Sunday, September 03, 2000

No wrongful imprisonment

Judge rejects pair's case against Ohio over jailings on molestation convictions

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — A judge has rejected the wrongful imprisonment claims of two people who spent 11 years in prison before their convictions for child molestation were thrown out.

        Visiting Judge Gregory L. Frost, a Licking County Common Pleas judge, said Friday he's convinced Robert Dale Aldridge and Mary Jenny Wilcox had sexual contact with the two girls — now adults — whom they were convicted of molesting.

        A ruling for Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox would have meant they could sue the state for damages.

        Judge Frost said he found the testimony of a 24-year-old woman, who was 8 at the time of the alleged molestation, “extremely believable.”

        The woman said that Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox took a group of children, including herself, to an empty townhouse next to where she lived with her parents. She said she was told to disrobe and was molested by both adults.

        The woman did not testify at a 1996 hearing when a visiting judge threw out the convictions of Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox after they had served 11 years of multiple life sentences. She said she was pregnant and was having health problems at the time.

        Three brothers who testified in the original trial recanted their stories, which led Judge Richard E. Parrott to throw out the convictions, ruling that Montgomery County prosecutors had violated the rights on Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox by not providing a full police report.

        Prosecutors didn't appeal the ruling and Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox sued the state for wrongful imprisonment.

        Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. said Judge Frost's ruling “confirms our position, confirms the jury's verdict and the trial judge, who sentenced these defendants to life terms in 1985.”

        Mr. Heck said it's unfortunate that the 1996 decisions prevent prosecutors from taking action to have Mr. Aldridge and Ms. Wilcox returned to prison.


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