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Nancy was a school bus driver, charged with the safety of preschool students. But on a seemingly ordinary workday, her world was ripped apart by a false allegation against her – an allegation that led to 14 years of prison time.
A mother charged that Nancy had taken her daughter to Nancy’s boyfriend’s house, where she was molested. Nancy’s accuser went first to other parents and then to the media and finally to the mayor to demand Nancy’s arrest. “It was like a witch-hunt,” Nancy says. She was handcuffed in front of her children and taken to jail. “They treated me like some criminal.”
When Nancy came to trial 10 months later, the allegations against her had become more elaborate, involving multiple children and abuse including stabbing them with needles and forcing them to drink urine. “These kids were coerced, obviously,” into giving their testimony, Nancy says. Nonetheless, she was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 90 years.
About five or seven years into her sentence, Nancy’s case was taken up by the Ohio Innocence Project. “These are people that, when you’re sitting in that prison cell and you don’t think you have hope, these are people that come in there and bring you a little bit,” Nancy says. In 2009, Nancy was brought before a judge for resentencing, at which point he said, “I have absolutely no confidence in the verdict that was brought against Miss Smith and I am therefore acquitting her of all charges.”
“I did 14-and-a-half years,” Nancy concludes. “But no matter what, I’m free and I’m home.” However, she had to agree not to sue the state or seek redress in court. “It will always be with you,” she concludes. “This is something I will live with for the rest of my life.”
"To read more about the stories of Ricky, Nancy and Clarence, and to learn about wrongful conviction and its causes, read Mark Godsey's Blind Injustice, a best-selling new release on Amazon.com. Join the Blind Injustice Facebook Group, here.