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Matthew Parker

Other Child Sex Abuse Exonerations with Perjury or False Accusation
In March 1996, on the day before he was to be married, 26-year-old Matthew Parker was accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

Parker’s fiancée had babysat for the girl and her sister. The girls had been promised they could be flower girls in the wedding, but at the last minute, the 7-year-old was told that because she had misbehaved, she would not be a flower girl. Soon after, the girl told her mother that Parker had sexually molested her for several months in 1994 and 1995.

The girl’s mother informed the Department of Human Services in Osage County of her daughter’s claims, as Parker and his fiancée lived there for part of the period when the girl claimed she had been assaulted. Osage authorities, however, closed their investigation and no referral to law enforcement was made.

Despite Osage county’s decision, police in Tulsa, where Parker then resided, began their own investigation. In September 1996, following a series of interviews with a Tulsa police corporal and with a child welfare worker, Parker was charged with sexually assaulting the 7-year-old girl.

Prior to trial, the prosecution offered Parker a deal. If he were to pass a polygraph examination, the prosecution would dismiss the case. If the examination indicated any deception on his part, Parker would plead guilty. Parker accepted the offer, but the prosecution withdrew it before the polygraph could be administered.

Parker went to trial in March 1997 in Tulsa County District Court. The girl testified that Parker had sexually assaulted her as often as 10 times in one night, that he had a 12-inch long penis and that his penis had a mole on it.

James Lovett, an investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Child Welfare, Rex Berry, a Tulsa Police Corporal, and Dr. Nancy Inhoffe, a pediatrician, testified for the prosecution. Lovett and Berry testified that the girl had described sexual assaults by Parker over a several month period in detail. Inhoffe testified that there was no physical evidence of rape. She also told the jury that the girl’s “knowledge of sexual contact was in excess of what she should know for her age” which was evidence she had been sexually abused.

Parker testified in his own defense and denied any improper contact with the girl. He denied he had a mole on his penis or that his penis was a foot long. His ex-fiancée—by that time, his wife (they married prior to trial)—also testified and denied the allegations.

On March 6, 1997, the jury convicted Parker of sexually assaulting the girl. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction in 1998.

Sixteen years later, following an evidentiary hearing on a post-conviction motion for a new trial, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals vacated Parker’s conviction and ordered a new trial.

Testimony at the hearing established that the girl had made earlier similar false allegations against other men—including the husband of a different babysitter and her grandfather. Osage County authorities had investigated those allegations and concluded they were false. In addition, a psychologist, Darwin Earl Waterman, testified at the hearing that the interviews conducted by the police officer and the child welfare worker had been improperly suggestive. The court noted that according to Waterman, what “happened in this case involved more than tainting a child and indicated a problem with the investigation, especially when the allegations were unsupported by physical or psychological examinations: a prior false allegation of sexual abuse, seven recountings of the same allegations, use of an anatomically correct doll [to help guide the child’s testimony], questions that assume[d] abuse …an allegation of rape occurring ten times a night, a child witness who maintains the assailant’s penis was a foot long, and a child witness with ample opportunity to observe sexual behavior in [her] home.”

Before to the evidentiary hearing, Parker had taken a polygraph examination in prison and the results indicated that no deception when he said he had not had any sexual contact with the girl.

The appeals court said Parker’s trial defense attorney had provided an inadequate legal defense by failing to investigate and present evidence regarding the girl’s prior false accusations of sexual abuse.

On March 21, 2014, the appeals court vacated Parker’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Parker was released on bond with an ankle monitor. On March 26, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

In March 2016, Parker filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Tulsa seeking damages for wrongful imprisonment. The lawsuit accused Tulsa Police Corporal Berry of engaging in a “terrifyingly results-oriented ‘investigation,’ shoe-horning, magnifying and bolstering [the girl’s] story and credibility despite its inherent and obvious impossibilities.”

In May 2016, a judge declared Parker innocent. In April 2017, Parker's federal lawsuit was dismissed. In 2018, he was awarded $175,000 in state compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/9/2016
Last Updated: 5/30/2018
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1995
Age at the date of reported crime:26
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No