Mark Cleary and his girlfriend had two daughters together. After the couple separated, the ex-girlfriend allowed the girls to visit Cleary several times at his home in Macomb Township, Michigan, but stopped visitation in February 1986 after the girls, ages four and six, expressed hostility towards her that she attributed to their visits with Cleary. In January 1987, Cleary’s oldest daughter was caught with a boy under a bed. The two were touching each other inappropriately. Her mother, Cleary’s ex-girlfriend, asked the girl how she had learned to do that and spanked the girl, then seven, until she said her father had repeatedly done similar things to her. An investigation produced no physical evidence of abuse, but the girl’s statements became more specific and graphic as time went on. Cleary was tried for rape and, in 1989, a jury convicted him of first degree sexual assault and he was sentenced to 20-to-30-years.
In 1997, Cleary’s daughter told her mother-in-law that she had lied, and that her father had not raped her. The daughter signed a statement saying that she had never been molested, that she had lied during the investigation, and that her mother had rehearsed her statements to the police and in court. Cleary won a new trial and was released in 2004. In February 2005, the district attorney dismissed all charges against him.
- Stephanie Denzel