Was an innocent man sent to prison by lies?

It was a shocking accusation – a nine year old girl claimed she was raped and sodomized by her father. He was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison, where he has been for fifteen years. After he had been in prison for six months, she recanted her story and said she made the accusations under duress, fearful of beatings by her mother who, for some reason, wanted her to accuse her father.

This all started in 1997. Now, in 2013, the girl is still campaigning to have her father’s name cleared. Her story has been consistent for fifteen years – she says the abuse never happened and she lied because of fear. Despite a lack of physical evidence, the jury convicted Daryl Kelly based on Chaneya Kelly’s graphic testimony. But should fifteen years of denials by a woman who is now twenty three years old hold some weight?

The prosecutors in the case are standing by their conviction, even though all indications are that a tragic mistake was made here. While abuse of power by prosecutors is frighteningly common, for the sake of argument let’s assume that the prosecutors were motivated only by a desire to protect this girl and they genuinely believed Mr. Kelly was guilty. Sometimes, mistakes happen – even with the best of intentions.

Making a mistake is forgivable. None of us are perfect and we are often wrong. Refusing to admit that mistake – and fighting tooth and nail to prevent the mistake from being corrected – is not. Is it possible that Ms. Kelly told the truth at the trial and has been lying for fifteen years? Perhaps, but it is not likely. The prosecutors are not interested in justice. They are interested in their pride. They are interested in having an unblemished record – justice be damned. That is unforgivable. That is evil.