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Stafford County teen whose victim recanted her rape allegations gets early release from custody
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By PAMELA GOULD
A former Aquia Harbour teen whose alleged rape victim recanted has been released ahead of schedule by the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
The boy, who is now 17, was released one week ago from a facility in Hanover County after spending 17 months in custody. The Department of Juvenile Justice had classified him as a "major offender" and given him a sentence ranging from 18 to 36 months.
Yesterday, the mother of the girl who recanted her allegation, called the early release "a first step" in rectifying the situation.
"I was relieved but I still feel bad because it's not the end of the road for him," said Michele Sousa.
The Free Lance-Star is not naming the teens because of the nature of the charges. Their parents have different surnames.
The boy's parents contacted Deirdre Enright, director of the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia Law School, late last year after appeals by two previous attorneys failed to get the case overturned.
On Jan. 22, Enright and Andrew K. Block Jr., legal director of JustChildren, a child advocacy program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, sent a letter to Juvenile Justice Director Barry Green laying out their investigation into the case and their grounds for a claim of wrongful conviction. They asked Green to exercise his authority to release the teen, which he did.
The attorneys are also seeking to get the teen's convictions erased and his name removed from the state's sex offender registry. Green's decision to release the teen does not impact those issues.
In a separate matter, Stafford Juvenile Court Judge Julian W. Johnson issued a ruling late Friday giving prosecutor Eric Olsen permission to review records related to the boy's case and comment publicly on their contents. The ruling does not go into effect for 10 days from its release and does not open the records to public inspection.
Olsen made the request after a Feb. 5 report in The Free Lance-Star in which the boy's attorneys alleged he had been wrongfully convicted.
Olsen could not be reached for comment yesterday, but said in his motion he wanted to correct what he considered "inaccurate and incomplete information."
Block declined yesterday to comment on the ruling.