In June 2003, a woman claimed that Ronald Chretien, the owner of a Plainstow, New Hampshire motorcycle shop, had choked her and forced her to perform oral sex at the shop. Chretien claimed that the sex was consensual. At trial, the victim was asked if she had ever falsely accused another man of sexual assault and she said she had not. Chretien’s lawyer was not allowed to pursue that line of questioning further. In January 2005, after a bench trial, Chretien was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 6-to-12 years in prison.
After his appeals in state courts failed, Chretien filed a federal habeas corpus petition and was granted an evidentiary hearing. At the hearing, the victim admitted that she had in fact falsely accused another man of choking her and forcing her to perform oral sex in the past. In July 2008, a United States District Court judge granted Chretien’s habeas corpus petition, vacating his conviction and ordering a new trial. In September 2008, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office announced that they would not appeal the court’s ruling, and in October 2008 all charges against Chretien were dropped.
- Stephanie Denzel