In January, 2006, Davonn Robinson, a 17-year-old Milwaukee youth a few months away from graduating high school, was charged with sexually assaulting his twin eight-year-old cousins, a boy and a girl.
The children told police that between June 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005 he sexually assaulted the girl and forced the brother to have sex with his sister, according to authorities.
Police questioned Robinson and claimed that he had admitted to the crimes, though Robinson, who is a low-functioning individual, also denied that he had had done anything wrong. The alleged confession was not recorded.
In May, 2006, Robinson pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 5 years in prison and 10 years supervision.
In 2010, the girl “victim,” who was then 13, was questioned by police as a suspect in a crime. While she was being questioned by police, she volunteered that her accusation against Robinson 5 years earlier was false, and was the result of being forced by her mother to make the accusation. Police contacted the public defender’s office about her statement, and a public defender interviewed the brother. The brother said the same thing as his sister—that their accusation was false. The Wisconsin Innocence Project then took on the case from the public defender’s office, re-investigated the case and documented the recantations by the two children. They said they were forced by their mother to accuse Robinson and that she beat them with an extension cord to get them to make the accusations.
By then, the children’s mother was in prison for child abuse.
The recantation evidence was presented at an evidentiary hearing in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Aug. 27, 2010. Less than a month later, on Sept. 23, the court vacated Robinson's conviction, the state promptly dismissed all charges, and Robinson was released from prison the same day.
– Maurice Possley