In 1997, a 17-year-old woman told her boyfriend that she had been sexually molested by her stepfather, Robert Wayne McCullough, when she was eight years old in Conroe, Texas.
At her boyfriend’s urging, the woman told her mother, who notified police. The girl told authorities that McCullough had molested her in 1988. McCullough was the girl’s mother’s second husband, whom she had divorced in 1989.
In 1998, McCullough, who had no criminal record, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. He went on trial in Montgomery County Criminal District Court in January 2000. The woman, who was then 20, testified that not only had she had been molested, but McCullough raped her twice.
A gynecologist testified for the prosecution that the woman had evidence of vaginal scars, but there was no way to estimate when the trauma that caused the scars occurred.
A gynecologist testified for the defense that had the victim been raped at the age of eight, there would have been significantly more scarring.
McCullough denied molesting or raping the victim. He was convicted by a jury on January 13, 2000. The jury recommended a 10-year suspended prison sentence, with McCullough placed on court supervision for the entire term—a recommendation the judge accepted.
In January 2011, the then-31-year-old victim told her husband—the boyfriend she had first told about the molestation and whom she had later married—that the accusation was a lie.
The woman had, over the years, become a Christian and said she could no longer live with the guilt of having falsely accused McCullough.
The woman told her mother, grandmother and stepmother that the accusation was a lie and then visited McCullough to confess her lie directly to him.
McCullough obtained sworn affidavits from his stepdaughter recanting her testimony as well as from her pastor and his former wives which stated their belief that the recantation was truthful.
In her statement, the victim said that at the time she made the accusation, she was angry because her mother had divorced McCullough—a man the victim said was a good influence on her life. She said that after enduring her mother’s failed marriages, she was angry and had become a habitual liar who was looking for attention.
McCullough filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In November 2011, a judge granted the writ and vacated McCullough’s conviction and the prosecution dismissed the case.
– Maurice Possley