innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Where's the Accountability?"

Santa Clara, Calif - May 19, 2006 -- The California State Board ofControl awarded $704,700 to John Stoll to compensate him for the 20 years he spent in state prison, wrongfully convicted of child sexual abuse.

The Stoll case was one of eight Kern County multi-offender, multi-victim sex ring cases prosecuted in the mid 1980s in Bakersfield, California.

Stoll was convicted of 17 counts of child molestation in 1984. Witnesses who testified as children recanted their trial testimony and Stoll was exonerated in April 2004 after Kern County Superior Court Judge John Kelley ruled that techniques investigators used to question the children two decades ago "resulted in unreliable testimony."

To this day, Kern County officials refuse to admit they did anything wrong.

Cookie Ridolfi, Director of the Northern California InnocenceProject (NCIP) at Santa Clara University School of Law and one of Stoll's lawyers said, "It's great that the state of California has acknowledged that this horrible injustice happened here and that they have agreed to pay John compensation, but it's ironic that we allow Kern County police and prosecutors to deny responsibility for any of it, to deny that anything wrong happened. Where's the accountability?"

After Stoll's release in 2004, NCIP filed a claim for compensation onbehalf of John Stoll pursuant to California Penal Code section 4903,which provides $100 a day for each day of wrongful imprisonment.

After investigation of the case, the California Attorney General and StateBoard of Control determined that John Stoll had not committed the crimeshe was convicted of and recommended to the California Legislature thathe be awarded $704,700.00.

"No amount of money can ever truly repair the harm done to John," said Linda Starr, Legal Director of the Northern California Innocence Project.

"John was wrongfully imprisoned for almost twenty years - he lost one-third of his life, his relationship with his son, and his mother. No monetary sum that can replace what he lost."

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