In 1999, Ben Kiper and his wife were engaged in a custody battle over his step-daughter with the girl’s father and step-mother in Butler County, Kentucky.
As a final decision on custody neared, the girl, then nine, claimed that Kiper had sexually abused her in 1997.
At trial, the girl testified against Kiper. The girl’s step-mother testified that the victim had told her about the abuse.
Kiper’s wife, the girl’s mother, testified that the girl had recanted the allegations to her. No physical or forensic evidence supporting the girl's allegations could be found. Nonetheless, a jury convicted Kiper of sexual assault in 2000. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.
In 2002, the victim admitted to several mental health professionals that she had lied about the molestation, but it was not until the Kentucky Innocence Project took Kiper’s case that these statements came to the attention of the court.
In 2005, the victim, who by then was 15 years old, testified at a hearing that she had been pressured into accusing Kiper by her father and step-mother, and that she gave in and lied at his trial.
In April 2006, the Butler County Circuit Court vacated Kiper’s conviction. Kiper was released on bond in May 2006, and the indictment against him was dismissed in 2007.
- Stephanie Denzel