A jury convicted Jerry Lee Brock of child molestation in 1995. They reached their decision based on the testimony of then 11-year-old Regina Rush. Rush claimed that Brock molested her as she slept. As a result of prior convictions for burglary and promoting prostitution, Brock received life in prison under the “three-strikes” law.
However, there was a problem: there was no abuse. Rush lied. She waited until 2012 to come forward, writing a six-page letter explaining her actions:
She said she made up the story because she wanted attention from her mother and because she worried that Brock was a drug user and a bad influence on her mom.
Price held a hearing Nov. 10 to assess Rush’s credibility. Now 31 and a mother herself, she testified under oath, detailing that she had previously been taken away from her mother due to her mother’s drug use, and she didn’t want it to happen again.
“Ms. Rush testified that she realized just how wrong it is to make such serious false accusations,” the judge wrote in his order Thursday. “The dishonesty was eating away at her inside and she didn’t want to carry that burden any longer. … She simply wanted to clear her conscience.”
Interesting how it took nearly 20 years for Rush to want to clear her conscience. The prosecutors assume Rush recanted because of the Brock’s sentence. However, the judge rejected this argument, claiming that Rush did not know Brock was even in prison. The prosecutors also seem inclined to retry Brock. Despite freeing Brock, they set conditions on his release:
Brock was released with a few conditions, including that he remain in the state, not possess firearms and not use drugs. A new trial was scheduled for February, but it wasn’t clear prosecutors would proceed with it, given that the girl’s story was the primary evidence against him.
Fortunately, there is some recourse for Brock:
Washington state adopted a law last year allowing wrongly convicted defendants to be reimbursed $50,000 for each year of incarceration if they can prove they were innocent of the felony they were convicted of.
It is unlikely that $950,000 can compensate for the time Brock spent in prison. However, it will give him some means of taking care of himself after nearly two decades out of the workforce.
Of course, no story about false accusations would be complete without this:
[ Brock’s lawyer, public defender Patrick] O’Connor said he did not expect her to face any legal repercussions for the false report, given her age at the time.
Curious how if Rush had molested or murdered someone at 11-years-old she would face legal repercussions unless the statute of limitations had expired, yet when it comes to a false accusation that landed an innocent man in prison for 19 years, there are no legal options available.
The most important element of this case is that all this happened solely based on Rush’s testimony. The prosecutors had no other hard evidence. While all cases relying solely on accusers’ testimony are not false, this shows how easily a convincing story can result in someone losing decades of their life on a false accusation.
Nothing Brock said helped his situation. It was only the Rush’s recantation that resulted in his freedom. Imagine the number of potential cases of innocent men and boys in prison whose accusers never developed a conscience. How could anyone tell a real case from a fake one?
This is why it is so important to take false accusations serious. No one would have caught this travesty had the accuser remained silent.