In August 1993, 35-year-old Ricky Dale Harmon was charged with aggravated sexual assault for allegedly raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter in Dallas, Texas.
He went on trial in Dallas County Criminal District Court before a jury in February 1994.
The girl testified that she and her younger brother were home watching television with Harmon. She said that Harmon sent her brother outside and locked the door, then took her into a bedroom, where he sexually assaulted her. Harmon gave her some money so that she wouldn’t say anything about it, she said.
The girl’s aunt later went to police and reported that the girl had told her about the incident.
The girl’s mother testified that on the day of the incident, she came home to find the door locked—which was unusual—and her son outside. She said that she later noticed that her daughter had extra money.
The jury convicted Harmon on February 21, 1994. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was taken into custody immediately.
In 2002, Harmon’s step-daughter came forward to say that the accusation was a lie.
Harmon filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. At a hearing, the girl (by then a 17-year-old) testified that she was upset that her mother had left their home and moved in with Harmon. She testified that her aunt told her that if she accused Harmon of sexual assault, he would be “out of the picture and my mom and dad would get back together.”
The trial judge granted the writ and set aside the conviction. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the decision in September 2002 and denied a petition for rehearing on October 8, 2003.
Harmon was released on bond on November 6, 2003. The Dallas District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge on March 26, 2004.
– Maurice Possley