The alleged crime:
It seems from the
data that is currently available to us that this is a clear indication of
a man rotting in jail, totally innocent of a dozen crimes of which he was charged and convicted. He was one of many victims of the Satanic Panic of the 1980's and early 1990's.
Michael Parker has been imprisoned in North Carolina since about 1992.
As in many other cases of child sexual abuse, allegations arose during a
divorce case and custody battle. He is alleged to have been the high
priest of an underground Satanic cult operating in his neighborhood of North Carolina. Over
thirty people in the area were originally accused of ritual abuse of children,
including Parker's own mother. According to Robert Chatelle, an advocate
for the wrongfully accused:
"Only Michael was ever brought to trial.
The prosecution evidently came to realize that the case was so ludicrous
that they couldn't hope to keep Michael in prison if they proceeded with
the other charges."
His mother pleaded "no contest."
None of the children had initially made any allegations of abuse. However, his
former wife had been impressed by a book about Satanism, and had taken the
children to therapists. During counseling, they disclosed having been
abused by Satanists wearing Ku Klux Klan robes. One of the children
testified that her father raped her with a big spoon. She said that it
filled with blood, and that he poured it into a cup and drank it. One of
his daughters, who had been in a mental hospital, said that Parker had
molested her. She said that a poster on her bedroom wall, which advertised
the "I Love Lucy" show, talked to her and told her that she
deserved all her suffering.
Parker was tried in 1994-JAN for ritually abusing his three young children.
The charges included eight counts of first-degree sex offense and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. He was found guilty on all charges. He had been unable to afford a lawyer. The jury only took 55 minutes to return their verdict. He was imprisoned and was not be be eligible for parole until
the year 2154 -- a date which is perhaps a century beyond his probable life expectancy.
One of Michael's children allegedly sent a letter to a newspaper which
said that no abuse ever happened and that the children were pressured into
making the accusations.
2014-AUG/SEP: The exoneration:
Michael Parker, now 57, had been imprisoned for over two decades for crimes that we believe he didn't commit, and which didn't even happen.
Romando Dixson, writing for the Citizen Times of Asheville, NC, said that Parker's lawyer, Sean Devereux:
"... made a motion for appropriate belief based on numerous grounds, including: the ineffective assistance of trial counsel; newly discovered medical evidence; new evidence from Parker's former co-defendant; newly discovered evidence regarding child testimony; recantation of one of his children's testimony; the state failed to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding a bomb scare during Parker's trial; ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; and cumulative error."
Devereaux's motion to the court said, in part:
"From the shape-shifting stories of the Parker children â€" stories encouraged and manipulated by adults with a variety of interests in the outcome â€" to the inaccurate and unchallenged expert testimony, to the illusory 'bomb scare,' to the evangelistic rantings of the prosecution, the trial of Michael Alan Parker was an affront to everything North Carolinians want to believe about our criminal justice system. ... The outcome remains a stain on that system."
Devereaux said that Michael Parker had been offered a deal in 2013 whereby he would be released if he first pleaded guilty to some of the offenses. Devereaux said:
"He wouldn't do that. He stayed in another year â€" and potentially stayed in forever. He's a pretty courageous guy."
Devereaux also said that all of the defendents that had been imprisoned in the U.S. for satanic ritual abuse have had their convictions overturned. Parker may be the last one to be released.
Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman objected to Parker's release. He said:
"We believe that this defendant did something to this kid. I think the question of what he did has been raised, and I think there's a legitimate issue there. So we may never know for sure. This happened a long time ago. ... I feel that a Henderson County jury, 21-plus years ago, reached a verdict, and I don't know â€" no one knows â€" what evidence they found to be significant. We don't know whether it was medical proof, we don't know whether it was the testimony of the kid. We don't know exactly. Only those 12 people know. ... My position has been that they reached that verdict. The Court of Appeals has said the trial was conducted properly and they upheld the conviction. And I saw nothing that would cause me to take a different position."
2014-AUG-26: The release:
Judge Marvin Pope dismissed all of the charges against Parker on 2014-AUG-25 and ordered his release.
His brother, Larry Wayne Parker Sr., said: "I'm elated that justice has been finally served." 2
Upon his release, he said:
"When I walked in that courtroom, I wasn't 100 percent sure what the judge was gonna do. He could've said no. Anything could have happened. But when he said charges dismissed, it was a sinking feeling in my heart. It's indescribable. ... I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm not disappointed but I am gonna say that I have a forgiving heart, I understand their motives, but I'm just thankful to God that I was strong enough to outlive their motives to put me here." 3
Referring to the offer he had received to be released if he pleaded guilty to some of the charges, Parker said:
"If you're innocent, you're not going to stand in front of anyone and say that you committed a crime that you didn't commit. That would be weak. There's a lot of people that get scared and plead guilty, afraid of getting a life sentence or whatever. But I would've just chosen to live out my life in here before I would've admitted to a wrong that I've never done, especially to my own family."
As for his future plans, he said:
" I used to love to walk around in the woods and just look up in the sky and look at the birds and squirrels and stuff running around. You can't do that in here. That's out. I'd like to look at the stars at night. I'd like to go outside at night and look at the moon.I used to love to walk around in the woods and just look up in the sky and look at the birds and squirrels and stuff running around ... You can't do that in here. That's out. I'd like to look at the stars at night. I'd like to go outside at night and look at the moon." 3
Martin Gardner, "Notes of a Fringe-Watcher: Tragedies of False
Memories," Skeptical Inquirer, 1994-Fall, at: http://www.skepticfiles.org/false/mgfmsasc.htm
Romando Dixson, "Judge orders Henderson County man freed after 20 years," Citizen-Times, Asheville, NC, 2014-AUG-25, at: http://www.citizen-times.com/
Romando Dixson, "Sex charges dropped, Parker exits prison ready to live," Citizen-Times, 2014-AUG-26, at: http://www.citizen-times.com/
Copyright Â© 2002 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants
on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-SEP-02
Author: B.A. Robinson