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After 105 days, wrongfully charged North Carolina man freed from jail

Imagine being accused of and charged with a crime you didn't commit. After spending 105 days in jail, one North Carolina man who was wrongly convicted of serious criminal charges is speaking out. His life turned upside down, the 50-year-old man lost his house, job and good name when he was arrested and charged with sex crimes including rape and child pornography.

This past June, police officers in one North Carolina community closed in on individuals believed to be involved in a child pornography ring. Appealing for the public's assistance in tracking down the suspects, police released photographs of the individuals. Upon learning his photo was included among those of the suspects, the 50-year-old man reported to authorities to clear up the misunderstanding. The only evidence linking the man to any of the other suspects was a photo from 2011, when, in an unrelated matter, the man visited the home of one suspect.

Despite the lack of evidence and the man's denials of any wrongdoing, prosecutors moved forward with the case and formally charged the man with first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense with a child and felony conspiracy. He was locked up in a jail cell where he remained for more than 100 days.

While behind bars, he lost his well-paying job of 15 years and his home. With only a photo linking the man to a one-time meeting with one of the suspects involved in the case, he was finally released from jail in October. All criminal charges against him were "dropped and expunged from all public records." However, for the man, nothing can erase the damage caused by being wrongly accused of and charged with felony sex crimes.

Seeking justice, he plans to sue county officials. However, no amount of money can erase the painful memories and financial repercussions of losing his home, job and very freedom.

As this case illustrates, law enforcement officials and prosecutors aren't immune to making mistakes, the effects of which can have serious and long-lasting ramifications. Charlotte area residents who are facing criminal charges would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. A defense attorney will work to refute evidence and defend an individual's rights.

Source: News Observer, "Johnston County man putting life back together after he's cleared in child sex case," Thomasi McDonald, Nov. 28, 2014

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