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U.Va. Innocence Project and child advocacy group trying to free teen they say was wrongfully convicted of rape
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By PAMELA GOULD
A team of attorneys is asking the Department of Juvenile Justice to release a former Aquia Harbour teen they say was wrongfully convicted of rape and is listed on the state's sex offender registry.
The effort by the Innocence Project of the University of Virginia Law School and JustChildren, a child-advocacy group, is supported by the alleged victim's mother, who wants to correct what she considers a miscarriage of justice.
"We just need to make things right," Michele Sousa said in a recent interview.
Sousa said she returned home from work on June 4, 2007, to find the 15-year-old boy inside her Aquia Harbour home and her 14-year-old daughter getting dressed in the girl's bedroom.
Sousa initially believed her daughter had been sexually assaulted and immediately contacted the Stafford County Sheriff's Office. But three months after the boy was convicted of rape and breaking into her home, her daughter said she had lied about the incident because she feared getting into trouble.
As soon as Sousa learned that--on Thanksgiving weekend in 2007--she contacted a lawyer, who advised her to contact the boy's attorney. His attorney asked her to provide a notarized statement from her daughter, which she did.
In the May 23, 2008, handwritten statement, the girl states: "[The boy] didn't rely rape me in fact we did it befor. [He] was a friend of mine befor this even happend. Me and [the boy] where good friends, but now it just seems that I lied about [him]. Now I will never forgive myself. [He] didn't realy come in by himself, I let him in."
The Free Lance-Star is not naming the boy or girl because of their ages and the nature of the charges. Their parents' surnames are different from theirs. Both families have since moved from Stafford.
The parents agreed to discuss the case publicly in an effort to clear the boy, who has been in state custody for at least 17 months.
Neither Stafford Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Eric Olsen, who prosecuted the boy, nor Denise Rafferty, who was the court-appointed defense attorney at trial, would discuss the case.
Olsen said he was aware of pending action in the case. He agreed to answer only general questions about juvenile prosecutions and the Stafford office's policies.