False Allegations of Child Abuse
Our instincts are to protect and defend defenseless children.  It is a measure of a civilized society.   It is equally instinctive to presume guilt.  That tendency is even stronger when the accused must prove a negative---that what he or she is accused of didn't happen---and the accuser is a physician with a stack of degrees or, equally potent, a child.  These combinations have led to countless criminal convictions:  parents, day care providers, teachers, neighbors---even when the charges cannot be supported by objective scientific evidence, or when there was no physical evidence at all to support the claims. 

We're having second looks at many of these cases, acknowledging that we've convicted innocent people, destroyed families and ruined childhoods.  A second look at the processes that led to these miscarriages of justice is essential, because unless we learn from our mistakes, we will continue to repeat them.


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Shaken Baby Syndrome
Munchausen by Proxy
Physical/Mental Abuse
Sexual Assault

Shaken Baby Syndrome
"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." ~ John F. Kennedy, 35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 - 1963)

Carrie Sperling Talk and Panel on Shaken Baby Syndrome

The Shaky Science of Shaken Baby Syndrome
Prosecuters have charged parents and caretakers with shaking infants to death. But how valid is that diagnosis, and how reliable is the evidence behind it?
Shaken: A Diagnosis on Trial

The Wrongful Conviction of Clayton Mibroda

The Highly Irregular Case of Brian Peixoto

Melissa CalusinskiEarly in June, 2015, Paul Calusinski of Carpentersville, Illinois, who has been fighting for years to get his daughter, a convicted child killer, out of prison, got an anonymous call on his cellphone.  The man told Calusinski he needed to have his attorneys get from authorities the “second set” of X-rays of the 16-month-old boy that Melissa Calusinski was convicted of killing at a Lake County day care center where she worked in 2009.  Now, those X-rays, previously unknown to Melissa Calusinski’s defense lawyers at trial, form a central part of a petition filed in court Tuesday asking a judge to overturn the conviction of Calusinski, now 28, or grant her a new trial.

Mahmoud Ibrahim
A jury acquitted Mahmoud Ibrahim of Selinsgrove, PA of attempted murder and aggravated assault with regard to injuries to his infant son.  Defense expert Dr. John Galaznik testified that there could have been a medical reason for the child's injuries, and whatever happened to the infant occurred three to seven days earlier.  This was the first loss for the prosecution's expert, Dr. Paul Bellino, who has helped prosecutors obtain 200 convictions for shaken baby syndrome.

Peter Ranke.  Iowa City, Iowa
District Judge John Telleen has found Peter Ranke not guilty of shaking and injuring his newborn baby, sharply criticizing a doctor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for mishandling the investigation into the child's injuries.  "Frankly, I have some serious doubt whether a crime was even committed here," Judge Telleen said.

LeeVester Brown
The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for LeeVester Brown, of Coahoma County, Mississippi, who was convicted by the testimony of now-discredited Dr. Steven Hayne, citing the now-disputed Shaken Baby Syndrome.  His 2006 conviction was thrown out because the trial judge refused to provide him funds to hire an expert.  At trial, Brown told jurors he was innocent, saying he freely spoke to police “because I didn’t have nothing to hide because I know I didn’t do anything to hurt my baby.”

In 2007, when 4-month-old Lincoln Wilber died in her care, Jennifer Hancock of Verona, WI quickly became authorities' only suspect.  Dr. Michael Stier, who performed Lincoln's autopsy, testified the baby's subdural hematoma “was a marker for non-accidental type of injury.”  Now Jennifer is in the fifth year of a 13-year prison sentence, and he has changed his mind
Medical experts reviewing evidence in the 2007 death of 4-month-old Lincoln Wilber disagree about what may have caused the infant to become unresponsive while in the care of his provider, Jennifer Hancock.  New theories ranging from a heart virus to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to a blood clot have emerged.

Jennifer Del Prete,
a former Joliet, IL home day care worker convicted of shaking an infant to death will be released from prison after new evidence came to light that could point to her innocence.  In 2005, she was sentenced to the minimum 20 years for the death of 14-month-old Isabella Zielinski.   Her release is due in part to evidence discovered by Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project.  They  discovered a 2003 letter written by a police detective that stated the pathologist who performed the infant's autopsy had significant doubts that Del Prete had violently shaken the infant.  Hidden evidence of innocence.

In 2001, in Greece, NY, 2 1/2-year old Brittany died from a head injury sustained while in the care of Grace Bailey. 
Bailey told police Brittney had fallen from a chair and hit her head on the floor. Two little boys also in the day care that day later said the same thing, though both were judged too young to testify.  Bailey, now 54, was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder.  A hearing has been scheduled, with "full-blown hearing with expert testimony" has now been scheduled, to weigh the validity of the "shaken baby" evidence in light of new evidence to the contrary.  More SBS doubts.

Over the last 30 years, shaken-baby syndrome has come to be considered one of the most heinous forms of child abuse. Thousands nationwide have been prosecuted for harming or killing small children in this way.  The scales of justice in these cases often tip on the word of doctors who say they can discern that intentional shaking took place by the nature of the injuries suffered by the young victims.  Many physicians and prosecutors remain confident in those judgments, but some critics say those doctors can be wrong. They claim innocent people have been sent to prison.  Shaken baby science doubts grow.

After 11-month-old Melissa Mathes died in her care, Mary Weaver of Marshalltown, Iowa was charged with murdering the baby by shaking her.  She was tried, convicted, her conviction reversed and then she was acquitted at retrial, all in a relatively short time.  The case against Mary is a good example of false or misleading forensic evidence, perjury or false accusation.  20 years later, Mary's case is still garnering national attention.

When San Francisco prosecutors dismissed charges against Kristian Aspelin in early December, 2012, it became just the latest case to raise questions about how shaken baby syndrome is diagnosed. Aspelin, who was accused of causing the death of his infant son, had one thing in his favor: He had enough money to pay for medical experts who cast doubt on the prosecution's theory.  Dismissed case raises questions about shaken baby diagnosis.

In 2002, Drayton Witt of Maricopa County, Arizona, was found guilty of shaking his infant son to death. In the intervening 12 years, doctors have learned that ongoing medical problems like Steven’s can account for the retinal and subdural bleeding they used to assume was caused by shaking, or by shaking and blows to the head.  More importantly, the Medical Examiner who testified against him changed his mind.  The Arizona Court of Appeals has tossed Drayton's conviction, and barred the state from retrying him.  It has been a long road home.

In 1999, Pamela Jacobazzi, a Bartlett, IL day care provider, was convicted of killing 10-month-old Matthew Czapski after the child lapsed into a coma while in her care and later died.  She was sentenced to 32 years in prison for "shaking" the infant.  Matthew's pediatric records, however, show he had sickle cell trait and external hydrocephalus, factors not considered by the state's expert -- factors which could cause the child's death in precisely the manner it occurred.  Time for the state to admit its error.

In yet another case that should never have been charged, Michael Hansen of Alexandria, MN, convicted of killing his infant daughter in 2004, has won a new trial.  He was released on bail into the arms of his loved ones, telling the media, "I just want to be with my family."

UPDATE: September 16, 2011 -- The prosecutor has dropped all charges against Mr. Hansen.  He is a free man.

Related:  Ramsey County, MN is investigating the work of Dr. Michael McGee, who has served as the county's chief medical examiner for 26 years, after a Douglas County judge found he gave false testimony in a murder trial.  McGee's testimony helped secure the conviction of Michael Hansen for the murder of his infant daughter in 2004. Douglas County Judge Peter Irvine found in July that McGee gave false testimony about infant skull fractures and about an accident that occurred six days before the baby died.  Or was Dr. McGee just doing what was expected of him?

It took a jury only 2 hours to acquit former daycare provider Deborah Parlock, of Chesterton, Indiana, of shaking a 6-month-old child in her care and causing his death. The prosecutions experts, doctors with the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, insisted that retinal bleeding meant the baby had been beaten, even though he had no bruises or fractures.  (Yes, they get paid expert witness fees.)  Fortunately, jurors are beginning to see through the lack of evidence that permeates SBS cases.  A case that should never have been charged.

