Monday, November 7, 2011

Dallas man free, 14 years after false child sexual assault charges

A North Texas man celebrated his freedom on Friday Dale Duke served 14 years for a crime prosecutors no longer believe he committed.

It is no secret this had been an uphill battle for Dale Duke and his attorneys.

They have tried to reverse his guilty verdict once before in 1998. That attempt failed.

But, that changed. His road to freedom started with the recantation of his stepdaughter's allegations of sexual assault, corroborating evidence and then the Dallas County District Attorney's office asking for a finding of innocence.

A very short hearing was held at Frank Crowley Courthouse in Dallas Friday morning and Duke walked out of the courtroom, after 14 years in prison, a free man.

Duke immediately embraced his mother and father. He kissed them, hugged them and squeezed them for what seemed like minutes.

He told News 8 he was extremely happy and wanted his first meal to be the platter of shrimp cocktail his family had brought him.

He said is not bitter towards the person who launched the complaint that eventually put him behind bars. He said he forgave her and he did not regret refusing to accept guilt which could have afforded him parole and his freedom years ago.

"I'm gonna take it easy and relax a little bit,” said Duke. “Go back into society and see how things are going".

His father George in disbelief said, "Finally!  Finally!"

Duke said he plans to spend his first day of freedom relaxing. Sitting on his couch and attending church to thank his friends and believers at Chapel in North Dallas. Members of the church visited him in prison once a month for 14 years because they believed in his innocence.