A man who went to prison rather than falsely admit that he was a child molester was freed Friday morning after 14 years behind bars.
State District Judge Susan Hawk said it was “unjust” that he had remained behind bars for years after his stepdaughter admitted she’d lied about the abuse.
Dale Lincoln Duke’s stepdaughter had recanted her claim of abuse in 1992, but at judge at that time apparently didn’t believe her. It was recently learned that the Dallas County District Attorney's office had withheld evidence during Duke’s trial which showed that the child's grandmother thought the child was lying.
After Duke plead no contest to the aggravated sexual assault charges, he was placed on probation, but sent to prison when he didn't admit to the abuse as part of his therapy. Duke, now 60, said Friday that he refused to confess to a crime he didn’t commit because the Bible says, “Do not bear false witness.” ...
The girl first recanted in 1998, but a judge who is no longer on the bench refused to release Duke. Then, in March, the DA's office discovered in their files a note saying that the child's grandmother believed the abuse allegation was false and that the girl's aunt had encouraged the lie.In most Texas counties this would never have come to light. It's only happening in Dallas because DA Craig Watkins established his "Conviction Integrity Unit" to review old cases. Count this episode as yet another argument why there needs to be some mechanism for holding prosecutors accountable when they withhold exculpatory evidence. Congrats to Duke, his attorney Robert Udashen, and to Watkins' office for having the rare courage to expose errors instead of cover them up.