On December 31, 1990, a 6-year-old girl told police that she was playing in a snowbank in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, when a man on a bicycle approached, put a knife to her cheek and forced her to walk behind a dumpster where he ordered her to pull down her pants and then fondled her.
Twenty minutes later, police stopped 33-year-old Guy Randolph as he was walking along a street. Randolph was a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of minor offenses such as shoplifting and burglary.
Police took Randolph so the girl could see him, but she said that she didn’t recognize him. However, after talking to her aunt that same day, the girl said Randolph was her attacker.
The girl testified before a Suffolk County grand jury and gave a detailed description of her attacker, including clothing and height that did not match Randolph. But in 1991, Randolph was indicted anyway and on May 21, 1991, his lawyer convinced Randolph to plead no contest—to admit that the prosecution had sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction, but maintain his claim of innocence.
Randolph was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but it was suspended and he was given credit for the four months he already had spent in jail.
Not long after, when Randolph failed to attend an alcohol counseling session, which was a condition of his probation, he was arrested and a judge revoked his probation and ordered Randolph to serve the entire 10 year sentence.
In 2001, as Randolph was nearing the end of his sentence, his case was examined by prosecutors to determine whether he should be civilly committed as a sexually dangerous offender. When a defense lawyer appointed to represent Randolph discovered that the victim had described her attacker so differently from the way Randolph appeared, the prosecution agreed it would not seek to have Randolph committed. He was released, but was required to register as a sex offender.
Randolph’s attorney in the civil commitment process believed Randolph was innocent and wrote to the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender service, requesting that a lawyer be appointed. Randolph’s mother wrote as well asking for help. In 2005, the case was assigned to Sejal Patel, a former prosecutor who had moved with her husband to Boston from San Francisco and was working as a solo practitioner.
During the next three years, Patel tracked down the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, the police reports and Randolph’s medical records. Ultimately, she put all of her findings together and submitted them to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, which then examined the evidence. The prosecution concluded that Randolph was innocent and never should have been indicted, let alone convicted.
On May 1, 2008, the prosecution, Patel and Randolph, along with Randolph’s mother who had supported him and always believed in his innocence, appeared before Suffolk Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle who vacated the conviction and declared Randolph innocent. Hinkle directed that Randolph’s name be removed for the state sex offender registry.
In July 2008, Randolph filed a claim for compensation from the state of Massachusetts and received the maximum amount of $500,000.
– Maurice Possley