In 1997, a 14-year-old girl accused Jeffrey Dake, a family friend who sometimes stayed in her family’s home in Langlade County, Wisconsin, of coming home drunk and raping her twice. She said someone jumped into her bed in the middle of the night, and though it was dark, she knew it was Dake because of the feel of his shoes. She said the rapist gave her $20 not to tell anyone. At trial, the victim’s step-father testified that Dake knew that the victim was offered $20, a detail only the rapist would know. Dake claimed that the family told him that information after the crime. In 1998, a jury convicted Dake of rape and he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
The Wisconsin Innocence Project took his case in 2006, and discovered that the prosecution had withheld evidence that the victim’s step-father had also been charged with sexually assaulting the victim during the same time frame, and that he negotiated a deal with the prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Dake. In June 2007, a Langlade County Circuit Court judge granted Dake a new trial. The prosecution dismissed the charges after the victim said that she did not want to go through another trial.
- Stephanie Denzel