Thursday, September 04, 2008

Innocence Inquiry Panel Upholds Conviction Of Former Police Officer

From the News Observer:

The first-ever hearing of a criminal case by the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission determined that a former Plymouth police officer's conviction for taking indecent sexual liberties should stand.

The commission said in a news release Wednesday that a three-judge panel's review did not find enough evidence to overturn the conviction, which sent Henry Archie Reeves III to prison seven years ago for 20 months.

"The panel unanimously concludes that the convicted person ... has failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he is innocent of the charge," Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood said.

Because the victim recanted I'm sure some people assumed that was all the proof the commission would need, but thankfully the commission recognized that real crime victims can and do recant. The pressure to recant can be great and it is often the greatest when the victim is still a minor and when the criminal is your own father.

Reeves served his time on that original charge, but because he failed to register properly when he moved to Georgia, he is currently jailed there.

The commission reviewed the victim's old testimony looking for any evidence which would support the claim that no crime was committed and that the victim was coached to describe crimes which never happened. They found no such evidence.

Update (9/6): Because of Georgia's laws on registering as a sex offender and the sex offender residency restrictions most permanent addresses are illegal for registered sex offenders and "homeless" is a non-valid entry. That makes homelessness caused by residency restrictions a crime which automatically will be punished upon the second registry violation with life in prison.

If the goal of the Georgia law is to give life sentences to everyone living in the state who is required to register as a sex offender, they seem to be well on their way to that goal. This hurts far more people than just sex offenders who members of the public might incorrectly feel deserve no better.

If a particular sex offender is so dangerous that he or she shouldn't ever be free then we need to review the sex crime laws, enforcement and sentencing so that they do a better job of matching the severity of the crime or the severity of what a sex offender attempted to do (attempted to murder victim after rape, for example) with the sentences.

If a sex crime victim views the outcome of her or his perpetrator's requirement to register as a sex offender as unfair and unnecessary that could be a motivator for the victim to recant -- especially when the registered sex offender is a family member.

That genuine victim could then be branded a liar which would make that person more vulnerable to rapists who believe they can rape with no fear of conviction. This would give fuel to those who baselessly claim that nearly half of all rape reports are false.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:34 PM   0 comments links to this post

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