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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Question

The question is not why would they lie; the question is, did they lie.

Despite the assurances from professionals and law enforcement that ‘people don’t lie about abuse’, the exonerations just keep stacking up.

Montgomery County:

Robert Wayne McCulloch was convicted in 2000 of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. His adult stepdaughter apparently made a believable case to the police, a Grand Jury, and finally a regular trial jury that he had assaulted her ten years before, when she was a child. The jury sentenced him to 10 years probation, and McCulloch stayed out of trouble. He stopped associating with friends and family, lost a successful business, a girlfriend, everything. He withdrew from life to keep out of prison.

Early this year his accuser came to his house and apologized; asked forgiveness and recanted her story. The Montgomery County DA’s office began the process of vacating his conviction, which will allow him to be a normal person once more, if that’s even possible after living so long with a false conviction.

It can be hard to prove a crime happened ten years ago, even with some amount of physical evidence. How the hell was this woman able to convince three groups of people (who are ostensibly seeking only justice) to convict a man of an old, imaginary crime with no evidence of any kind?

Knowing what we do, that the innocent are imprisoned for this type of crime more often than anyone wants to believe, we need to demand a higher standard of proof. Not just for the protection of the adults involved, but also for the children who accuse them.

Imagine for a moment, growing up knowing that you had put your father, brother, or uncle in prison for the rest of his life because of a lie that, as a child, you barely had the capacity to understand? Imagine the damage done to the relationship with the adult who, perhaps unknowingly, helped encourage and coach you in a lie? What does that do to a person’s psyche, their outlook for future relationships?

Why do people lie? It doesn’t really matter; the fact is that they do, and knowing that should encourage us all to be a little less gullible when it comes to accusations of sexual abuse.

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