Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bulletin: Clyde Ray Spencer; Washington State; National Trial Lawyers publication reports on the exonerated father's $9 million award after serving 20 years in prison on false sex charges. ( A horror story of a criminal justice system gone evil. If only this had been an April Fools Day prank! Opens up so many questions: Like what happened to the police and prosecutors responsible for the debacle? (Promotions?) And who is looking at the other cases they handled? Must Read. HL.

STORY: "Exonerated father awarded $9 million after 20 years in prison on false sex abuse charges," by reporter Larry Bodine, published by the National Trial Lawyers on March 26, 2014. (Thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for bringing this story to our attention. HL);

GIST: "A father who spent 20 years in prison based on sex abuse evidence fabricated by two former Clark County, WA, sheriff’s detectives was awarded $9 million by a federal court jury that ruled that the authorities violated his constitutional right to due process. The jury verdict in the civil rights case was the latest in a series of exonerations for former Vancouver, WA, policeman Clyde Ray Spencer. He had been sentenced in 1985 to two life terms plus 14 years on false charges that he sexually abused his daughter Katie Spencer Tetz, then age 5, son Matt Spencer, then age 9, and stepson Matt Hansen, then age 5. The Governor commuted Spencer’s sentence in 2004, and his conviction was subsequently thrown out. “This case is so incredibly simple,” attorney Kathleen Zellner told the jury during opening statements. “It has to do with the deliberate fabrication of evidence” by former sheriff’s detective Sharon Krause and her boss, former detective sergeant Michael Davidson. Krauss and Davidson were both held liable. “The motivation was sex an(d)  ambition.” Zellner, of Downers Grove, IL, is a member of the National Trial Lawyers........After 13 days of testimony in court in Tacoma, WA, from 25 witnesses — several key factors led to the on February 3 jury verdict:.......,Spencer’s wife, who called policed about the abuse claims, was secretly having an affair with Sgt. Davidson, who led the investigation of Spencer. This was not revealed until after Spencer was in prison. ..Spencer’s natural children Matt Spencer and Katie Tetz testified that they were never abused. ..The stepson maintained that we was abused. However, he has a long criminal record for crimes including burglary and forgery. The authorities reduced his sentence in exchange for his testimony against Spencer. ..The detectives concealed medical exams showing that Spencer’s son and daughter were not abused. ..They also fabricated polygraph test results to make it look as if Spencer was lying when questioned about the abuse claims. ..Deputy prosecutor James Peters made a video showing that he coaxed Spencer’s daughter to say her father abused her. The video, which undermines the prosecution’s case, was not found until 2009 in Det. Krause’s garage.. Det. Krause held unorthodox meetings with the Spencer children, interviewing them in unrecorded sessions, buying them gifts and candy. She told the children their father was “sick” and that they they could heal him by accusing him of sexual crimes...Attorney Zellner charged that Det. Krause was motivated by advancing her career, and that after she started working in the field the conviction rate in child abuse cases rose by 800%. She had been a hotel clerk and met police officers who came to the hotel bar. She joined the Clark County Sheriff’s Department and became a detective investigating child sex abuse, even though she had no training in the subject area."

The entire story can be found at:


National Registry of Exonerations entry: "After about a decade in prison, Spencer hired Seattle attorney Peter Camiel, who, along with a private investigator, discovered that prosecutors had withheld medical exams showing that there was no physical evidence of abuse, even though the child’s mother contended they had been repeatedly raped. Also withheld was evidence that at the time, the children’s mother was having an affair with the detective supervising the investigation. The discovery prompted Washington Governor Gary Locke to commute Spencer’s sentence in 2004, although Spencer was placed on supervision for three years. Not long after, Spencer’s two natural children came forward to say they were never molested or raped by their father. Both of the children testified at a hearing in 2009 that the abuse never occurred. The boy testified that after being repeatedly and extensively questioned, he finally agreed to say he was abused so that the police would leave him alone. The girl testified that she doesn’t recall what she told police, but she did remember getting ice cream. The step-son refused to recant and contended he had been molested.  In October, 2009, based on the Brady violations and recantations, a court of appeals vacated the plea, saying, “The recantations that remained consistent through direct and cross-examination coupled with the significant irregularities in how the case was prosecuted…require that we grant Spencer’s petition and remand for withdrawal of his plea.” On September 29, 2010, Spencer withdrew his plea and at the same time, Clark County prosecutors dismissed the charges."

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
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