In 2001, 11-year-old Cassandra Ann Kennedy accused her father, who had been divorced from her mother for a decade, of raping her on three separate occasions in his home in Longview, Washington.
Her father, Thomas Kennedy, 31, a laborer and equipment operator in Kelso, Washington, denied the allegations.
After the divorce, Cassandra and an older sister had spent weekends with Kennedy, sleeping on mattresses in the living room of Kennedy’s home in Longview. In 2000, a few months before Cassandra made the allegations against her father, she was expelled from the school for saying in a letter to a teacher that she was considering bringing a gun to school and shooting “everyone,” according to court records.
Authorities said that when she accused her father, she gave detailed accounts of being raped in the bathroom. She used stuffed animals to show what had occurred.
She was examined at a medical clinic and a physician found evidence of trauma to her genitals.
On April 19, 2001, the Cowlitz County prosecutor accused Kennedy of three counts of rape. At trial in July 2002, the girl repeated her allegations before a jury, which convicted Kennedy on all three counts on July 8, 2002. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
His appeals failed.
Then, in January 2012, Cassandra, 22, came to police and said her claims of rape were false. At the time, she was living at a Christian addiction treatment center near Kelso.
Police and Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sandra Baur notified Kennedy, who was at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington. Terry Mulligan, director of the Cowlitz County Office of Public Defense, filed a motion for a new trial.
At a hearing in March 2012, Cassandra testified that the physical evidence of trauma to her genitals was because she had begun engaging in sexual activity as early as the second grade with a boy in her class. She said the rape allegation came about after a friend’s step-father went to prison for a child sex crime. Cassandra said that she concocted the allegation to make her father “go away,” because he was drinking and smoking marijuana.
She testified that she may have known what to tell police to be convincing from watching movies or walking into bedrooms when adults were having sex.
At the hearing, the boy—now grown—who had engaged in sexual activity with Cassandra during that time period testified as well and confirmed her story.
On March 26, 2012, Cowlitz County Superior Court Stephen Warning granted the defense motion for a new trial, finding Cassandra’s recantation was credible. Kennedy was released from custody. On March 27, the prosecution then dismissed the charges.
In September 2014, Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Michael Evans ordered the state to pay Kennedy $519,973 for his 3,242 days in prison, the year he was registered as a sex offender and his attorney’s fees.
– Maurice Possley