On September 19 of this year, an intoxicated 32-year-old woman was asked to leave a party. She thereafter accused four young men who were at the party, ranging in age from 17 to 26, of raping her. Despite their denials, despite the fact that they had alibis, they were incarcerated for two weeks, with bail set a levels designed to insure they wouldn't get out. All on one woman's word. The young men could have received life imprisonment for this alleged crime.
Sources: http://www.swtimes.com/articles/2009/09/23/news/news092309_08.txt and http://www.kfsm.com/news/kfsm-river-valley-ozark-gang-rape-police,0,2312687,print.story
Today, a local newspaper reported that the woman recanted:
Police Say Woman Recants Rape Claim Against Four Males
By Hicham RaacheTimes Record • firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, October 6, 2009 8:37 AM CDT
A woman who accused three Franklin County men and one teen of holding her down and raping her has recanted.
Bobby Wilson, 23, Morgan Applegate, 20, Ashley Wheeler, 26, and a male teen, all of Ozark, have been released from jail, where they were held after the woman accused them of raping her with a foreign object at a party in Ozark on Sept. 19, according to Lt. Steve Coppinger of Arkansas State Police.
The four males were released Monday after the woman recanted her statement, in which she accused them of beating and raping her, Coppinger said.
“There was some type of consensual contact between them, but she recanted the rape allegation and beating,” he said.
“There was contact and horseplay between her and all four (males).”
Ozark Police Chief Jim Noggle said State Police were called upon to investigate the woman’s recantation.
It will be up to Prosecuting Attorney David Gibbons to determine if the woman will be arrested on suspicion of falsifying a police report, Coppinger said.
And the men speak out about how their lives have been ruined:
Men Cleared Of Rape Charges Speak Out
October 6, 2009
OZARK - They were accused of gang rape and held in jail for more than two weeks. But as we reported Monday, the four Ozark men were cleared and released. Now, they're talking exclusively to 5NEWS about their innocence and why they say these allegations have ruined their lives.
The former suspects praised an Ozark officer and a state police investigator for clearing their names and getting them released. The men said all they had was the support of one another to survive the inside. The trio was arrested two weeks ago along with a 17-year-old for allegedly raping a 32-year-old woman in Ozark.
Ashley Wheeler told 5NEWS the woman was drunk and told to leave the party after she became belligerent.
"The girl had lied from the get go and was ready to ruin our lives over this; over being made to leave the party," he told 5NEWS.
Wheeler, Morgan Applegate, and Bobby Wilson say they had nothing to hide and cooperated with police.
"I told them the truth," Wilson said. "None of us did this. The rape never happened."
They fear that this will follow them for the rest of their lives and that people will always look at them with contempt.
All three say this has left them emotionally scarred.
"I have a baby with cancer, and I am a good father and to be put in jail for something I didn't do..." Wheeler said.
The friends say this is the most difficult time in their lives.
"I lost my dad recently, a few weeks ago," Applegate explained. "I lost my house. I have nothing. All I had was my job, and I lost that too because of this."
In fact, all of them lost their jobs. Now, they're left to try and find work in a small town during a down economy.
The men expressed their gratitude to Ozark officer Justin Phillips and ASP investigator Sgt. Kim Warren for clearing their names.
They're understandably angry at their accuser.
"I think she needs to serve time," Applegate said. "I do. I think she needs to be in there like we were cause she's guilty, and we weren't and that's the difference."
The woman who accused them could now face charges for filing a false police report, a Class D felony.
They also thanked attorney Dan Ivey, Wheeler's mom, along with other family and friends who supported them.
The men have now been accused of huffing a substance while in custody at the Franklin County Jail. All three say it's a trumped up charge they'll fight. The charge is a misdemeanor.