Steve Kilburn recently represented a 16 year old in Juvenile Court who was falsely accused of and charged with rape. The alleged victim in the case was his ex-girlfriend who claimed he raped her before they broke up. There was no physical evidence in the case and the alleged victim claimed she was raped over two weeks after it allegedly occurred. She claimed that her mom was home at the time he raped her and that her bedroom door was wide-open. In the two weeks between the time the alleged rape occurred and the time she first accused him of rape, our client and the alleged victim spent a lot of time together. During the two weeks after the alleged rape occurred, they went fishing together, hung out after school, went to dinner, and the alleged victim sent numerous text messages our client telling him how much she missed him when they were not together and that she loved him so much. It wasn’t until after our client unexpectedly broke up with her, when the alleged victim first accused him of raping her. In fact, she claimed he raped her “week, after week, after week” when they were together.
In an effort to get the charge dismissed, Steve sent to the prosecutor text messages between our client and the alleged victim, which confirmed the above set of facts. The prosecutor offered to reduce the charge to an attempted rape. The benefit of this offer to our client was, by accepting the offer, he would have the assurance of avoiding the risk of being convicted of rape and the severe consequences associated with that. Under Ohio law, all juvenile offenses are sealable except for aggravated murder, murder, and rape. So, if convicted at trial, the rape conviction would have remained on his record forever. Further, if convicted of rape following trial, our client would have been required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and would never have the ability to own or possess a firearm. All of these possible consequences were significant and scary.
The downside of accepting the prosecutor’s offer was that our client would have to plead guilty to something he did not do and would have to register as a sex offender for a long time. Our client chose to accept the risks of possibly being convicted of rape. Confident that he was telling the truth, Steve took the case to a trial.
During the trial, Steve presented text messages, which showed the two of them spent a lot of time together after the alleged rape, were in a normal and healthy relationship, and revealed no indication he did anything to harm her. Further, on cross-examination, the alleged victim admitted to lying about whether they had sex prior to the alleged rape during one of her interviews she gave before the trial.
The prosecutor presented a SnapChat message between our client and the alleged victim, which the prosecutor argued was an admission that he raped her. Over SnapChat, the alleged victim accused him for the first time of raping her. Stunned, he sent messages back, which sarcastically said, “It’s my fault.”
Our client was consistent with his story, explained the context of the SnapChat conversation, and convincingly told the judge he did not rape her. Our client’s testimony was compelling and we truly believed in his innocence from day one. The trial lasted one full day and the judge’s decision was not guilty.
We are grateful the Court listened to and carefully considered all of the evidence in the case before issuing a decision. We are beyond happy and relieved for our client.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, please contact the experienced attorneys at Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima for your free consultation at 513-932-2115.