The quasi-diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) started in the UK, and became a cottage industry for prosecution experts there before leaping like a wildfire across the Atlantic to the U.S.  When Dr. Waney-Squier, a prominent British neuropathologist, re-examined the criteria she had used as a prosecution expert and realized it was wrong, she became the target of vicious personal and professional attacks.  And, as with the SBS "diagnosis" itself, Scotland Yard has carried the fight to the US.  Colin Welsh, lead investigator at Scotland Yard’s child abuse investigation command, told a US conference on SBS that defense experts should be banned from criminal and family court trials, because they confuse jurors and judges.  Meanwhile, Dr. Waney-Squier warns that  at least half of all parents tried over shaken baby syndrome have been wrongly convicted.

Quentin Louis of Athens, Wisconsin, who has been jailed for nearly six years, is one step closer to having a second chance to prove he didn't shake his infant daughter to death in 2005.  A local judge granted him a new trial in 2009 because the state's forensic pathologist changed his mind about the cause of the baby's injuries, but the state appealed and it took another two years for this decision, from the state court of appeals.  Quick to convict, slow to clear.

From the New York Times - Emily Bazelon examines the fierce disagreement and shift in mainstream medical thinking regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome.  SBS Faces New Questions in Court.

Shirley Ree Smith of Van Nuys, CA spent 10 years behind bars for the death of her grandson before her conviction was overturned. Now she waits on skid row as the courts sort out whether a jury's verdict — even if wrong — must prevail.  A pawn in a legal chess match.

Former foster mother Tenesia Brown looked ahead stoically for a full minute after a jury found her not guilty of murdering a baby in her care.  But then the verdict visibly sank in, as she tearfully hugged her attorney. Her husband, Marcus, on a bench just behind her, bowed his head and wept.  Fighting this charge for the past four years "was the toughest thing I've ever had to do because my wife was facing life in prison," Marcus Brown said after the verdict Friday night.  Not any more. Tenesia Brown walked out of the Pinellas County criminal courts complex facing no criminal charges for the first time since 2006.  And you wonder why people don't want to be foster parents?  No good deed goes unpunished.

An acquittal should have brought Brian Kalinowski's nightmare to an end. Instead, it continues for the 33-year-old Palatine, IL man found not guilty of shaking and seriously injuring his infant son.  Kalinowski and his wife, who has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, still face charges they abused and neglected their son, says defense attorney Lawrence Lykowski. This despite a finding of not guilty from Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Etchingham. A spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney confirmed an abuse case against the couple is pending in juvenile court.  They'll get you one way or another.

Quentin Louis of Athens, WI and Tammy Millerleile of Wausau, WI, both in Marathon County, were convicted of fatally shaking babies in 2005 and 2002, respectively.  But in August of 2009, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard vacated Louis' conviction and granted him a new trial based on a ruling that suggests medical evidence in shaken-baby cases is suspect. Prosecutors are appealing the decision to retry the Louis case, but in September, 2009, Howard also authorized payments for expert witnesses to review Millerleile's conviction.  Re-opening shaken baby cases to re-examine the science.

Fatima Miah of London, England, accused of shaking her baby son to death, walked free from court after a judge ordered jurors to clear her of manslaughter.  The judge said expert evidence was too divided for the jury to come to a conclusion as he threw out the charge. Legal experts said his decision would have serious implications for similar prosecutions up and down the country.  The science is flawed and contradictory.

More than 1,200 U.S. children are diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome and one in four of those children die from it.  Dr. Michael Laposata of Boston, MA believes in cases of potential Shaken Baby Syndrome, the medical community should perform a whole battery of blood tests rather than performing the simplest or most common tests to be absolutely certain of whether there's been child abuse.   Too easy to play the hero.

On the Thursday before Labor Day, 2007, while Julianna Caplan of Washington, DC was changing the diaper on one of her twins, she heard a dull thud. She turned around to see her other 8-month-old trying to push herself up from the floor, where she'd been playing, and knock her head.  There were no bumps or bruises, but over the next few hours, the little girl acted fussy, then altogether out of sorts. After she began throwing up and drifting off to sleep, her parents grew concerned, called the doctor and ended up at Children's Hospital.  The baby recovered fully within 24 hours, but  Caplan and her husband, Greg, remain trapped in the District's frightening child-abuse system.  Family Services Well Done, or Overdone?

In the UK, new medical evidence could clear childminder (babysitter) Keran Henderson, who is serving a three-year prison sentence after being convicted of shaking an 11-month-old girl to death.  That new evidence comes from this side of the Atlantic.  Dr Chris Van Ee, professor of biomechanics at Wayne State University in Detroit, claims tests with crash dummies and corpses show that falling off a sofa -- as the Caplan twin accidentally did -- does far more damage than shaking.  Conclusion: the science behind shaken baby syndrome is flawed.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed felony charges against Cecila Garcia Cortes, who was accused of assaulting her 4-month-old daughter who died early in April, 2009.  Chief Medical Examiner Ronald O’Halloran ruled that the death of Guadalupe Cardoza, from blunt-force trauma, was an accident. The death was attributed to an accidental fall.

Veronica Martinez Salcedo is a 38 year old nanny who was held in the Placer County, CA jail since May, 2006 charged with the second degree murder of 16 month old Hannah Rose Juceam. Her first trial lasted six months and ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. While she waited to be retried, the father of the deceased child waged a widely advertised campaign in attempts to deny Mrs. Salcedo of her rights to due process and presumption of innocence through billboards and a purportedly educational website.  After another hung jury and mistrial -- with jurors voting 9 to 3 to acquit -- prosecutors have decided not to try Veronica a third time. 

The murder case against Jeffrey Galford of Elkins, WV for the death of an infant in his care has been dismissed.  The child died in 2003.  State Medical Examiner Dr. James Frost conducted an autopsy and ruled the death homicide as the result of shaken baby syndrome.  The report, however, was not sent to the prosecutor until 2006, and Galford was indicted in 2007.  In early 2008, just before trial was scheduled to begin, Dr. Frost reviewed the child's full medical history -- something he had made no effort to do before declaring the death a homicide or in the years thereafter.  The baby's complex medical history led Dr. Frost to conclude no intentional act against the child could be proven.  Why the 5-year wait to review the baby's medical history?

The Evidence for Shaken Baby Syndrome
The theory of shaken baby syndrome rests on core assumptions: shaking is always intentional and violent; the injury an infant receives from shaking is invariably severe; and subdural and retinal bleeding is the result of criminal abuse, unless proved otherwise.  Retinal haemorrhage is one of the criteria used, and many doctors consider retinal haemorrhage with specific characteristics pathognomonic of shaking. However, in the March 27, 2004 issue of the British Medical Journal,  Patrick Lantz et al examine that premise and conclude that it "cannot be supported by objective scientific evidence." 

Read the British Medical Journal Case Report and Editorial (pdf files - use Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Perimacular retinal folds from childhood head trauma
by P. E. Lantz, et al.
BMJ Editorial
We Need to Question the Diagnostic Criteria

The National Association of Medical Examiners (N.A.M.E.) Ad Hoc Committee on Shaken Baby Syndrome published its
Position Paper on Fatal Abusive Head Injuries in Infants and Young Children in the American Journal of Forensic Pathology and Medicine in 2001.  This Position Paper is repeatedly cited and relied on to prosecute people because it states that SBS is an accepted diagnosis.  The Position Paper was rejected on peer review for lack of scientific basis -- but published anyway, since two of the authors were N.A.M.E. Board members.

Click HERE to read the peer review rejection for yourself
(pdf file - use Adobe Acrobat Reader).  This is a publicly available document which was obtained from the Ken Marsh (see below) case file.

