It’s that icky topic that makes you cringe when you even hear the term: child molestation. It’s a devastating and disgusting crime, one that society condemns so much, we often convict the accused in our hearts and minds before we even hear the evidence. Often times these are just and sound assertions, but what about the times when it is not?
What would you do if the police showed up at your door and accused you of child molestation? What would you do if you were then arrested for charges that spawned because of the actions of someone else? And how would you handle being incarcerated for two years with 18 left to serve? And after conviction, would you find faith to push forward to continue to fight for your freedom and the vindication of you and your innocence? And one last thing to ponder: how would you cope if you were denied a new trial after the evidence used to convict you was found to be false?
If we were to fog bubble back in time to 2011 when this whole debacle began, we would meet a gentleman named Scott Dean. Scott and his wife Renee had a quiet (as political ones can be), quaint life in Columbia County where Dean served as a Harlem City Council member before being elected as a County Commissioner. Dean and his wife had two biological sons and five adopted children from Guatemala. Life was simple and though Dean had some indiscretions at work, Dean was well-liked in the community and a charitable man of faith. Cue mirror-shattering moment.
In February of 2011, Dean was accused of exposing himself by dropping a towel (though the accuser did later state she wasn’t sure if Dean even saw her in the room when he dropped the towel) and inappropriately touching his adopted teenage daughter. He was charged with child molestation. (The link to the child molestation section of the Georgia code is here. It is worth reviewing so you may analyze the “parallel” between code terminology and the acts asserted in this case.)
From the get-go, it was evident the State was on a one-track mind. The prosecutor made it known that he planned to introduce evidence of “similar acts” from the past. ADA Parks White referenced a supposed 1984 Virginia incident (when Dean was just 14 years old and two young females (age 12) with a group of other young females) that was never pursued or prosecuted. No charges were ever filed. The prosecutor presented this information to the public before the Judge ever ruled on the admission of such at trial. It was ultimately permitted at trial but what went ignored were the “similar acts” of the victim and her prior false claims against another guardian, as well as her use of similar allegations to have her and her sister removed from their home in Guatemala. It seems the young lady simply used false allegations to leave a home whenever she was unhappy…and she was truly unhappy with her adopted mother, Renee Dean.
In 2011, Scott Dean was convicted of two counts of child molestation of his adopted teenage daughter based on her statements and the ‘inappropriate act’ as a 14 year old boy with a 12-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison (the maximum) followed by 20 years probation.
A few months after the conviction (but prior to the sentencing), daughter Silda Dean told a DFCS worker that the allegations were a lie. The social worker informed her supervisor and DFCS legal counsel but no further action was ever taken. In March of 2013, Dean’s adopted daughter formally recanted (in a letter) her statements claiming he sexually assaulted her, admitting everything was a lie. Testifying in early October that her allegations were indeed false was legally not enough to grant a new trial.
Scott Dean made a couple bad decisions. He chose to wonder outside of his marriage and away from his wife in an inappropriate relationship with a county employee and he chose to rub some folks the wrong way as a politico in Augusta, but neither of these acts render the incessant persecution of a man for such heinous crimes. We utilize due process and the presumption of innocence for a reason. When we allow a case to spiral out of control without discretion and checks, lives are destroyed. The Court of Appeals claimed that “Absolute Proof” isn’t required. Instead, the judges believe that the testimony of the two witnesses met that burden of proof. That testimony has since been retracted. Now what?
There is still an opportunity to rectify the situation. We must question the District Attorney, the Judge, the Courts and demand an answer as to why, in light of such vindicating, game-changing evidence, a man still sits in prison with no hope and no chance of a new trial. If a now ADULT victim, freely and willingly admits that no improper acts occurred , why is a man in prison? How can a man be charged with a serious, life-changing felony with no victim? I charge you to consider if this man was your husband, your brother, your father. At a minimum, you would want a fair and just trial with the pertinent evidence. If the prosecution’s case is airtight, a second trial should yield the same result.
Keep in mind that if the Courts fail to seek justice, even just once, the wheels will eventually fall off wagon for the entire legal system. While you mull that over, Mr. Dean waits in Georgia State Prison in Reidsville.