Virginia Man Cleared of Rape
A Virginia man who was convicted of a 2007 rape was exonerated Monday when a Stafford County Circuit Judge vacated the conviction and pointed to inadequate defense.
reported that Edgar Coker, Jr., will be removed from the sex offender registry as per the order by Judge Jane Roush.
Accused by a 14-year-old acquaintance of rape when he was just 15 years old himself, Coker was advised by his attorney to take a plea deal in order to avoid a lengthy prison sentence in an adult facility. Two months later when his accuser admitted that she had lied.
Coker was eventually released from the juvenile prison where he was serving his sentence, but he remained on parole and was required to register as a sex offender. The family was harassed by neighbors as they searched for an attorney before the case was taken up by the
Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law
. The project petitioned for his release from parole in 2009, but the court refused to grant relief. Coker then appealed to the state Supreme Court which paved the way for his conviction to be overturned putting an end to his fight to clear his name.
According to the
, Director of Investigation for the Innocence Project Clinic Diedre Enright said that the state’s lower level courts had “refused to acknowledge the merits” of the case despite the fact that the alleged victim had long ago recanted her story of being assaulted.
In a press release to the University of Virginia Law School, Enright stated: “There are very few people who could have afforded to litigate this case for six years, which emphasizes the importance of law school clinics and organizations that represent clients for free.”
The Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law is part of the Innocence Network, which is an affiliation of organizations that are largely based out of university law schools that are dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted, and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions.
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