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Richard Zawacki

Other Indiana Exonerations where No Crime Occurred
On June 15, 2000, a 15-year-old girl, identified in court as S.H., visited the home of her friend, K.Z., in Huntington, Indiana. S.H. later claimed that during the visit, K.Z.'s father, 38-year-old Richard Zawacki, showed her sex toys and displayed pornography on his computer and then drove her home.

S.H. said Zawacki would not permit his daughter, K.Z., to accompany them. S.H. claimed that Zawacki fondled her during the drive. She reported the incident to her mother a week later.

Zawacki was charged with sexual misconduct with a minor. He went to trial in Huntington County Superior Court in October 2000. Zawacki’s defense attorney sought to introduce letters from S.H. to K.Z. saying that she was sexually attracted to K.Z. The defense contended that S.H. had asked Zawacki and his wife permission to commence a sexual relationship with K.Z., and that she made a false claim against Zawacki when they rejected that request.

The court denied Zawacki’s motion to introduce this evidence, citing Indiana's rape shield law. On cross-examination, S.H. denied that she had asked the Zawacki and his wife for permission to have a relationship with K.Z.

Zawacki then moved to introduce the letters as impeachment evidence. The court again excluded the letters and barred Zawacki from testifying that S.H. requested permission to have a sexual relationship with K.Z.

On October 11, 2000, the jury convicted Zawacki. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

On August 10, 2001, the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversed Zawacki's conviction and ordered a new trial. The appeals court ruled that the trial court had erroneously barred introduction of the letters, and wrongly barred Zawacki from testifying about S.H.’s request.

On November 16, 2001, the Huntington County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the charge.

Zawacki subsequently filed a claim for compensation from the state of Indiana, but it was denied.

– Simon Cole

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Posting Date: 8/8/2017
Last Updated: 1/23/2024
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2000
Sentence:4 years
Age at the date of reported crime:38
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No