In the UK, a review of nearly 300 cases in which parents were convicted of killing their young children has identified 28 where there was "sufficient cause for concern to warrant further consideration", the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, has told Parliament.  A further 89 cases of "shaken baby syndrome" will be reconsidered in the light of a judgment from the Court of Appeal expected in 2005, Lord Goldsmith promised.  Three pending prosecutions have already been abandoned "on the grounds that it was not safe to proceed".  SBS: Dubious Diagnosis

Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill were taken aback at results of a radiology study looking into early brain development.  MRIs of normal, healthy infants found intracranial bleeds in 26% of the babies.  Intracranial bleeding, which can cause serious brain damage or even death, is one of the hallmark characteristics of Shaken Baby Syndrome.  Or is it?

Dr. Patricia Moore, a former Harris County associate medical examiner accused of botching an autopsy that led to a young mother's imprisonment has come under scrutiny in several other cases in which her conclusions were later contested or revised.  Moore attributed infant deaths to shaken baby syndrome at a rate considerably higher than the rate at which it happens in the general population.  Biased Autopsies

In what experts say is the first such ruling in the nation, a Greenup (Kentucky) Circuit Court judge has barred the prosecution from introducing expert testimony that a baby was injured by shaking, unless there is other evidence of abuse.  Issuing identical rulings in two cases, Judge Lewis Nichols cited biomechanical studies that have concluded it's impossible for an adult to shake an infant hard enough to cause the injuries used to diagnose the syndrome -- hemorrhaging behind both retinas and hematomas, or pools of blood, in the membranes of the brain.  Not Letting Doctors Diagnose Legal Conclusions

Victims of Faulty Diagnoses by Dr. Charles Smith
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)

In Toronto, Ontario (Canada), errors were found in 20 of 45 autopsies, dating back as far as 1991, performed by former provincial pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.  
Twelve of those cases resulted in criminal convictions and one in a finding of not criminally responsible. 

The first to be exonerated was William Mullins-Johnson, who spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of his niece.  A 2005 review of Dr. Charles Smith's autopsy and diagnosis found the the child had not been raped or strangled, but choked to death on her own vomit caused by a chronic stomach ailment.

UPDATE:  10/15/07 - Mullins-Johnson officially found innocent.

Sherry Sherrett, one of the 12, convicted of killing her own infant son, is seeking a full public inquiry into Dr. Smith's work.  The 2006 review shows her son was not murdered. 

Louise Reynolds spent 2 years in jail awaiting trial after Dr. Smith said she stabbed her 7-year-old daughter, Sharon, to death with scissors.  Charges were dropped after it was demonstrated little Sharon was mauled by a pit bull.

In 1998, Dr. Smith accused Louise and Marco Trotta of suffocating their 4-month-old son, Paulo.  Louise served 5 years in prison; Marco was sentenced to 15 years, and had served 9 years when the review indicated little Paulo suffocated on his bedding.

CBC In Depth takes a closer look at Dr. Charles Smith: The Man Behind the Public Inquiry

UPDATE:  2/9/08 -  Dr. Smith South of the Border
On March 21, 2000, Christopher Fuller of Hamilton, Ohio told police his daughter Randi, almost 3 years old, choked on a glass of water and held her breath.  But after a grueling interrogation that was not recorded, police claimed Fuller confessed to killing Randi when she resisted his attempt to sexually assault her.  He was charged with capital murder, but the Hamilton authorities were apparently worried about getting the death penalty, so they brought in Dr. Death, Dr. Charles Smith of Ontario, Canada.  Smith was already under investigation for finding crimes where none existed in the deaths of children.  He came through for the Ohio boys.  The jury not only convicted Fuller, they recommended death.  Only Fuller's previously clean record saved him from execution, but he still languishes in prison, for the rest of his life.

Dinesh Kumar was told in 1992 by his lawyers
that the country's leading forensic pathologist - Charles Smith - was going to testify against him at his trial for murder in the death of his five-week-old baby, and that his chances of an acquittal were minuscule.  Although he knew he was innocent of causing any harm to his son, Dinesh accepted an extraordinarily lenient sentence -- 90 days in jail -- and pled guilty to criminal negligence causing death.  Now that Dr. Smith has been exposed as a quack, Dinesh is seeking to restore his good name.

Harold Levy, author of The Charles Smith Blog, tells us: I recently retired from the Toronto Star where I have been reporting on Dr. Charles Randal Smith - a former pediatric pathologist at the Hospital for Sick Children - for the past six years. I intend, through this blog, to periodically report developments relating to Dr. Smith in the context of the on-going public inquiry, the on-going independent probe of cases he worked on between 1981 and 1991, and cases which have been launched, or will be launched in the civil courts.  I am currently researching a book on Dr. Smith and would appreciate hearing from anyone who can provide me with useful information.

Dr. Daryl Steiner of Akron (Ohio) Children's Hospital has dedicated his career to ferreting out cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and leveling abuse allegations against parents and caregivers -- 275 of them, so far.  "The ramifications of my diagnosis are huge," says Dr. Steiner.  Indeed, they are -- families torn apart, parents sent to prison, to name a few.  Everyone says Dr. Steiner is never wrong.  But he has been proven wrong twice recently.  The fallibility of the infallible doctor.

Saying defense attorneys were ineffective, the Utah Supreme Court ordered a new trial Tuesday for a man convicted of fatally shaking his girlfriend's baby, who remained alive in a vegetative state for 12 years.  The court's decision focused on brain images of the boy, Luther Deem. A defense expert didn't see them until the morning of trial, and a judge said that person was unqualified to interpret them.  A fresh look at old evidence.

After being accused of shaking a baby boy to death last October, Cypress, CA neighborhood day-care operator Lorrie Mae Stoddard lost her livelihood, her standing in the community and many nights of sleep.  Prosecutors told a judge there was no evidence to back up the charges and the case was dismissed.  Deputy Dist. Atty. Sonia Balleste said a recent, more in-depth brain analysis showed that 4-month-old Noah Samuel Gusto of Cypress did not die from being shaken and that he suffered two of three brain hemorrhages before Stoddard ever came in contact with him at the day-care center in her Cypress home.  No shaking happened.

Dr. Patricia Moore, a former Harris County associate medical examiner accused of botching an autopsy that led to a young mother's imprisonment has come under scrutiny in several other cases in which her conclusions were later contested or revised.  Moore attributed infant deaths to shaken baby syndrome at a rate considerably higher than the rate at which it happens in the general population.  Biased Autopsies

UPDATE:  Brandy Briggs, accused by Dr. Moore of shaking her baby son to death, followed her lawyer's advice in 1999 and pled guilty to injury to a child.  Subsequent review demonstrated that the child died of natural causes, and was neither abused nor neglected.  Now the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals has thrown out Briggs' conviction based on her lawyer's Deficient Performance .

UPDATE: September 14, 2009 - The Harris County (Texas) Medical Examiner's office has quietly rewritten the results of a 1998 autopsy, prompting renewed innocence claims on behalf of a baby sitter sent to prison nearly a decade ago for allegedly shaking a 4-month-old infant hard enough to cause fatal injuries.  The original autopsy classified the baby's death as a homicide and was used by prosecutors as a key piece of evidence against Cynthia Cash, now 53, a former nurse convicted of fatal injury to a child after 4-month-old Abbey Clements died after being rushed to the hospital from Cash's home.   But the modified autopsy report made public in a new appeal calls the cause of death “undetermined” and found no evidence of “trauma” in the postmortem exam.  DA continues to back Dr. Moore, a team player.

Less than a month before Jamie and Ryan Page were to go on trial in Oshkosh, WI for homicide in the death of an infant for whom they provided day care, prosecutors have dismissed the charges.  The state continues to allege that the Pages caused the baby's death by shaking him, but says it can't prove which of them did the shaking.  Perhaps medical testimony in Audrey Edmunds' case (below) played a role.  Charges Dropped.

Audrey Edmunds, a former Waunakee, WI baby sitter imprisoned for nearly 10 years after being convicted in the shaken-baby death of a 7- month-old girl, is seeking a new trial, arguing that the scientific evidence used to convict her is no longer valid. "Since Audrey Edmunds' trial . . . a large body of new scientific evidence has emerged that supports her claim of innocence," according to a brief seeking a new trial for Edmunds filed by attorneys and law students for the Wisconsin Innocence Project.  "Classic" symptoms not accurate.

