In 1992, shortly after Dale Duke and his wife of five years had separated, his seven-year-old step-daughter alleged that he had sexually molested her during spankings in their Dallas, Texas home.
In April, 1992, Duke, 42, was charged with aggravated sexual assault. In August, he entered a plea of no contest and was placed on probation for 10 years.
As a condition of the sentence, Duke was required to enter a sex offender treatment program. In 1997, when he refused to admit that he committed the assault, he was expelled from the program and brought back to court on a probation violation. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In 1998, the victim recanted her accusation and an attorney was appointed to represent Duke and to examine the case. He filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Although the director of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center testified that the recantation was credible and that there was no medical evidence of molestation, Duke’s petition was rejected.
In 2006, Craig Watkins was elected District Attorney of Dallas County and instituted an open file policy on all cases. In 2010, Duke’s attorney requested the file and discovered that prosecutors had a statement from the victim’s maternal grandmother, who said that she believed the girl was lying and that the girl’s aunt had coerced her to make the allegation. The grandmother had died in 2006.
On November 4, 2011, the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to vacate the conviction and dismiss the charges. Duke was freed from prison that day. As of 2012, Duke had received $1,146,667 in state compensation.
– Maurice Possley