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Charles Staples III

Other Connecticut exonerations
On November 3, 1990, police in Plainfield, Connecticut took 28-year-old Charles Staples III to the police station and interrogated him after his wife, K.M., accused him of sexually assaulting her eight-year-old daughter, L.B., who was Staples’s stepdaughter.

Staples was accused of sexually assaulting L.B. on October 30, 1990. He vehemently denied the allegation. After he was released, he was so distraught that he attempted to end his life by ingesting a bottle of sleeping pills.

Staples survived, and on December 3, 1990, he was arrested on charges of first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child.

On June 14, 1991, Staples, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps reserves, entered an Alford plea in Windham County Superior Court which allowed him to maintain his innocence, but acknowledged that the prosecution had evidence sufficient to obtain a conviction. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Staples later attributed his survival in prison to his training as a Marine. As his lawyer later recounted, “Word spread; everyone inside knew inmate number 1015 [Staples] was there for raping a child, and immediately other inmates let Mr. Staples know that they knew.”

He witnessed a fatal stabbing of one inmate by another inmate, survived multiple prison riots, and was himself assaulted on three occasions by groups of other inmates. Eventually, he was released on parole on August 3, 2001.

In 2017, his stepdaughter reached out to him, and said the allegation of sexual assault was false. L.B. also subsequently signed an affidavit, saying that her mother had coached her and forced her to make the false allegation. She said that the day after Staples, whom she called “Dad,” was arrested, another man moved into the house.

In the affidavit, she said that her mother “verbally, physically, and psychologically abused me. Before and after her marriage to Chuck, she would leave me alone in the house, often for days at a time without supervision or even saying she’d be gone. I recall making sandwiches for my younger sister with just two pieces of bread and mustard.”

“Chuck was never abusive to me in any way,” she said. “I was not given a voice beyond my mother’s. I recall my mother putting words into my mouth and gas lighting me while Chuck was facing charges. When I spoke to people who I [now] understand were part of the police investigation, my mother would say things such as ‘don’t you remember when Chuck…’ and then add in some incriminating allegation that I did not remember. I do not recall ever speaking with police outside of my mother’s presence.”

“As an adult with kids of my own, I understand now that [K.M.] was coaching me and manipulating me to incriminate my step-father,” she said. “I have no memories of Chuck ever being inappropriate with me.”

In 2020, Staples applied for a pardon based on the recantation. On December 2, 2020, the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles granted Staples an absolute pardon.

On May 5, 2022, attorney Steven Zoni filed a claim for compensation with the state of Connecticut. The claim was supported by L.B.’s affidavit and the pardon.

“Mr. Staples likens his time inside to torture,” the claim said. “Certainly, he says now, if he hadn’t been an enlisted member of the Marine Corps [prior to being charged], trained to resist torture and in hand-to-hand combat, he would have died in prison, whether by homicide or suicide. The guards told Mr. Staples how lucky it was for him that he had military training…as a Marine he had good odds of surviving when forced to fight prison.”

Following his release, Staples had spent another five years on special probation and was required to register as a sex offender.

On February 22, 2024, the Office of the Claims Commissioner approved an award of $1,550,000 in compensation to Staples.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/7/2024
Last Updated: 3/7/2024
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:Child Abuse
Reported Crime Date:1990
Sentence:30 years
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No