Tag Archives: In The News

Leicester police seek charges against teen who reported rape

Here is a news story about a police department in Leicester, Massachusetts who is trying to get stiffer penalties for those who make false allegations.

Some excerpts:

“Citing fraudulent crime reports in his town and around the area, Police Chief James J. Hurley said stiffer penalties for filing false police reports are needed. Those accused face harsher penalties than those making false claims against them, he said.”
“Chief Hurley said, ‘The punishment for this type of crime needs to be increased. If you fraudulently accuse someone of a crime that could put them in jail for 20 years, then the person who fraudulently reports the crime should face the same penalty.'”

A link to the full article is below:

Leicester police seek charges against teen who reported rape.

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Witch Hunt

Today, I was made aware of a movie project – called Witch Hunt– it is a documentary produced and narrated by Sean Penn.

This movie highlights the story of John Stoll, and dozens of other men and women, who found themselves falsely accused – and falsely convicted – of child molestation in Kern County, California!

Below is the synopsis as it appears on the movie’s website:

On the night John Stoll was roused from his bed and carted off to jail, his attitude bordered on the cavalier.
“Aren’t you worried?” His lawyer wondered.
“Hell no, I ain’t worried,” John answered. “I didn’t do this. You can’t convict me of something I didn’t do.”

It was more than two decades before John Stoll was free again.

Executive Producer Sean Penn proudly presents “Witch Hunt,” a gripping indictment of the United States justice system told through the lens of one small town. It’s John Stoll’s story, but it’s also the story of dozens of other men and women who found themselves ensnared in a spiral of fear, ignorance and hysteria. These people are Americans, working class moms and dads, who were rounded up with little or no evidence, charged and convicted of almost unimaginable crimes. All sexual. All crimes against children. Years, sometimes decades later, they would find freedom again, but their lives and the lives of their children would be changed forever. This film shows viewers what the real crime in this case is, not molestation, but the crime of coercion. Viewers hear from the child witnesses who were forced to lie on the witness stand as they describe scary sessions with sheriff’s deputies in which they were told — not asked — about sexual experiences that happened to them. Their coerced testimony led to dozens of convictions. Many times their own parents were the ones they put behind bars.

Soon after the trials, the children started to crack. They told adults of the lies they’d been forced to tell on the stand and hoped it would make a difference. It didn’t and the convicted continued to sit in prison. As the allegations grew more outlandish, California’s Attorney General wrote a scathing report on the court misconduct, but instead of being buried by criticism, Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels thrived, doing what he did best– putting people away. He boasted one of the highest conviction rates in the country. This strategy served him well. Jagels is still in office today. Through new interviews, archival footage, and unflinching narration by Mr. Penn, the filmmakers construct an intimate film that illustrates a universal point; when power is allowed to exist without oversight from the press, the community or law enforcement, the rights of everyday citizens can be lost for decades. National film critic Marshall Fine says, “This is a chilling story about American law-enforcement run amok and untethered. It’s particularly timely in the wake of revelations about the way the Bush administration has trampled American civil rights. A movie that can’t help but move you – to tears and to action.”

I immediately purchased, and watched this movie…and, even having personally gone through a similar story, I find it frightening to think that this kind of thing can happen to anyone.  One of the most impactful quotes for me from this movie is from Jeff Modahl, who served 15 years in prison before his conviction was overturned.  Jeff speaks about false allegations and says, “This does happen – and it can be you, your neighbor, your son or daughter.  It can happen right now in your own home.  There’s no rhyme or reason why it happens.  If somebody wants to do it – it can happen.”

I highly recommend this movie to everyone.  It will certainly make you think twice, even three times, every time you hear an allegation!  For more information on the movie, and how it benefits the California Innocence Project, please click HERE.  To purchase the DVD, please click HERE, or to download from iTunes click HERE.

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Gregory Taylor’s first day of freedom is a whirlwind

A news report from 2/18/10 that highlights some of the effects of a wrongful conviction! Click the article title below to be redirected to the full story, with video of his interview.

Gregory Taylor’s first day of freedom is a whirlwind

RALEIGH, N.C. — For his first full day of freedom in more than 16 years, Greg Taylor woke up and hit the gym for the same upper-body workout he did every Thursday in his cell.

Then he shook off the one thing he believes publicly branded him as a former prisoner: his eyewear.

After breakfast and a shower, he went to an eyeglass store in Durham to replace the thick, tortoise-shell frames given to prisoners with a pair of oval-shaped, chocolate-colored wire frames that more suit his long, narrow face.

It wasn’t just that the glasses were unfashionable, he said.

It’s what they said about him and his conviction in the beating death of a prostitute in Raleigh in 1991. Three judges decided Wednesday he was innocent of that crime and released him from his life sentence.

“People can look at them and say, ‘he just got out of prison,'” Taylor said. “I want to get rid of these.”

Taylor spoke to reporters while holding the hand of his 26-year-old daughter, Kristen Puryear, and pushing a stroller carrying his 23-month-old grandson, Charles.

He counted off all the loved ones he lost while behind bars: a grandmother, a sister, three uncles, a cousin, a dog and two cats. But it was when he discussed the happy events he missed that he choked up.

“Her 10th birthday party,” he said of his daughter.

“Her high school graduation was a big one,” he said. “These are the things you can’t get back.”

He also went back to prison – the Johnston County Correctional Center – to collect his personal belongings, some money in a prison trust fund and a $45 gate check that all prisoners who’ve served two years or more receive when they leave.

For Taylor, the trip was definitely different – after spending the last nine years beyond the facility’s barbed-wire fence.

“It’s a different perspective, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’m looking at the same fence, but from the other side, it doesn’t look familiar at all.”

Taylor also met with someone who was part of the chain of events leading to his exoneration: former state Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr., who launched the study panel that led to creating the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

Taylor’s case was the first exoneration to result from the work of the commission, which is the only state-run agency in the country dedicated to proving a convicted person’s innocence.

If the governor grants Taylor a pardon, he can apply for compensation from the state Industrial Commission for $50,000 a year up to a maximum of $750,000.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind catching up to a world that changed quickly in the time he was locked away.

In the gym, he found a spacious room with a wall of mirrors, banks of exercise equipment and state-of-the-art weights instead of an outdoor space with a view of a guard tower.

Before a technician examined his eyes at the store in Durham, Taylor had to sign his name on a computer screen. “I don’t understand,” he said before figuring it out.

Although he has read numerous books on computer programming, Taylor saw the Internet for the first time Wednesday night when his daughter gave him a brief tutorial on his laptop.

She updated his wardrobe with jeans, a black polo shirt and boxer-briefs, which he had never worn. He could only surmise that she didn’t know if he preferred boxers or briefs, so she split the difference.

When a friend tried to explain how a thumb drive would extend the storage space of his newly purchased digital camera, Taylor responded: “Oh, so it’s like film?”

His lack of knowledge about cell phones – he saw his first one this week – overwhelmed the sales clerk. “Wow. I don’t even know where to start,” she said.

All the bright and shiny newness seemed to take a toll on Taylor. “Everything has been smell and see and hear – no thoughts,” he said.

He slept with a light on Wednesday night, not so much a reaction to brightly lit prison cells, but because he wanted to be able to see the new surroundings of his daughter’s house if he woke up during the night. And it felt strange to shower in his bare feet after wearing flip-flops in the shower for so long.

“Do you wear shoes in the shower?” he asked two reporters

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Falsely Accused Teachers

A John Stossel report on the horrifying occurrence of false accusations towards teachers.  This is not, however, at all limited to teachers!

Falsely Accused Teachers – ABC News.

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