Monday, December 7, 2009

Wrongful Imprisonment-False Claims of Sexual Abuse

Here, at Bad Lawyer Blawg I have often commented on the claims of false allegations of child sexual abuse and one might conclude from my comments that I don't believe that false allegations happen.  Wrong.  Based on my experience, false allegations of any crime, are not uncommon, including rape and child molestation.

Years ago I had someone I respect connected with social services tell me that a certain agency's experience was that most allegations of child sex abuse arising in divorce disputes were unreliable, while, most allegations, not involving domestic relations proceedings were reliable.  The statistics seem to support this general rule, I've never been comfortable throwing around statistical data for rhetorical purposes--but, I think the overall observation by my friend, the social science expert is true.

Experientially, I can attest to representing many children of child sex molesters/monsters in which there was overwhelming evidence of the crimes committed by the parent.  Likewise, there are many situations that I reviewed that I was declined to pursue because the only evidence of the molestation was the estranged spouse's suspicion that something occurred.   There are situations that I reviewed where I suspected that something did happen but the custodial parent was herself, so "borderline" that proceeding with the Mom as the adult guardian representative of the child-victim would be certain disaster--in which case the only step was to refer the matter to children protective services agencies.

When I think about the monsters that my colleagues and I did go after and did catch, I still get chills.  I don't think it is too strong a word to describe the childhood of these children as individual holocausts.  Horror shows of terror and physical injury that go on for years and in many cases that I encountered, generations.

So when you read about someone genuinely falsely accused, prosecuted, and incarcerated I feel a similar outrage.  Other than death, is there anything worse than to be a victim of this rape?  Certainly being falsely accused of being the perpetrator of a sex crime against children, being prosecuted and jailed for years--is a horror in itself.  So we have the story from Alabama Online, this morning of the surviving spouse's lawsuit seeking compensation following the wrongful imprisonment of her late husband, Robert Doyle.  Let me quote Alabama Online:  "Robert Doyle was making about $49,000 a year as a salesman for an insurance company in Montgomery before his ex-wife accused him of sexually abusing the two girls. In 1992, a Montgomery jury convicted him of abusing the two, ages 7 and 9, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison."  

Get this, the prosecutor in the case resulting in the wrongful imprisonment of Robert Doyle--is now a Montgomery County, Alabama,  Judge.  Judge Graddick (who also served a term as Alabama's Attorney General) was the ex-wife's divorce attorney in a bitterly contested divorce action.  So here we have an attorney who represented a woman in a case against her husband, then he becomes the prosecutor and prosecutes the ex-husband on false allegations stemming from the divorce and resulting in the wrongful imprisonment of the ex-husband.  Conflicts of interest, appearance of impropriety?  Your turn, Judge Graddick!



  1. I am not Mr Doyle's former wife, not do I speak for her or his daughters but I feel I need to comment on your post. You have sooooo many of the BASIC facts wrong on this case, I wouldn't even know where to start, but, I will try. Firstly, the divorce and child custody case had been over for several years and he gave up custody of the kids in exchange for $$$$. Even Mr Doyle's medical expert agreed that the duaghters had been "horribly abused". Secondly, Mr. Graddick was NOT his former wife's attorney in the divorce. His firm represented the daughters in a civil action against Mr Doyle and others who failed to follow the child abuse reporting laws years before the charges were ever actually filed. Mr. Doyle was also suspected in the abuse of several other children whose parents refused to cooperate with the police and District Attorney's offices. His convictions were overturned due to a technicality and the only reason there was not a retrial is that his daughters were getting on with their lives and chose not to proceed with the retrial. These are only a few of the problems with the above entry. I would strongly suggest you make at least a superficial attempt at getting the facts right.

  2. Thank you, for your comment. If you would care to please leave a citation to a source or reference. As you will see I left two sources; and, the assertions made in the post came from those sources. I'll be more than happy to make whatever amendments called for by credible sources.

  3. I am going thru such an outrageous injustice. My Father has been accused of sexually abusing the daughter of his since former wife. Shortly after he was arrested his wife moved her boyfriend into my father's house and filed for divorce... How horrible for her that the kids also accused her last husband of the same thing. During the trial the child was asked to describe the event to which she replied "I dunno but I'm sure it happened"! There was no tangible evidence. No proof, just heresy!! His biological children (we have known him for 30+ years and know that this is all false) were never asked to speak. He was sentenced to life without parol to a max security prison. Now 5 years of appeals and appeals (all resulting in the state winning) has been devastating to our family. My mother (his ex-wife directly before this marriage) is even on his side. I am sick of being helpless...What can one do about this? Is there any information out there I can refer to to help him? Please let me

  4. I am a "disqualified" lawyer unable to give legal advice. You sound like you are doing what needs to be done. There is injustice in the world. Good luck to you and your family, I feel the pain of injustice in my bones.


  5. Wrongful imprisonment is awful!