In 1992, Dale Duke was recently married, when his step-daughter accused him of Sexual Assault. Duke pled no contest to the charge in order to receive a deferred adjudication, and was later sentenced to 20 years prison for refusing to admit the sexual assault in a Sex Offender Treatment Program as part of his sentence.
About a year after, the step-daughter recanted her testimony, claiming that the sexual assault had never happened, and that she made it up. In 2011, Duke’s attorney discovered that the Prosecutors office had never shared with the defense exculpatory information that the girl’s grandmother had told police that she thought the “victim” was untruthful and that her aunt had actually convinced the girl to fabricate the story.
This exoneration comes after Duke has served almost 14 years in prison for this “crime” that never happened.
The exoneration is due in part to diligent work by Duke’s attorney, and also to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, led by Russell Wilson. Dallas should be applauded for actually taking the initiative to exonerate those falsely accused of sexual crimes against children. Hopefully this trend will continue. However, most counties do not have a Unit like this, and wrongly convicted are required to rely on the skill of their trial attorneys, appellate lawyers, and false accusation experts to defend against these unfounded charges.
David M Cantor is a sex crimes lawyer out of Phoenix, Arizona and is a Supporting Member of the NCADRC.