We know, as criminal defense lawyers, that false accusations of sex offenses happen. Allegations of rape, sexual battery and even child sexual abuse are made for many reasons other than holding an individual responsible for criminal acts. We defend those falsely accused of a sex crime and work to help clear the names of those who are wrongly facing the North Carolina criminal justice system.
As happens with many sex offense cases, the criminal justice system isn’t the only place that an individual must deal with false accusations. The court of public opinion is often much worse than any court of justice.
A South Carolina man knows all-to-well what it feels like to be falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and to be wrongly identified as a registered sex offender. An owner of two units in a condominium complex, the man was pinned as a registered sex offender by the several members of the condo’s board.
A flyer from the registry’s website was circulated around the association that included the name of the registered offender and a description of the crime. Other condo association members wrongly identified the man as their neighbor and fellow condo owner despite only small similarities in name and appearance. One person went so far as to call the bank that held the mortgage on the condo-owner’s units to inform it that it was doing business with a registered sex offender.
The condo owner fought back and was recently awarded just under $900,000 in damages from the condo association.
There are at least two sad lessons to this story: 1- False accusations can have a broad and unfair impact on a person’s life. 2 – Those who are forced to register as sex offenders, even for a misdemeanor sexual battery offense in North Carolina – will face substantial public scrutiny and judgment from others, no matter where they live or work.
Source: Herald Online, “SC man awarded $890K for false sex offender claim,” December 13, 2013