell block with men accused of robbery and attempted murder.
Bender said he plans to file a lawsuit against Carter-drabczyk to recover his financial losses related to the criminal charges.
He's also pursuing custody of their 4-year-old daughter.
Wednesday evening was the first time he'd been allowed to see the child in about a month, he said.
It was their daughter's birthday.
"It was absolutely great," Bender said. "I took her an ice cream cake and lots of nice presents. She loved them. Her Barbie laptop computer was her favorite."
Because Bender was successful in having his record expunged of the rape charges, Maryland court records now show no record of the January allegations against him.
But for Bender, that doesn't go far enough.
"She's ruined my life, but I'm not here to trash her," he said of Carter-drabczyk.
"I've been cleared of the charges, and the public needs to know that. I need to get on with my life."