Child Abuser Freed After 20 Years in Prison After Victims Recant [USA]
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A judge Friday threw out the child molestation conviction of a man who spent 20 years in prison after most of his alleged victims claimed the assaults never happened. John Stoll, now 60, was convicted in 1985 on 17 counts of child molestation. Attorneys for two Innocence Project chapters in California have sought his freedom since January, claiming authorities used improper interview techniques to coerce false testimony from the child victims, ranging from 6 to 8 years old. Doctors never examined the children who claimed to have been molested by Stoll and others at house parties that allegedly included sodomy and group sex. Four of Stoll’s accusers, now adults, testified in January they were manipulated by investigators who dogged them for hours until they fabricated the stories. A fifth witness testified that he has no memories from that part of his childhood. “The petitioner has met the burden of showing that the interview techniques … resulted in unreliable testimony from child witnesses,” Kern County Superior Court Judge John Kelly said Friday. Stoll claims he was swept up in a wave of hysteria that washed over the nation in the 1980s and led to the trials of hundreds of people. Many later had their convictions overturned for reasons including prosecutorial misconduct and coercive interview techniques now believed to produce false statements from children. Stoll will remain in custody until a May 4 hearing to determine when he will be released…..