Facing false accusations of rape — or any serious crime — is the kind of experience no one wants to go through. At the same, time it’s nearly impossible to imagine what it’s like to face these charges as a teenager. Unfortunately, one young man from Virigina dealt with this very problem when he was only 15 years old.
In 2007, a young man was advised to plead guilty to charges that he raped a younger girl. The fear was that if he didn’t do so, he would be put in an adult detention center. As a result of this move, the teen spent 17 months in a juvenile prison and was required to register as a sex offender. This all happened despite the fact that the accuser later recanted her testimony.
Six years later, the young man has finally seen the end of this legal nightmare. A Virginia court recently overturned the conviction on the grounds that the teen had inadequate representation and the accusations weren’t truthful. Now that the sex crimes charges have been dismissed, the man’s name will be cleared from the state sex offender registry and he can move forward with his life.
The court ruling determined that had the the teen been better represented, an investigation would have likely been able to uncover that the sexual act between the two teenagers and the accuser had credibility issues. Although this ruling is certainly a postitive step, the young man was forced to give up many years of his life.
Even after the wrongly accused man was released from juvenile custody, he faced challenges. Because he was named as a sex offender, he had serious difficulty getting a job and finding places to live. Now, the hope is that the young man’s successful criminal defense efforts will afford him the opportunity to become an active and contributing member of his community.
Source: The Washington Post, “Edgar Coker’s name to be taken off Va. sex offender list years after false accusation,” Susan Svrluga, Feb. 12, 2014