UPDATE: 1/26/07 - In a two-day hearing, six physicians challenged the medical validity of the evidence that convicted Audrey Edmunds in 1996.  Among them was the forensic pathologist who testified against her at trial.  No Confidence in SBS Diagnosis

UPDATE: 2/22/07 - Audrey Edmunds says life would have crushed her by now, if not for her faith in God -- and her belief that she will soon be reunited with her daughters.  The Human Toll of Flawed Science

UPDATE:  2/23/07 - In tense, combative testimony, a medical witness for the state forcefully rejected recent studies that raise doubts about shaken baby syndrome.  The combative testimony of Dr. Betty Spivack reflects the divide among physicians in shaken-baby cases. One camp believes certain signs and symptoms are proof of abuse, while the other side argues that such indicators also can be seen in children who've been sick or had minor accidents.  Defending the Conviction

UPDATE: 2/24/07- One of the physicians who cared for Natalie Beard at University (now UW) Hospital in the final hours of her life testified Friday he's certain that the 7-month-old was shaken to death and that the injury occurred shortly before she came to the hospital. "She died from inflicted traumatic brain injury -- that is, she was shaken," said Dr. William Perloff, retired head of pediatric intensive care for the hospital. "In her case, there was evidence of her head hitting a surface."
But That's More Than Simply Shaking, Doctor ...

UPDATE: 3/29/07 - Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser has denied Audrey Edmunds a new trial.  What it came down to, Moeser said, was whether there was a "reasonable probability" that a new jury, hearing the evidence presented earlier this year and in 1996, would've reached a different verdict. He determined it would not.  Edmunds supporter Michelle Urso of Waunakee said she believes one thing is true: "There is no doubt in my mind that there is an innocent woman sitting in jail. Not a single doubt."  And the Innocent Woman will Stay in Prison.

UPDATE: 1/24/08:  Twelve years after she was sent to prison on charges of shaking a baby to death, a former Waunakee day-care provider should get a new trial, a state appeals court has ruled.  New evidence in the case "shows that there has been a shift in mainstream medical opinion since Edmunds' trial as to the cause of the types of injuries Natalie (Beard) suffered," the three-judge panel unanimously ruled.  The Attorney General is mulling whether to appeal the ruling.

UPDATE:  The Attorney General decided not to appeal.  Audrey is finally a free woman.

Three days before he was to go on trial for the shaking death of his infant son, Andy Houser of Manchester, Tennessee was summoned to his lawyer's office.  Andy Houser had been a murder defendant for nearly two years. The allegation had already cost him heavily: his marriage dissolved, a hoped-for career in law enforcement evaporated, numerous friends abandoned him and strangers accusingly stared at him. And his son was dead, a victim of shaken baby syndrome, police said.  Houser knew life could get worse. In three days, prosecutors planned to spell out their explanation of how Ethan died at the hands of the father. A forensic pathologist would testify that Ethan's small brain was bruised on both sides and that clotted blood was present, a sign of fresh injury. In addition, tiny blood vessels on the surface of the baby's right eye had ruptured. Both are telltale signs of a shaken baby.  Defense attorney Robert Carter handed his puzzled client a piece of paper, a fax from the state medical examiner's office.  Near the top, in capital letters, were three powerful words, whose force still reverberate strongly in Coffee County: "Amended Autopsy Report."  Suspicion adds horror to father's grief for his baby

State of Florida vs. Brian Patrick Herlihy
Circuit Court of Florida, Eighth Judicial Circuit, Alachua County

Brian Herlihy was convicted of causing the death of Baby Robert, an infant in his care, by violently shaking the child.  None of the physicians who testified as experts for the state reviewed the baby’s prenatal and postnatal medical records to learn about his pre-existing health problems, his treatment with corticosteroid, or his adverse reactions to vaccines. some of these physicians were aware that Baby Robert suffered from chronic health conditions such as a chronic subdural bleed, brain atrophy, and sinus and ear infections. However, they did not make any attempt to investigate the links between the baby’s chronic illnesses and his respiratory arrest on the morning of August 2, 2000. The evidence also shows that Brian was convicted and imprisoned due to  sloppy and incomplete medical investigations.

Click HERE to read the report (MS Word format) of Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati, toxicologist and pathologist. Then decide for yourself, and demand justice for Brian Herlihy.
Brian Herlihy
Brian Herlihy

Ken Marsh
Ken Marsh spent 21 years in California prisons for a crime that never happened.  He was convicted in 1984 of murdering 2-year-old Kenneth Buell based on testimony of treating physicians -- with no independent corroboration -- who were seeking to protect themselves from malpractice claims.  His conviction was reversed without an evidentiary hearing based on insufficiency of the medical expert evidence.

Ken Marsh and his attorney, Tracy Emblem, have generously made available extensive forensic resources utilized in his case for the benefit of other innocent people facing similar charges.  Visit Free Ken Marsh

In 1999, Alan Yurko of Orlando, FL was convicted of shaking his 10-week-old son to death and sentenced to life without parole.  But the autopsy performed by Dr. Stashio Gore doesn't come close to minimum standard of care --  and Dr. Gore admits to all the Bad Science.

Link: Mary Beth Davis
Convicted of a Murder That Never Happened

Link: Alejandro Mendez
A Misdiagnosis Leads to Capital Murder Charge

California's 2nd Appellate District Court has overturned Jose Salazar's murder conviction in the death of Adriana Krygoski.  That conviction was based on the testimony of LA Dep. Coroner James Ribe, who claimed that "shaken baby" injuries -- in this instance, intracranial bleeding -- could be accurately "timed" and therefore used to identify the assailant.  This "theory" has been discredited by medical science.  It is just one of numerous cases in which Dr. Ribe has woven a Web of Deceit.

Victims of Dr. Joan Wood
For nearly a quarter century, the citizens of Florida's Pinellas and Pasco Counties suffered with an incompetent and corrupt Medical Examiner, Dr. Joan Wood.  Some suffered more than others.

John Peel
David Long

Little Donovan Wright’s death was a tragedy.  The tragedy was compounded by the testimony of a medical expert who claimed he could reliably time Donovan's critical injury to a period when the child was in the care of his father, Doug Wright.  Doug was convicted of killing his son.  Now the doctor acknowledges his testimony was faulty; he was wrong.  But he is unconcerned because he can't remember either Donovan or Doug. Forgotten by Justice

UPDATE:  4/9/07- Old Report Brings New Hope for Doug Wright.  A police accident report, withheld from the defense at the time of Doug's trial, proves that Donovan Wright was in a 99 mph car crash one month before his death.  Donovan did not receive medical care immediately after the crash, and could have sustained his ultimately-fatal injuries in the wreck -- not at the hands of his father.

Louis, 28, of Athens, WI was convicted in 2006 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison on accusations that he shook his 4-month-old daughter, Madelyn, to death.  In a written ruling released in August, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard vacated Quentin Louis' conviction on a first-degree reckless homicide charge and ordered that a new trial be scheduled.  Judge Howard found that medical advances in the past few years call the verdict into question.  The State, of course, is appealing this decision.

Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy
Another theory unsupported by objective scientific evidence
  MAMA/M.A.M.A.: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
What you don't know can destroy your family, send you to prison and even cost your children their lives.  

"Mama/M.A.M.A. " is a groundbreaking film that examines Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, a bizarre form of supposed child abuse in which a mother pretends her child is ill - or actually makes her child sick- in order to get the sympathy and praise of the medical community. The film scrutinizes the scientific research surrounding the allegation and, in so doing, questions the very diagnosis itself.  Visit the companion website.  See the film.  Protect yourselves and your children.

