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



Watch 19 Action News’ original broadcast below:

Leave a Reply

Thank you for visiting us. You can learn more about how we consider cases here. Please avoid sharing any personal information in the comments below and join us in making this a hate-speech free and safe space for everyone.

This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.

We've helped free more than 240 innocent people from prison. Support our work to strengthen and advance the innocence movement.