News 03.23.11

New Tapes Reveal Police Chief Doubts Controversial Ohio Convictions

With the help of the

Ohio Innocence Project

, Lorain County Judge James Burge released and acquitted Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen of child molestation charges stemming from a 1993 allegation of abuse, publically stating that there was never enough evidence to convict the pair.

Both Smith and Allen spent almost 15 years in prison. Earlier this year, however, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected Burge’s conclusion, stating that the judge overstepped his grounds on the acquittal.

The two remain free while the courts sort out the latest decision, but new audio recordings reveal that Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera (who supervised the original investigation) told Smith’s daughter, Amber Bronish, that he did not believe there was ever enough evidence against her mother. Local news station 19 Action News

broke the story and featured Rivera’s comments

:

“During this time, I have begun to have my own questions. Is Nancy Smith innocent, and as a natural extension, is Joseph Allen? Was this a travesty of justice?



I’ve just, you know, become convinced that something drastically wrong happened here.”


Smith was upset by the new tapes

:

“It’s so hard to imagine why they [the police department] would do this to me,” she said sobbing. “That they would do this when they knew all along I was innocent.”

Bronish’s recordings were leaked by Joseph Montelon, a former Lorain police officer, but

Bronish says that she did not give the tapes to either Montelon or her mother’s lawyers

.

Read more in-depth reporting about the case from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer

here

.

Watch 19 Action News’ original broadcast below:

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