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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


As a result of those incidents, Cherri and Edgar Dulaney felt compelled to move to a rural, isolated area where they feel better able to protect their four sons.

"I have always taught my boys that if they are honest and law-abiding and respectful, they will be safe in the community," Edgar Dulaney said. "My boys now know that this is not true. [My oldest son] learned a lot at the age of 15 that the 'community' is not always fair, and that his mother and I cannot really protect him.

"This is a fact, and it has been devastating for all of us."


The Dulaneys contacted Deirdre M. Enright, director of The Innocence Project at the University of Virginia law school, in December after appeals by Rafferty and another attorney failed to overturn their son's convictions.

Since then, The Innocence Project and Andrew K. Block, legal director of JustChildren, a program of the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville, have been working on the boy's behalf.

Angela A. Ciolfi of JustChildren and Jeremy S. Byrum of the McGuire Woods law firm in Richmond joined the team for the civil suit.

The girl's mother, Michele Sousa, also has been working to help clear the boy's name since her daughter told her in November 2007 that she lied about the accusations to avoid getting into trouble for inviting the boy into the house.

In January, Enright and Block sent a letter to Director of Juvenile Justice Barry Green asking for the teen's early release and laying out the facts they had gathered about the case.

In February, the boy was released shortly ahead of his originally scheduled date.

The attorneys are currently seeking to get the teen's convictions and sentence set aside, including the requirement that he be listed on the state's sex-offender registry. If those requests are not granted, a new trial is sought.

The suit also seeks a declaration of actual innocence.


Sousa returned home the evening of June 4, 2007, to find the 15-year-old boy in the kitchen of her Aquia Harbour home and her 14-year-old daughter in her bedroom getting dressed.

Sousa called the Sheriff's Office, believing the boy had broken in and sexually assaulted her daughter.

The case moved quickly through the legal system.

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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.