Society

Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Rape Is Released From Prison

| by Jonathan Constante

A San Diego man who was falsely accused of raping and pimping a 14-year-old girl has been released from prison after a retrial revealed the accuser was not at all who she said she was.

Scott Espinosa was facing 35 years behind bars after being convicted of six felonies, including pandering, pimping and rape by force, ABC 10 News reports.

During an interview, Lindsay Peterson told police that she was being held captive in Espinosa’s La Mesa apartment. She claimed that 10 men showed up to the apartment and Espinosa forced her to have sex with all of them, two at a time.

The jury was convinced Espinosa was guilty of the charges against him, but attorney Laura Wilson was not.

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Wilson had asked Jeff Carver, Espinosa’s attorney at the time, if she could watch the trial to learn more about how a criminal case was done.

She was angered by the guilty verdict and noted that the accuser’s story changed dramatically from one interview to the next. Wilson said that the rape victim completely contradicted herself.

“She said, ‘Oh, well, yeah, that never happened,'” Wilson told ABC 10 News. “‘I must have dreamed that.’”

Further investigating revealed that Peterson was not at all who she said she was. She told police she was 14 years old, but was actually 23 years old at the time and had three children, none of whom were in her custody.

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In speaking with Espinosa’s neighbors, ABC 10 News learned that Peterson was free to roam around the apartment complex.

“The woman was free to go in the complex,” said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. “She would go to the neighbors to have her hair done. She would go to the other neighbor to smoke a cigarette.”

Wilson sent the judge in Espinosa’s trial a declaration of everything she saw in the case. Judge Michael Smyth granted the new trial and told Espinosa’s new attorney and the new prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office that they could fly to Oregon to interview Peterson’s family.

But ABC 10 News had already interviewed Peterson’s mother and grandmother. They confirmed her real age, that she had been a prostitute, is an excessive liar and frequently abused drugs.

Theresa Peterson said that she couldn’t believe her daughter’s actions and hoped for the best for Espinosa.

“I would like to see him get a fair trial and ultimately a release,” Theresa said.

The San Diego District Attorney’s Office offered Espinosa a plea bargain. He could either go through a second trial or plead guilty to a pandering charge and be released from prison.

Espinosa chose to plead guilty to the pandering charge. He told ABC 10 News that he did not trust the justice system to get it right the second time.

All rape charges were dropped against Espinosa. Four days later, he was released from Vista Jail and greeted by his father and friends.

Espinosa spent 589 days behind bars for crimes he did not commit. But that was not the worst part.

The man revealed that his mother, Brenda, became depressed after his sentencing and committed suicide.

“You know, my mom died thinking that I’m a rapist,” Espinosa said. “You can’t give that back to me.”

District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tanya Sierra issued the following statement to ABC 10 News:

Prosecuting sex crimes cases, such as pimping and pandering, are always difficult. The victims are vulnerable and often inconsistent. In the Scott Espinosa case, a jury found the defendant guilty based on all of the information provided during the trial, including the inconsistencies of the victim. A judge later granted a new trial because of the ineffective assistance of the defendant’s attorney. On the advice of his new defense attorney, the defendant chose to plead guilty before the second trial got underway and we agreed to the plea.

Source: ABC 10 News

Photo Credit: Screenshot from ABC 10 News