False Imprisonment is Never Justified
by Jay B. Van Story
March 13, 2005

Some officials are trying to justify my false imprisonment by citing my relatively minor prior conviction.

Under that flawed reasoning, it would be justified for Martha Stewart to be falsely imprisoned on a fabricated charge of armed robbery, just because she has an insider trading conviction. It would be permissible for everyone who has ever been convicted of shoplifting to be locked up on phony aggravated robbery charges. It would be okay for everyone who has ever gotten a speeding ticket to be jailed on manufactured car theft charges.

The reality is, a sizeable percentage of those who have been exonerated and freed have had one or more prior convictions on their records, or have been accused of other crimes. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter is a famous example.

Rubin Carter had previously been convicted of theft, robbery and assault before being wrongly convicted of a double murder in New Jersey. He was exonerated and set free after 25 years of false imprisonment. 

Carter's criminal record made it easier for officials to deceive a jury into wrongly convicting him of something he didn't do, but it certainly didn't give them a right to do so. It certainly didn't make his false imprisonment any more justified. 

An illegally obtained conviction is wrong under any circumstances. NOTHING gives officials a license to break the law to get a conviction. If we allow them to get away with it in even one case, we invite them to do it in any case. 

Carlos Lavernia had a record before he was convicted of two rapes and a homicide, and labeled the "Barton Creek Rapist" in Austin, Texas. He was exonerated and freed a few years ago, even though he had a prior conviction for indecency with a child. He spent 12 years falsely imprisoned.

Ron Williamson of Ada, Oklahoma, was convicted in 1987 of murder, and proven innocent in 1999 through new evidence. He was set free, even though he had been accused of two rapes and had been convicted of passing bad checks before being wrongly convicted of murder. 

Earl Washington of Virginia was pardoned in October 2000. He had been falsely convicted of rape and murder 15 years earlier. He had priors for assault and burglary. 

Calvin Johnson, Jr. of Jonesboro, Georgia was convicted of rape, but exonerated and freed after 16 years in 1999, despite having been previously convicted of marijuana possession, burglary, possession of a concealed weapon, and accused of another rape.

Then there were the over three dozen people from Tulia, Texas who were exonerated and freed in June 2003, after up to four years of false imprisonment on totally fabricated drug dealing charges. Many of them had prior convictions for drug possession, theft, and other relatively minor offenses. However, this was irrelevant when it came to correcting the huge injustice of their wrongful imprisonment on fabricated charges.

A.C., the alleged victim in my case, has three young children. Like all good mothers, she is fiercely protective of them. She is also a Christian who believes in truth over lies, good over evil, and right over wrong. Since 
becoming Born Again about 5 years ago, she has been insisting to everyone that I, a cousin she hardly ever knew, have never abused her, and that she told investigators and prosecutors this from the very beginning. As a protective mother, she would not have hesitated to tell everyone that I had abused her, if I had, and maintain it. Indeed, she insists that her oldest brother sexually abused her. 

Some officials might try and claim that A.C.'s recantation holds no weight because it surfaced years after the trial. This overlooks the fact that this is not the first time she has insisted that I am innocent. Indeed, A.C., her mother, and her oldest brother adamantly and repeatedly insisted from the beginning that I am innocent. Only after they were methodically and meticulously coached and coerced by corrupt CPS investigators did they begin going along with the investigator’s false suggestions that I had abused her. A.C.' s other family members and relatives have always maintained that I am innocent. 

Yet, I continue to be robbed of my life, week after excruciating week, month after torturous month, year after tormented year. 

There is no justification.


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