A victim recantation has cast new doubt on the case against four young women accused of child molestation in San Antonio, reported the Express-News, potentially corroborating allegations that forensics presented to jurors in the hot-button case were fundamentally flawed and victim testimony by the children at the time was highly inconsistent. "Very little stayed the same from their first statements to police through the last trial — and these accounts differed from the ones their father and grandmother recalled for authorities," the paper reported after an extensive review of the evidence.
In the interest of full disclosure, this possible innocence case is being handled by attorneys working with my employers at the Innocence Project of Texas, though I don't work on the legal side of the organization and have no knowledge of the cases beyond published reports. Reading the two Express-News articles linked above, though, if the four women really were innocent, it points yet again to how powerful victim testimony can be for jurors in court, frequently overcoming contradictions and evidentiary flaws that in hindsight seem clearly significant. One gets the same sense from DNA exoneration cases where convictions were obtained solely based on eyewitness ID, sometimes contradicting credible alibi testimony. Making the matter especially difficult to untangle, often in false ID cases, the witness themselves believe their testimony is accurate. Similarly, in cases where children have been coached and encouraged in their accusations, it's easy for jurors to believe "something happened" based solely on a child declaring in court, "she did it." Such testimony, though, while persuasive isn't always definitive. In this case, the evidence is mounting that jurors may have made a mistake. Read the extensive Express-News stories here and here and judge for yourself.