"Hello Truth!" "Hello Freedom!"
October 7, 2008- Columbus, Ohio
Wrongly Accused Man Freed After 18 Years
Robert McClendon speaks upon his first steps of freedom
Now out of jail, McClendon gets back to reality, one that should not have been interrupted due to a wrong accusation.
Today we celebrate and welcome back anther innocent soul that was wrongfully convicted, looking back at the details of the case for what went wrong.
Background On Case
In 1991, Robert McClendon was wrongly convicted for 15 years to life in prison, for allegedly raping and kidnapping his own 10 year old daughter. This case was solely based off the direct evidence of an eye-witness statement, being the daughter. The attack goes as stated, a man grabbed her, pulled her over a fence, tied a sock around her eyes and put her in his car. He then drove to a nearby abandoned house, took the girl inside and raped her on a couch. After the man raped her, he took her in his car and stopped at a convenience store. When he went inside she jumped out and ran home. The mother's testimony states the daughter told her that her biological father, McClendon, had abducted and assaulted her. The victim was taken to a hospital and it was confirmed the girl had been assaulted. At the hospital the girl was asked who had attacked her and she stated, “I think it was my dad but I may be wrong because my eyes were covered.” A limited lab test failed to find the presence of semen on the underwear (later found) and there was no DNA testing performed. With no circumstantial evidence to prove McClendon guilty, it was his own daughters words that put him away.
What Went Wrong?
Reasons For Becoming A Suspect:
- McClendon is the biological father of the victim (possible issues regarding family)
- Victim believed it was McClendon who was the offender
- McClendon was convicted in the 1970s of attempted corruption of a minor for having sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 19
Took a lie-detector test that showed his answers could be a deliberate attempt at deception
Possible Influences That Could Have Affected The Eye Witness's (daughter) Observation/Conviction:
- Mental state
- Age (being young at 10 years old)
- Pressure from others (mother and officials asking her questions)
- Mother could have changed her daughter's observations of the attack
- Physically not able to see what was happening (blindfolded)
Being so young and naive, the victim was only a 10 years old girl. The first red flag is that the victim recognized McClendon as her attacker. The victim stated in the hospital room to a worker, “I think it was my dad but I may be wrong because my eyes were covered.” Being visually impaired, she had no possible way to physically see her attacker. Looking at court documents, the victim had only seen her biological father, McClendon, once in her life before the day of the assault. This adds further evidence that her view of McClendon is unclear and could possible be unrecognizable since the limited contact. The victim had told her mother/ex wife of McClendon first of what had happened to her regarding the attack. Not telling anyone before then, her judgement could have been easily persuaded by the mother if there were family issues, which clearly there were. Basing the conviction of McClendon solely off an eye-witness statement should not have happened due to the fact there was circumstantial evidence that could have provided factual answers. A limited lab test failed to identify the presence of semen on the swabs collected in the hospital or on the victims underwear. Due to this, there was no further testing done although McClendon has asked multiple times for testing. Later, due to the DNA testing on the victim's underwear, semen was found and did not belong to McClendon. If the evidence and factors of the situation were more thoroughly looked at before, McClendon would not have gone to jail.
The outcome to this case should not have ended the way it did with the accusations from a child. There was evidence provided and the court decided to not use it in determining if McClendon was guilty. To make this case more fair, the investigation should have looked into the reliability of the victim, the possible red flags from the situation and stories, as well as tested the evidence found from the crime. Ignoring all of these, the case turned into a tell tale story that ended up costing a man 18 years of his life that he will never be able to get back.