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S. Jermaine Roland

Other District of Columbia Exonerations
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On August 20, 2012, police in Washington, D.C., issued an arrest warrant for 27-year-old S. Jermaine Roland. According to the warrant, a girl known in court papers as R.G. said that Roland had sexually assaulted her on a night between August 3-6, 2010, while she was attending a summer computer camp at American University. At the time, R.G. was 12 years old. Roland was a camp counselor.

Prior to the arrest, on August 1, 2012, R.G. viewed a photo array and identified Roland as the man she said attacked her. Roland was charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child, simple assault, and threat to do bodily harm.

His bench trial before Judge Susan Winfield of District of Columbia Superior Court took place on October 7 and 8, 2013. The girl testified about how Roland had assaulted her at night in a restroom, after she went to get a snack at the vending machine. She said that Roland molested her and then threatened her if she told anyone. The girl testified she kept quiet about the assault for more than a year, because she believed the threats were real. Roland testified and denied assaulting the girl or doing anything that could be misconstrued as an assault.

Judge Winfield convicted Roland on all counts on October 8, 2013. She said that although R.G. and Roland appeared to be credible, she found R.G.’s testimony to be “outstandingly genuine,” particularly in the girl’s attention to details at the time of the alleged attack. Moreover, Judge Winfield appeared to discount Roland’s testimony, saying he “is much older and therefore more likely to be able to present himself in a credible way.”

Judge Winfield sentenced Roland to 390 days in prison. He quickly appealed, claiming the state’s evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction on October 23, 2014.

Separate from the criminal case, R.G.’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against Roland, the operators of the camp, and American University. They filed the initial complaint on August 2, 2013, and amended the complaint on November 8, 2013, following Roland’s conviction.

During the discovery phase of the civil lawsuit, R.G. was found to have testified falsely about the events of August 2010. This information was incorporated into a separate motion for a new trial, filed on December 18, 2014. Judge Winfield vacated Roland’s conviction on March 17, 2015. The charge was dismissed on December 9, 2015. By then, Roland had been released from prison.

Roland later filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, seeking compensation for his wrongful arrest and conviction. It was settled for $318,000 in 2019.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 5/26/2022
Last Updated: 5/26/2022
State:District of Columbia
County:
Most Serious Crime:Other Violent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:Sexual Assault, Assault, Misdemeanor
Reported Crime Date:2010
Convicted:2013
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:1 year and 25 days
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:25
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No