Any of the following may put a mother in the MSbP “frame”: if the doctor can find nothing wrong with the child; if tests are negative; if mum demands other opinions; if she has an “unhealthy” interest in things medical; if she exaggerates the child’s condition; and, of course, if she denies making it all up. For the health service, MSbP is a cheap solution to difficult cases. Some doctors call it a sexy diagnosis.  Catchphrase that Convicts Overanxious Mothers

UK: The cases of more than 250 parents convicted of killing their babies are to be reviewed urgently after a landmark Court of Appeal ruling on January 19, 2004 changed the rules on baby death prosecutions.  The Court ruled that in future no parent who had lost two or more babies should be prosecuted if the case relied solely on expert evidence that was disputed by other professionals who believed that the death could have been caused by natural, if unexplained, causes.  US Needs Similar Review

UK:  The cot death expert at the centre of a series of high profile cases against women accused of killing their babies is to face a professional conduct committee.  Sir Roy Meadow invented "Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome", a theory that has punished grieving parents and destroyed families on both sides of the Atlantic.  His pseudoscience continues to thrive in the US, but in the UK, authorities are questioning his Fitness to Practise

CBS 60 Minutes II examined just a handful of UK cases in which mothers were convicted of murdering their children on the word of Roy Meadow alone, without Meadow ever seeing the children or the mothers.  If you missed the segment, broadcast in April, 2004, you need to read the summary.  Expert Testimony, Bad Evidence

Child Protection and Social Care Management Consultant Charles Pagnell examines Fabricated and/or Induced Illness in Children (popularized by Sir Roy Meadow as "Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome") and finds the Theoretical Basis is Unsound

Unfounded Physical/Mental Abuse Allegations

Nicole Harris of Chicago, Illinois was 23 and a recent college graduate who had just moved back to Chicago with her family when she was convicted of murder in the 2005 death of her 4-year-old son Jaquari Dancy. But Harris has long maintained that the confession that helped convict her was false and that Jaquari died accidentally. 
Jaquari was found in the family's Northwest Side home with an elastic bedsheet cord wrapped around his neck. Her son Diante, then 5, told authorities at the time that he was alone with Jaquari when he saw him wrap the cord around his neck while playing, but the trial judge barred Diante from testifying.  But in the ruling overturning her guilty verdict, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges wrote that Diante's testimony "would have changed the entire tenor" of Harris' case and supported her claims that Jaquari's death was accidental and her confession false.  Finally free to grieve.

In April, 2007, an infant
suffered cardiac arrest shortly after arriving at the day care operated by Lisa Randall in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.  He was rushed to the hospital but died a few days later.  In November of that year, Lisa Randall was indicted by a grand jury for murder, based on the testimony of pediatricians who said the baby died due to blunt force trauma to his head.  When former DA Andrew Thomas faced stiff opposition in his bid for re-election, he upped the ante by seeking the death penalty against Lisa.  He lost, but Lisa still faced being sentenced to death.  Finally, three years after the child's death, two defense experts and a prosecution expert agreed that the child died from natural causes, and the charges against Lisa Randall were dismissed.  It's not an isolated incident in Maricopa County.

On October 2, 2006, Hannah Overton of Corpus Christi, TX and her husband rushed their foster son to a hospital, where the child died of salt poisoning related to
an eating disorder that led him to gorge and to consume strange objects.  Less than a year later, Hannah was convicted of capital murder based on the theory that she waited too long--less than an hour--before rushing the boy to the hospital.  Bennett Gershman, a nationally recognized expert on prosecutorial misconduct, reviewed Hannah's case and stated, “A conviction for capital murder can’t rest on such a flimsy, almost incredibly thin reed, as this one rests on. It rests on sand."

UPDATE:  On December 16, 2014, Hannah was released on $50,000 bond, pending the retrial that Nueces County DA Mark Skurka says he will pursue, again for capital murder.  Her release comes over two months after the highest appellate court in Texas overturned her murder conviction and life sentence.

UPDATE:  On April 8, 2015, all charges against Hannah were dismissed.

In 2005, Suzanne Holdsworth of Seacroft, Leeds, UK, was jailed for life for a little boy's murder. But a damning investigation by John Sweeney, a reporter with the London Daily Mail, found police had missed key evidence. Days after being found not guilty at re-trial and released, Suzanne told her haunting story to the man who helped clear her.  Justice Delayed.

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, exactly four years after officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services raided the primitive therapeutic camp in Smithville known as Woodside Trails and removed nearly 40 boys, camp administrator Betty Lou "Bebe" Gaines settled a federal lawsuit against nine DFPS employees. In her suit, Gaines charged the officials had deprived her of due process rights in branding her neglectful of her wards, closing the camp, and effectively ending her career.  Vindication.

Madison County, Mississippi officials have dropped murder charges against Hattie Douglas in connection with the death of her son Kadarrius.  Initial test results showed that Douglas' son had an alcohol level of 0.4 percent when he died May 11, 2006. But an independent pathologist's report said tests came back with conflicting results. The independent pathologist ruled the child died of pneumonia.  A doctor prescribed an iron supplement for Kadarrius, which contained a small percentage of alcohol.  Hattie still faces a battle to get her four other children back.

After nearly two years of hell following the tragic death of their 14-year-old daughter, the criminal cases against Lynnette and Roman Finnegan of Franceville, IN have been dropped.  Charges Dismissed

Lynnette and Roman Finnegan
thought the worst was over when they buried their little girl. But at a time when the family tried to pull together, it was torn apart by criminal charges.  Bout with legal system breaks family's hearts.

But how much damage can be caused when a teenager dies because of medical malpractice, an incompetent forensic pathologist can't tell the difference between pre-mortem injuries and artifacts of autopsy, and a "child protection" system marches on in its destruction of the family, in blind disregard of the findings that the death was caused by medical malpractice?  Roman and Lynette Finnegan know, and they tell us, In Their Own Words.

Twelve-year-old J. Daniel Scruggs of Meriden, Connecticut was bullied so relentlessly at school that the Conn. Dept. of Children and Families, after inspecting his home, suggested his mother keep him out of school until a transfer could be arranged.  A few days later, the boy hanged himself in his closet.  Then the local prosecutor charged his grieving mother, Judith Scruggs, with keeping such a dirty house that it prompted the boy to commit suicide.  A jury agreed and convicted Scruggs of causing her child's suicide.  The Connecticut Supreme Court has overturned her conviction -- So Little, So Late.

The Darke County, Ohio prosecutor has said he is closing the homicide investigation into the death of 5-year-old Daniel Crow Jr. because a rare genetic disease may be the cause of the boy's death, not abuse.  It's too late for the rest of the family.  Their other children were seized by the state and adopted by other families. 
Officially Sanctioned Abuse

At first, Verlie Hicks of Peoria, Illinois was frightened and confused when she was arrested, held naked in a mental health unit at the Peoria County Jail because she refused to remove braids from her hair, and falsely accused of burning a baby in her care with cigarettes. Now she's angry and is looking for a lawyer.  Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Through the prism of a defamation suit, a federal judge in Atlanta has examined the 1996 murder case of 6-year-old Colorado beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey and determined there is "virtually no evidence" to support theories that her parents killed her.  U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes, a former federal prosecutor, evaluated evidence that the Ramseys, Patsy Ramsey in particular, were responsible for their daughter's slaying. In her analysis, Carnes sharply criticized the botched investigation that followed the discovery of JonBenét's body; accused Boulder police of using the media to target the Ramseys; and stated that the Ramseys, despite widespread criticism to the contrary, attempted to cooperate fully with detectives investigating their daughter's murder.

  Five years after Judge Carnes figured it out, two years after Patsy Ramsey  died, Boulder County, CO DA Mary Lacy has cleared
JonBenét Ramsey's parents and brother of any involvement in her death.  "No innocent person should have to endure such an extensive trial in the court of public opinion," she told John Ramsey.  "Touch DNA" makes it official.

Link:  Brian Peixoto: Struggle for Innocence - Convicted of murder for accidental injuries that occurred outside his presence.

