Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Daniel Crosby

Other Montana Exonerations
In March 1994, the Missoula County District Attorney’s Office charged 33-year-old Daniel Crosby with raping his 10-year-old daughter in July 1993 when she was visiting him in Missoula, Montana.

Crosby went to trial in Missoula County District Court in January 1996. Crosby’s former wife (they were divorced), Brenda, testified that she was living in the state of Washington with the girl and her two siblings. All three children came to Missoula for a vacation with Crosby, who had remarried.

Brenda told the jury that in August 1993, when the children returned from Missoula, she found her 10-year-old daughter crying. When she asked the girl what was wrong, the girl said that Crosby had sexually molested her. The girl herself also testified that Crosby had sex with her.

A detective testified that he interviewed Crosby and that he denied molesting the girl. The detective said that Crosby said he worked nights and his second wife worked days, but that after first insisting that he was never alone with the girl, Crosby did admit that there were times when the girl remained home while the two younger siblings went to a park to play.

A counselor testified that the girl gave a consistent account in an interview. A physician who examined the girl testified that there was no evidence of sexual activity, but the lack of physical evidence did not mean the assault did not occur.

The girl’s younger brother testified that on one occasion, he came to Crosby’s bedroom and he saw his sister and Crosby under the covers in bed.

On January 20, 1996, after deliberating for two days, the jury convicted Crosby of one count of sexual intercourse without consent. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all but three years suspended.

In December 1996, Crosby was charged with burglary in Missoula County. Crosby accepted a deal offered by the Missoula County District Attorney’s Office to plead guilty and receive a concurrent sentence on the condition that he withdraw his appeal of the rape conviction. Crosby was released on parole in December 2000.

In May 2002, Crosby’s daughter came to Missoula and met with William Boggs, attorney for Crosby. She signed a sworn affidavit saying that her testimony against Crosby was false and had been coerced by her mother.

Boggs filed a motion for a new trial on behalf of Crosby and a hearing was held in February 2004. At the hearing, Crosby’s daughter, by then 21 years old, testified that she had falsely accused her father after finally succumbing to years of attempts by her mother to plant in her mind that she had been molested.

The prosecution called a forensic psychiatrist who testified that he believed the girl’s trial testimony was accurate and that Crosby’s daughter, who was pregnant in 2004, was trying to reintegrate herself into Crosby’s family.

In July 2004, Missoula County District Judge Douglas Harkin denied the petition for a new trial. Harkin ruled that under Montana law, if he believed the recantation was false he was required to deny Crosby’s the petition. And he concluded that the recantation was indeed false.

In July 2006, the Montana Supreme Court reversed Harkin’s decision. The court held that Harkin had applied the wrong legal standard to deny Crosby’s bid for a new trial.

The court held that the proper standard required granting a new trial if the newly discovered evidence created a “reasonable probability” that a jury would have acquitted Crosby. The court vacated the conviction and ordered a new trial. In June 2008, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 8/24/2015
State:Montana
County:Missoula
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1993
Convicted:1996
Exonerated:2008
Sentence:3 years
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:31
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No