The San Antonio Four, women released after more than a decade of imprisonment over child-abuse crimes they say they never committed, talk to NBC News. “Plea deals were offered, but they refused to accept them on the grounds that they were innocent.” One of the two accusers (pre-teens at the time) has recanted, the other sticks by her story.
The Massachusetts attorney general is now running for governor of the state after losing a Senate run three and a half years ago, so this makes a good occasion to revamp a 2010 post slightly so as to remind readers of Coakley’s central role in the Amirault travesty of justice, described so well by Dorothy Rabinowitz here. Earlier on the Amirault case here and here; on Coakley’s prosecutorial record here. More: John Stossel and (via Memeorandum): Bronwyn’s Harbor, No Quarter (citing views of Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft); Dan McLaughlin, RedState; Dan Riehl (Woodward, Souza cases). Yet more: on Coakley’s offer to a deal to one defendant on condition that the experienced defense counsel handling the deal agree not to represent a second defendant in future, see Scott Greenfield (characterizing the move as “a deliberate effort to undermine the constitutional right to counsel”), Kenneth Anderson/Volokh, and John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum. In 2010 we wondered whether Coakley’s Senate-race nosedive under critical public and press scrutiny amounted to the first time a Massachusetts prosecutor had paid a price for being wrong in the Amirault episode.
In Hopewell, Va., Mr. Montgomery spent four years behind bars after Ms. Coast falsely accused him of a rape eight years earlier, when he was 14. Eventually she admitted she’d made it up. “Coast however was sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to just two months in jail and ordered to make $90,000 in restitution for perjury. Jones suspended the rest of the five-year sentence and even allowed Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to disrupt her life.” [Jonathan Turley via Amy Alkon, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
“They will spend 10 years and all their money on litigation because of their inability to agree on anything,” a therapist predicted accurately. Yet more unsettling: the mom leveled false abuse accusations at the dad before eventually recanting. [Winnipeg Free Press]
Four Texas women have been serving long prison terms since a 7-year-old and 9-year-old girl, nieces of one of them, accused them in a lurid tale of assault. Now, the younger accuser has grown up and recanted [Michelle Mondo, My San Antonio]:
“I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I’m going to do. I can’t live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”…
On and off the witness stand, the sisters changed their accounts of the timing, the use of weapons, the perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities, records show.
P.S. And another Texas recantation, of charges lodged during a bitter custody fight, the defendant has served more than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
More evidence that innocent parents are in prison over infant deaths [Emily Bazelon, Slate; earlier here, etc.]
A concocted “multiple personalities” tale wrecked many lives by launching a thousand bogus recovered memories of abuse, not a few of which made it to court. Debbie Nathan (“Satan’s Silence”) has a new book out, “Sybil Exposed,” telling the story. [Laura Miller, Salon (link fixed now)]
In dozens of prosecutions each year, parents or caregivers are charged after infants who died under their care have been found to display supposedly infallible indicators of abuse — in particular, subdural and retinal hemorrhage with brain swelling. Many convicted defendants stoutly maintain their innocence all along; others are sent to prison on the basis of equivocal “confessions”. Even when (as is common) there is no pattern of previous child abuse, it often happens that authorities remove other children from an alleged abuser’s home as legal action proceeds. Has the hope of using cutting-edge forensics to identify abusers wound up leading the authorities and courts to inflict new injustices? [Emily Bazelon, New York Times Magazine] More: Balko.
William Saletan investigates a curious genre of harassment case [Slate; more at Atlantic Wire]