John Kinsel

January 30, 1997: In Louisiana, John Kinsel is charged with the aggravated rape of a young girl.

I don’t usually include cases in this database when an accused has been convicted unless he has appealed successfully, but this one is truly exceptional.

This video is my own edit of a slightly longer clip from the American TV series Crime Watch Daily. (Like many large archived videos it may take some time to load; you might like to save it to disk before playing it). This gives the background to the case. If the girl’s entire family don’t believe her and actually testify for the defense, and if on top of that when she reaches adulthood she recants, what does that leave?

This is the 2011 judgment by the Fifth Circuit. Note in particular this amazing sentence just before the conclusion: “It is beyond regrettable that a possibly innocent man will not receive a new trial in the face of the preposterously unreliable testimony of the victim and sole eyewitness to the crime for which he was convicted.”

This case also highlights the dangers of mandatory reporting. Those covered by it are so worried about protecting their own backs they will report the slightest suspicion which with inappropriate questioning and other factors can lead to the damning of an innocent, and on occasion a witch-hunt.


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