Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prosecutor forges ahead with case despite alleged victim's recantation

The prosecutor is forging ahead with the case described below despite the alleged victim's recantation, because he says recantations are not uncommon in these cases. He alludes to other evidence of supposed guilt, which is not spelled out in the news article. Absent such other evidence, this matter should not go to trial. While recantations sometimes occur for illegitimate reasons, they more often occur for legitimate ones. Imagine how barbaric our justice system would be if we allowed prosecutors to simply "roll the dice" with no additional evidence than the alleged victim's initial report of a sex crime, in light of her recantation? But, then again, we do see a fair number of examples of such barbarism in news accounts repeated on the pages of this blog.


Alleged rape victim recants story after being jailed for refusing to testify

The 19-year-old alleged victim in a rape case recanted her testimony Thursday, two days after a Gwinnett County judge ordered her to be jailed for refusing to testify.

The woman, whose name is withheld because prosecutors still consider her a victim of sexual assault, said at a hearing that her testimony "is gonna be that it didn't happen," when the case goes to trial.

A jury was selected earlier this week in the case against Kenneth Anthony Jones, 47, who is accused of molesting the female relative over several months in 2004 and 2005. However, the jury was excused before trial could begin when problems about the alleged victim's testimony cropped up at a pretrial hearing.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Fred Bishop ordered the 19-year-old jailed on Tuesday when she refused to testify despite being granted blanket immunity. The teenager's two-night jail stay apparently led to a change of heart about testifying, but not the kind prosecutors hoped for. Instead, the teenager testified Thursday morning she had concocted a story about being molested by a relative to escape a troubled home life.

"I didn't want to be in the house anymore," she said. "I was tired of rules, I was always in trouble in school and I always had to watch my sisters' kids. I just wanted to be alone."

The victim said she had hoped the case would just go away when she met with prosecutors this summer and told them she didn't want to go forward with the case.

Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Jay Hughes decided to forge ahead with the case, which has been pending against Jones for four years. Hughes said it is not uncommon for victims of molestation to recant their testimony. The highest rate of recantation is when the abuse occurs at the hands of a family member, Hughes said.

"Based on my knowledge of the body of evidence I expect to be admitted, I believe the case should go forward for a jury to make a decision," Hughes said. "Credibility is always a matter for the jury to decide."

The teenager was released from jail Thursday with the understanding that she must return to testify at trial. The trial date will be reset for a later date, Hughes said. Jones was arrested Oct. 17, 2005, and has been free on $27,800 bond since Nov. 15, 2005.

Hillary Krepistman, an attorney who was appointed to represent the alleged victim on Tuesday, said it was unfortunate that the teenager wound up going to jail. She said the 19-year-old was clearly overwhelmed.

"My heart breaks for this girl," Krepistman said. "Regardless of what may or may not have happened to her, obviously there was trouble there in the home. She had to spend two nights in jail while [the relative] goes home."