In 1991, Robert Crowe told his mother and Genesee County, Michigan Police that his mother’s live-in boyfriend, Neal Redick, sexually assaulted him on four different occasions two years earlier when Crowe was 9 years old.
Redick was indicted on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1991 and went on trial before a jury in Genesee County Circuit Court in February 1992.
Crowe testified that 28-year-old Redick anally raped him on four occasions and also performed oral sex on him on one of those occasions. Crowe claimed that after the assaults, he had difficulty having a bowel movement.
A physician examined Crowe in 1991 after he made the allegations against Redick. The physician testified that he found no physical evidence of abuse, but added that such a finding was not unusual given the passage of time.
Redick, who had never been convicted of a crime, denied the abuse. On February 6, 1992, a jury convicted him of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was sentenced to 16 to 30 years in prison.
In 1995, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the convictions, and in 1996 the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear a further appeal.
The following year, in 1997, Crowe, by then a teenager, was convicted as an adult of having sex with a 12-year-old neighbor girl and was sentenced to prison.
In 2005, while Crowe was still incarcerated, he wrote a letter to Redick saying he had fabricated the sexual assault allegations because he wanted to live with his father. In the letter Crowe explained that his father told him that he “would have to do something drastic in order to live with him.” Crowe then told a fellow student at his school that he had been molested. That student notified a teacher who then notified Crowe’s mother.
In his letter, Crowe further explained that his father put the story into his head and “brainwashed” him into believing it. Crowe told Redick that by the time he spoke to police, “it was as if (the abuse) really happened.”
Not long after Crowe sent the letter to Redick, Crowe sent a letter to the Innocence Project at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. In that letter, Crowe again recanted his testimony that he had been sexually assaulted, and said that “(y)ears later, it occurred to me that this was all a lie.” Crowe sent a copy of this letter to Redick as well.
Crowe wrote a third letter in June 2006 to the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office, repeating his claim that he had fabricated the allegations so he could live with his father.
In 2006, Redick, assisted by another inmate, filed a motion for a new trial based Crowe's recantation. Attorney Neil Szabo was appointed to represent Redick.
A hearing was held in 2006 during which Crowe testified and recanted his allegations that Redick had assaulted him. He said that at one point prior to the trial, he tried to back out, but his father forbade him from doing so.
On December 7, 2006, Genesee County Circuit Judge Robert Yuille vacated Redick’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The prosecution appealed, and on June 28, 2007, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the decision to vacate the conviction. The ruling noted that there was no physical evidence of assault and that the judge who conducted the hearing on the defense motion found Mr. Crowe’s new testimony to be credible.
In October 2007, the Michigan Supreme Court denied the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal. The prosecution then dismissed the charges and Redick was released from prison.
– Maurice Possley