False Allegations of Sexual Abuse
Michael Seri.  In 2001, Michael Seri of Newtown, CT was charged with masturbating in front of a 15-year-old Girl Scout at the town’s public library, even though the victim described her attacker as a Hispanic man with dark hair, while Seri was white and balding. The girl failed to pick Seri out of a police lineup.  At trial, however, she and two witnesses identified Mr. Seri as the perpetrator.  In June, 2002, while Mr. Seri was in prison, another girl saw a Hispanic man masturbating at the same library.  With help from his uncle, a retired FBI agent, Mr. Seri was able to show that a convicted sex offender committed both crimes.  Even with that, it took Mr. Seri until 2015 to completely clear his name.

Mario Vasquez
.  In 1998, Mario Vasquez of Green Bay, WI was convicted of molesting a 4-year-old girl.  Seventeen years later, the victim, now 21 years old, says that her uncle and her father molested her, but Mr. Vasquez did not.  His conviction has been overturned and he has been freed.

Satanic Ritual Abuse
Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller of Austin, TX were supposed to have committed while running a day care center out of their Texas home: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; killing dogs and cats in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by soldiers in the Mexican army; dressing as pumpkins and shooting children in the arms and legs; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; cutting the arm or a finger off a gorilla at a local park; and exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.  Unbelievable -- but a jury convicted them and sent them to prison for 48 years.  Now even the DA agrees their trial was unfair.  But it was not isolated.  It was part of modern-day witch hunt.  What the hell happened?

UPDATE:  June 20, 2017 - Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore filed a motion to dismiss the case against the Kellers.  Click HERE to read complete report, including highlighted comments from relevant experts.

Jonathan Montgomery
Jonathan C. Montgomery went to prison solely on the word of a teenager who claimed the former Hampton, Virginia resident sexually assaulted her when she was 10 years old.  Alarms sounded from the courthouse to the governor's office this month when it was learned she lied. Of the questions raised by the tragic case, one of the most serious is how Montgomery was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez and Cassandra Rivera
Sitting in the Texas prison where she's spent nearly half of her life, Elizabeth Ramirez is stunned by the words that could help exonerate her and three friends of the sexual assault of her two nieces, a crime she said she couldn't fathom let alone commit.  It never happened, one niece now says of the debauched, orgy-like nightmare that she and her older sister described to San Antonio police in 1994 when they were 7 and 9.  “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.”

UPDATE:  November 17, 2013 - Three of the four San Antonio women, now known as the “San Antonio Four,” could be released on bond by a judge Monday, November 18th. They have maintained their innocence since being accused in the bizarre assault of Ramirez's two young nieces nearly 20 years ago. Vasquez was released on parole last year.

UPDATE: November 24, 2016 - Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez were exonerated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Jeffrey Havard.
Ten years ago, a Jackson, Mississippi jury convicted Jeff Havard of brutally raping and killing six-month-old Chloe Britt while he was caring for her, and he was sentenced to death.  After all, pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne testified the baby had been raped, and police said she was "ripped from end to end."  Turns out, no, that's not what happened.  Baby Chloe was not sexually abused; she died because of a tragic fall.  But Jeff Havard still awaits execution.

UPDATE:  April 2, 2015 -- The Mississippi Supreme Court unanimously ruled that death row inmate Jeffrey Havard can proceed with an evidentiary hearing to challenge his murder conviction.  A favorable ruling in that hearing could then result in a new trial.

Dale Duke
A Dallas man who spent 14 years in prison for doggedly refusing to admit he sexually assaulted his stepdaughter was set free on November 4, 2011 in a case that had been unraveling since the victim recanted and former prosecutors were accused of withholding evidence.  State District Judge Susan Hawk told Dale Lincoln Duke, 60, it was a "privilege" to release him, triggering applause and a standing ovation in a courtroom that included his parents.

Arena Brothers

Below are links to recent articles concerning the Arena Brothers of Bell County, Texas.  Michael Arena’s case is pending before the Supreme Court.  John Arena’s cause has been taken on by the Innocence Project of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Criminally Innocent
by Jordan Smith - Austin Chronicle
November 10, 2010

Sex Abuse Cases Going to Texas Supremes
by Jordan Smith Austin Chronicle
December 10, 2010

One Last Visit for Mother & Son?
by Jordan Smith, Austin Chronicle
July 14, 2011

Sean Lanigan.  A year after being acquitted of molestation charges lodged by a student angry over being disciplined, Fairfax County, Virginia Sean Lanigan is still suffering -- and still being punished by the Fairfax County School Board.

Jesse Friedman
Prosecutors' failure to disclose that hypnosis was used to help a witness recover memories of alleged sex abuse as a child does not invalidate a defendant's guilty plea, a federal appeals court has ruled.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant the habeas petition sought by Jesse Friedman, who was seeking to undo his 1988 guilty plea in a molestation case that rocked Nassau County, N.Y., and became the subject of the documentary "Capturing the Friedmans."  While the Court denied the appeal, the judges urged the Nassau DA to reopen the case.

Jodi Barrus.  On July 30, 2010, it took a jury 20 minutes to decide Belmond Klemme, Iowa teacher Jodi Lynn Barrus' fate.  She was found not guilty of engaging in a pattern, practice or scheme of sexual exploitation of an 18-year-old male student.  The teen had a history of making up stories.

Tonya Craft, Former Georgia Teacher, Acquitted of Molestation Charges

Links on the Tonya Craft witch hunt in Catoosa County, Georgia:  Truth for Tonya and William L. Anderson Blog

Daniel Velez walked into Superior in Milford, CT on April 29, 2010, accused of committing vile acts against a child, but walked out a free man, exonerated of all charges against him.  At the end of a four-day trial, a jury deliberated for just two hours before finding Velez, 45, of New Haven, CT, innocent of raping a 9-year-old male relative in the boy’s West Haven home.  But the allegation alone is poison.

In 2008, Waynesville, NC resident Donald “Pete” McCracken Jr., 40, was indicted on a charge of first-degree rape — a B1 felony that, at the time, carried a minimum sentence of 16 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of up to life without parole. 
Almost 14 months later, the alleged victim recanted the accusation and the charge against McCracken was dismissed. He was declared innocent. But it cost him more than $100,000 and a “year of hell” to clear his name. Still, he fears his reputation may be tainted beyond repair.  The high cost of innocence.

"Paul Parks" spent almost three years in prison for molesting his two young daughters. He spent another 15 years living with the stigma of being a registered sex offender. 
All because of what they now say is a lie.  In 2008, his now-adult daughters changed their story and he was exonerated. Such recantations are not unusual, but being declared innocent by the courts is rare. "I didn't want to die with a lie."

A Battle Creek, MI judge has ordered a new trial for Lorinda Swain, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence since being accused of a sex crime with her son. 
Judge Conrad Sindt ordered the new trial after hearing two days of testimony that included new witnesses and her son, who recanted his original statement.  Saying what they wanted to hear.

UPDATE:  May 1, 2011 - In 2010, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed Judge Sindt, reinstating Lorinda Swain's conviction.  The state supreme court declined to hear the matter, and she will have to return to prison to complete her 25 year sentence.

UPDATE: - The Michigan Court of Appeals reinstated Lorinda's conviction, and in December, 2010, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear her case.  She will be headed back to prison, despite the overwhelming evidence of her innocence.  Click HERE for the Detroit Free Press editorial regarding this travesty.

UPDATE:  Aug. 23, 2013 -  Judge Sindt, after hearing the testimony of another witness who had been suppressed at trial, has again reversed Lorinda's conviction.  Prosecutor Susan Maladenof can appeal Judge Sindt’s order again, try the case with no witnesses and no physical evidence, or dismiss the charges.

In 1980, a teenage girl saw Donald Burke on a city street and identified him as the man who had raped her more than a year earlier.  To his horror, Donald, who has asserted his innocence from the first day, was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.  He was released in 1999, but wears the Sex Offender scarlet letter, a badge of shame he has not earned.  He wants DNA to set him free.

UPDAE:  September 22, 2009:  Unfortunately, no DNA could be extracted from hair samples by conventional testing, according to a state crime lab report received by Mr. Burke's attorney.

