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Former Aquia Harbour teen files suit in attempt to clear his name in recanted rape accusation

Date published: 8/30/2009


A former Aquia Harbour teen who spent 17 months incarcerated for a rape, even though his accuser recanted her accusation, is suing the state Department of Juvenile Justice to clear his name and get off the state's sex-offender registry.

The lawsuit claims the teen's court-appointed attorney, Denise Rafferty of Stafford County, violated his constitutional rights by providing ineffective counsel.

Specifically, she is accused of failing to investigate the claims against her client, of failing to interview him, of failing to investigate his and his accuser's backgrounds, of misrepresenting the evidence against him and of ignoring an eyewitness. She also is accused of not properly informing him of the allegations against him and of his legal options before recommending he plead guilty to charges of rape and breaking and entering.

Though the suit focuses its claims on Rafferty, it also faults Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Eric Olsen, who prosecuted the case.

"Neither the prosecutor nor the defense attorney conducted even the most cursory investigation of the complaining witness or the defendant," the suit filed in Stafford Circuit Court states.

"Had they done so, they would have learned that the complaining witness had a well-documented history of falsely accusing others, including but not limited to sexual allegations, and that she was fully capable of consenting to sex."

Olsen prosecuted the case on the grounds that the girl, then 14, did not have the ability to consent to sexual intercourse because of intellectual shortcomings.

The suit contends that the girl and the boy, then 15, were intellectual peers because both "have IQs lower than the lowest 5-10 percent of the general population."

The civil suit was filed Aug. 18 against the state Department of Juvenile Justice as a procedural matter since the department continues to supervise the boy while he is on parole.

The suit includes 20 affidavits from the teens and from people who know them such as their parents, their siblings, a coach, a caretaker, a psychologist, an assistant principal and teachers.

Among the information contained in the affidavits is that:

The detective who interviewed the boy doubted the allegations at the start.

Stafford school officials knew the girl had a history of false accusations and, as a result, immediately doubted her rape allegation.

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The following information comes from sworn statements gathered by the attorneys representing the teen who is suing the state Department of Juvenile Justice in an effort to clear his name.

The mother of the girl who accused the boy of rape and later said she lied seeks to right what she considers an injustice.

MICHELE SOUSA, the girl's mother, states that Stafford Detective Gerald Lloyd, the man who investigated the allegation and questioned the boy on the date of the alleged incident, "seemed to doubt the rape allegation at the beginning. Det. Lloyd seemed to be challenging that this had happened, and it made me mad then."

Lloyd indicated that the boy said he and the girl were friends, noted that the boy "seems a little slow," and "wondered if this wasn't a 'mistake.'"

Sousa said Stafford officials were familiar with her daughter and family from incidents prior to the June 2007 allegation.

"Both Child Protective Services and the Stafford prosecutors were aware of [my daughter's] history of false accusations, because they have had to deal with our family in the past."

One such encounter stemmed from the girl's Mother's Day 2000 accusation that her father caused bruises that she had on her legs. Her father spent the night in jail, but charges were later dropped after the prosecutor's office became convinced it was a lie.

ROBERT BALDWIN, former A.G. Wright Middle School special-education chairman: "[She] lied in order to save herself from getting into trouble. Her concern for her own self-preservation led her to make damaging statements about her teachers, her parents and peers, with no apparent understanding of the negative consequences to others of her words."

"Based on my knowledge of her behavior patterns, when I first learned that [she] had accused a young man of raping her, I doubted the veracity of her accusation."

THE ACCUSED TEEN said: "I pled guilty to those crimes on Aug. 22, 2007, because my lawyer Denise Rafferty told me that I didn't have a choice."

"I did not break into [the girl's] house, and I did not rape [the girl] and I never told anyone that I did."

EDGAR DULANEY, the boy's father, said the attorney misrepresented the evidence. "When I shared my uncertainty about [whether my son should plead guilty] with Ms. Rafferty, she immediately told me that Det. Lloyd would testify that [my son] had confessed to him. Ms. Rafferty then said that Det. Lloyd's testimony, along with the DNA results, would be plenty to convince any jury of his guilt. Ms. Rafferty showed me a folder and said the Commonwealth had the results of the DNA tests, and that the results showed that it was 100 percent certain that [my son] had raped [the girl]."

A state lab report shows tests were never conducted on evidence in the case and that Lloyd told the lab on Aug. 22, 2007--the date the boy entered his guilty pleas--not to test the evidence.

DANIEL TRYON, the boy's Brooke Point High School freshman basketball coach and study-hall proctor, said he "was congenial, quiet and even-tempered throughout the four hours each school day that I spent with him. [His] behavior did not noticeably change in the presence of girls: he was not preoccupied by girls and he did not exhibit any hostile, menacing or aggressive behavior whatsoever."

He "struck me as an affable but intellectually challenged young man."

Jan. 22--Innocence Project Director Deirdre Enright and JustChildren Legal Director Andrew K. Block Jr. send letter to Department of Juvenile Justice Director Barry R. Green asking him to release boy.

Feb. 25--Boy is released from Department of Juvenile Justice facility and placed on probation.

Aug. 18--Boy sues Department of Juvenile Justice in Stafford Circuit Court.