The recent exoneration of a man who was convicted on sexual assault charges may cause many readers to question whether alleged sex offenders are given a fair day in court.
In the case, the prosecution’s evidence seemed shockingly light. The victim alleged that the man had raped her in the building where she worked. She further claimed that she put up a loud struggle, even biting her alleged assailant. However, authorities found no DNA evidence on the suspect and no evidence of a bite mark. No other physical evidence, such as hair, was discovered on the accused, either.
Without circumstantial evidence, the prosecution apparently focused on the victim’s testimony and the suspect’s own confession. Unfortunately, the man also suffered from a mental illness and had a low IQ. As a sex crimes attorney might agree, a suspect with those characteristics might be more susceptible to falsely confessing to a crime.
Notably, an internal investigation by the local sheriff’s office reached a similar conclusion about the lack of evidence against the man, although the existence of the report was only recently disclosed. The report contains a material fact that might have spared the man his wrongful conviction: A sheriff’s deputy had been in an adjacent room at the time of the alleged rape, yet he did not hear any sounds of a struggle or cries for help.
This story might serve as a caution for anyone facing charges for sexual assault or another sex crime. The constitutional rights of a criminal defendant should be honored regardless of the underlying charges. However, it may take an experienced sex crimes attorney to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
Source: chicagotribune.com, “Prosecutors dismiss charges in 2 cases: 'This is a joyous day',” Steve Mills and Steve Schmadeke, Sept. 10, 2013