Link:  "By the time he was taken off to prison in 1994, payouts for such claims against priests promised to surpass the rosiest dreams of civil attorneys.... By the end of 2004, the Diocese audit showed a total of $22,210,400 -thus far- in settlements." The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2005.  Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae

UPDATE:  May 10, 2013:  Wall Street Journal  Editorial Board Member Dorothy Rabinowitz examines Fr. Gordon MacRae's conviction, and finds it without foundation.  The Trials of Fr. MacRae.

In 1989, Larry Murphy of Yadkin, NC was convicted of sexually molesting his daughter.  In 2002, Julie Murphy, as an adult, recanted her allegations against her father.  Although Larry was convicted based on Julie's word alone, her recantation is not enough to free him.
Yadkin man accused by his daughter of sex abuse up for parole; her recantation failed to persuade officials to reconsider his case 'You can't change the past. You just have to live with it'

It had taken Dana Nachman and Don Hardy three years and $20,000 — most of which they had charged to their bruised and battered credit cards — to prepare their documentary, "Witch Hunt," for a run at the major film festivals.  Then it took another year to get the documentary, a look at wrongful convictions that sent several Bakersfield, California residents to prison on false child molestation charges, past rejection by the Tribeca Film Festival, and shown at the Los Angeles and Toronto film festivals.  How the cops brainwashed the kids.  Click HERE to view trailer (youtube.com).

It used to be that all you needed for a conviction was a vague allegation of sexual abuse by a very young child and a signed confession by a day care worker.  But jurors in Franklin, NC are picky.  In Michael Bradley's case, they demanded actual evidence.  All that the state could give them was the word of a detective who thinks he can tell in minutes if someone is guilty and will use harsh techniques against a timid person to coerce a conviction to a crime that may not have happened at all.  Their verdict:  Not Guilty.

Imagine this scenario: Your employer gives you a laptop computer that is a ticking time bomb full of child porn, and then you get fired, and then you get prosecuted as some kind of freak.  That's what happened to Massachusetts state employee Michael Fiola.  Now defense and prosecution computer experts agree
that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.  It was a bum rap.

Since Fiola's employer, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), provided him with the infected laptop in the first place, you'd expect an apology and an offer of reinstatement, right?  Wrong!  The DIA stands by the wrongs it has committed against Fiola.

Just when you think you've seen it all ... Ted White of Lee's Summit, MO served 5 years of a 50-year sentence after he was falsely convicted of sexually molesting his step-daughter.  His conviction was overturned in 2005, and he was acquitted at re-trial.  Lee's Summit police detective Richard McKinley, who was having an affair with White's then-wife, Tina, framed White on false charges to get rid of him.  Tina subsequently married McKinley, and Ted White is suing them both.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has ruled that White has a right to sue.

It started with a phone call from CPS, telling North Texas home builder Douglas Buchar that his 12-year-old adopted daughter had accused him of sexually assaulting him.  Over the next two years, his wife was also charged, although the charges were dismissed, and the couple lost their business, their home and their two biological children.  A jury has found him not guilty of the sexual assault charge.  But getting his kids back is a separate, uphill battle.

Brooklyn, NY  school custodian Francis Evelyn once walked proud, worked hard and looked forward to a peaceful retirement. 
Now he's too scared to go out his front door.  Five months after his face was broadcast worldwide as an accused child rapist, Evelyn, 58, can't sleep. He can't stop the tears. He can't wipe away the nightmare of being arrested, jailed and wrongly accused.  Custodian falsely accused of child rape sues for $10 Million.

The nightmare began for Rodger Jones of Orlando, Florida in August of 2004, when his youngest daughter accused him of molesting her, a charge Jones absolutely and unequivocally denies.  His first trial ended in a hung jury.  Jones was convicted at his second trial in 2005, a conviction that the Fifth District Court of Appeals concluded rested on claims that Jones committed more serious offenses in another jurisdiction -- claims that were never charged, much less proven.  When the Court of Appeals reversed Jones' conviction, the Orange County judge continued to refuse to allow Jones' release from prison.  The Court of Appeals had to order his release. 

Jones, who is awaiting his third trial on the same charges, tells us:  "I am 54 years old and must have been sleeping all those years not to realize that the trial courts and the prosecutors in this country are so corrupt only looking for the conviction and not the truth. The people of this country need to be told about the state of affairs in the judicial system in this country. Until this happened to me I thought that this country was a very good country to live in. The people of this country need to vote to change the system back to what our founding fathers wanted. Without the knowledge of the broken system though people will not know to make the changes.
"  Click HERE to read the Court of Appeals decision.

Elizabeth Golebiewski was 23 in 1983 when a Lucas County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court jury convicted the North Toledo woman of using a toy gun to sexually assault her daughter and then killing her. 
A convicted thief testified at trial that Elizabeth had confessed to her during conversations in jail that she had killed the child, offering grisly details that authorities contend only investigators and the killer would have been aware of at the time.  Elizabeth's request for DNA testing of the toy gun and other evidence has been granted.  And, while it is a long shot, DNA tissue from someone other than the mother or child might just be enough to prompt a judge to review the 1983 conviction.  Hard Won Long Shot

It took egregious misconduct by both police and prosecutors to hold together a case against teacher James Perry long enough for a jury to convict him of molesting 2 kindergarteners in suburban Detroit's Oakland County.  Well, it was either deliberate misconduct or these folks really believe that "Harry Potter" and "The Lion King" are "nonerotic pornography."  If you need your hair curled, read the following news reports:

In Bakersfield, CA, Kern County DA Ed Jagels put two dozen innocent people behind bars on charges that they molested their own kids -- while ignoring evidence that his friends were throwing orgies with teenage boys. So why is one of America's most reckless prosecutors still in power?  Mean Justice's Dirty Secrets

Before national attention brought a halt to the worst witch hunt in U.S. history, 43 adults were falsely arrested on 29,726 fabricated charges of child sex abuse involving 60 children.  Parents, Sunday school teachers and a local pastor were indicted and many were convicted of raping their own children and the children of other members of a sex ring. Innocent people were railroaded into prison, and their children were sold into foster care.  Conservative Columnist Paul Craig Roberts details How a Mantra Ate Justice

Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen were convicted of sexually abusing young children in August of 1994.  Smith, a 37-year-old single mother with four children, was a bus driver for the Lorain, Ohio Head Start.  The prosecution charged that after delivering the children to school, she would sometimes keep three or four of them and take them to a mysterious location, where she and a man known to the children only as "Joseph" would commit various sexual acts with them, make them drink urine, and poke them with needles and sticks.  But an examination of the police investigation leaves many disturbing questions; questions about the children's testimony, questions about whether Smith and Allen even knew each other -- questions about whether, in fact, any crimes were committed at all.  Imaginary Crimes

UPDATE:  2/22/07 -
Nancy Smith’s bid for freedom Tuesday was rejected for a number of reasons, including a parole board official’s opinion that she hadn’t served enough time after being convicted of molesting children while she was a Head Start bus driver in the 1990s.  They Want a Confession to Crimes She did not Commit

UPDATE:  2/4/09 - Investigator Martin Yant, who has helped to free 12 innocent people, has worked on
Nancy Smith's case for 13 years.  He has obtained piles of evidence that prove her innocence of charges she molested four young children. That evidence can get Nancy a re-trial, or at least re-sentencing.  Shining Light on Abuse-Hysteria Conviction.

UPDATE:  2/4/09 - Nancy Smith freed on bond.

UPDATE:  6/24/09 - Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen Acquitted.

UPDATE: 1/29/11 - Ohio Supreme Court reinstates Nancy Smith's conviction, orders her returned to prison.

UPDATE:  12/11/09:  Merry Christmas, Nancy and Joseph.  The Ohio Attorney General has joined local prosecutors to challenge the acquittals of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen.  In court documents filed with the 9th District Court of Appeals, they claim that Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge didn’t have the authority to acquit them.  The State of Ohio wants Nancy and Joseph back in prison.  It's not about truth.  It has nothing to do with justice.  It's about winning, and maintaining every win at all costs.

In October, 2004, Kevin Fox of Wilmington, Illinos was arrested following a 14-hour interrogation in which investigators said he confessed to molesting and murdering his 3-year-old daughter Riley in June of the same year.  The prosecutor, just days away from a hotly contested re-election bid that he ended up losing, vowed to seek the death penalty.  A sheriff's officer called the FBI Lab at Quantico, Virginia in November and told them to stop working on DNA evidence sent there for analysis.  Kevin's attorney convinced the new prosecutor to send the evidence to a private lab for testing, and the DNA test results "absolutely" exclude Kevin.  Charges that could have led to his execution have been dropped.  Riley's killer remains free.  Political Overkill

UPDATE:  5/28/10 - Riley Fox's killer, identified by DNA as Scott Wayne Eby, has been charged with abducting the 3-year-old from her own bed, raping and murdering her.  After putting the Fox family through hell with the bogus charges against Kevin, then losing a $15.5 Million lawsuit for malicious prosecution, Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas has apologized to the Foxes.  Well, sort of.  He had a spokesman do it on his behalf.  So Little, So Late.

When he was convicted in 1985 of raping five children, Bernard Baran of Pittsfield, MA joined the ranks of a new kind of criminal gripping the nation's attention: a child molester who used his job at a daycare to prey on his victims.  Two decades after he began serving three life sentences, a Superior Court judge has ruled that Baran should receive a new trial, and his supporters are hopeful that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.  Hoping to Prove His Innocence

Former Vancouver, WA police officer Clyde Ray Spencer spent nearly 20 years in prison after he was convicted of sexually molesting his son and daughter. Now, the children say it never happened.

Cases to Consider

Wenatchee, WA Sex Abuse Cases

More on Wenatchee
Victims of the Fury

Jennifer Wilcox & Robert Aldridge

Peggy McMartin Buckey

George Lindstadt

Joe Kennedy

Bruce McLaughlin

A Wisconsin Grandfather

Made-Up Story = Life in Prison
UPDATE: Recanting Witness not Enough

John Stoll
This is a very disturbing case that may give ammunition to those who fear that juvenile courts, where there is less advocacy, less investigation, less use of DNA testing, and great pressure to plea bargain, may be a breeding ground for wrongful convictions, particularly false confessions and false guilty pleas.

John Michael Harvey
Eleven years into a 40 year sentence, John's innocence is finally being examined.
But the former Assistant DA who hid evidence and coached a child to lie is off the hook.

UPDATE:  John Michael Harvey Freed

A Harris County, Texas prosecutor says faulty physical exams performed by a former nurse may have resulted in wrongful conviction of some defendants in child sex abuse cases.  170 Potential Wrongful Convictions

For James Rodriguez, the only way to freedom was to confess to sex crimes he — and one of his alleged victims — says he did not commit.  Predator or Prey?

San Joaquin County, California Superior Court Judge Stephen Demetras ordered the release of 36-year-old Peter Rose after 10 years of incarceration.  Convicted of sexually assaulting a 13 year-old Lodi girl in 1994, Rose was sentenced to 27 years in prison.  With no history of violent crime or sexual assault, Rose has maintained his innocence from the beginning.  DNA testing has proved him right.  It has also shown the tragic results when police browbeat a child into accusing the person they have already decided is guilty.

Sylvester's case is yet another example of how pressuring children to make false allegations leads to wrongful convictions.  In 1984, two young girls were molested by their cousin who was also a juvenile.  Their grandmother, thinking the cousin would be sent to prison, convinced the girls to accuse Sylvester Smith instead.  Now grown, the victims have recanted and are supported by the trial testimony of one of them -- she told the defense attorney her grandmother said to accuse Smith.

A couple who became fugitives in 1984 following accusations that they abused their 4-year-old daughter left jail feeling vindicated after prosecutors dropped the charges, but said their lives had been ruined.  Edward and Karri LaBois fled Minnesota with their daughter 19 years ago after the abuse accusation was made. They were arrested in 2003 when an informant tipped police that they were living in a Salt Lake City suburb.  Sex Abuse Witch Hunt Scam

Gerald Amirault and the Fells Acres Witch Hunt
Parole Board Recommends Release
Gov. Denies Parole: Still the Witch Trial State
Cheryl Amirault LeFave
Fells Acres Chronology
  Gerald Amirault's Freedom


Did Daddy Do It?
New Evidence Calls an "Ironclad" Conviction into Question

Defense of Child Molestation Charges
by Joel Erik Thompson, Esq.

A WGBH Forum Network Lecture - Remembering Trauma
Richard J. McNally, professor, psychology, Harvard
Belle Adler, professor, Northeastern School of Journalism

Are horrific experiences indelibly fixed in a victim's memory? Or does the mind protect itself by banishing traumatic memories from consciousness? How victims remember trauma is the most controversial issue in psychology today, spilling out of consulting rooms and laboratories to capture headlines, rupture families, provoke legislative change, and influence criminal trials and civil suits. A clinician and laboratory researcher, Richard McNally challenges the ready acceptance of a notion he says goes beyond common sense. He contends that traumatic experiences are indeed unforgettable and the evidence for repressed memories is surprisingly weak.

Re-examining the Process
Michael G. Brock, MA, LLP, CSW is licensed as both a master’s level psychologist and a certified social worker. He is in private practice at Counseling and Evaluation Services in Wyandotte, MI. Brock has been in the therapy field since 1974 and, in the past five years, custody evaluations have become the majority of his practice. Brock has done over 200 evaluations.  Brock re-examines how the criminal justice system balances---or fails to balance---the interests of truth and justice with those of child protection.
Due Process is Good Psychology
The Pitfalls of Expert Testimony
The Yakov Trakhtenberg case in Michigan illustrates what is wrong with the way child sex abuse cases are handled in this country.  When an allegation is made and forensic interviewing of the child finds no abuse, the case need not end there.  There is no limit to the number of subsequent allegations that can be made, and each one triggers reinvestigation.   Michael Brock, MA, LLP, CSW explains how this allows vindictive spouses to wage war against the other parent, using tunnel-vision police investigators to do so.  And it's just the Tip of the Iceberg.

Michael Brock, MA, LLP, CSW, examines the use of "facilitated communication,"  or FC, a process in which a "facilitator" holds the hand of a disabled person over a keyboard so the non-vocal person can "communicate" by typing messages. As FC gained popularity among families with autistic children, a flood of false sexual and physical abuse allegations against parents and siblings followed. Studies have determined that FC is invalid, junk science, because it is the facilitator, not the disabled person, who determines what is typed.  Yet prosecutors and judges ignore laws that require evidence to have scientific validity, and allow cases built on this demonstrated junk to proceed.  Has the law become an inconvenient truth?

Michael Brock,
MA, LLP, CSW, Stating the Obvious(Click the title; document is in Word format.)  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals finds the obvious, that a man whose teenage daughter falsely accused him of sexual abuse to keep him from marrying a woman she detested received ineffective assistance from lawyers who failed to investigate the daughter's credibility.

Also from Michael Brock,
MA, LLP, CSW and Michael Trager, J.D., Hypothetical Questions for Cross Examining Mental Health Witnesses in Sex Abuse Cases. (Click the title; document is in Word format.) "Must reading" for attorneys representing clients charged with child sex abuse with no physical evidence of abuse.

Michael G. Brock, MA, LLP, CSW examines False Allegations of Sexual Abuse:  What Can Be Done?

In November, 2003, Pennsylvania voters voted to deny criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers in court.  They probably felt there would be no cost to themselves.  But if we let witnesses avoid accountability in criminal proceedings, we all will pay a high price, eventually.  No Accountability

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More Resources

Shaken Baby Defense

Abuse Excuse

False Memory Syndrome Foundation  

In Plano, Texas
Stuckle and Ferguson

False Memory/Recovered Memory
Recommended Reading from Stop Bad Therapy

Psych Law Net

False Rape Society Blog



Truth in Justice