The West Bloomfield Police recently settled a wrongful prosecution lawsuit with the family of an autistic girl. The girl’s parents – Julian and Thal Wendrow – had been arrested in 2008. A former Oakland County prosecutor charged Julian with first-degree sexual assault, alleging that he had repeatedly raped his severely autistic daughter. His wife was arrested for failure to protect the child. These charges are extremely serious, with penalties including substantial jail time and long-term placement of your name on the Michigan sex-crimes registry as well as significant damage to your reputation in the community.
The charges filed were based solely on the “statements” of the girl who does not speak and functions on the level of a 2-year-old. No physical evidence was collected, but through the use of a method known as “Facilitated Communication,” the girl typed the allegations with a teacher’s aide guiding her hand. This method has been denounced by experts as conveying the aide’s thoughts – not the patient’s.
Despite the unreliable nature of these statements, the parents suffered the nightmare of being charged for sex crimes, having their children taken away and placed in foster care, and being jailed.
The family recently won their wrongful prosecution case against the police officers but seek to maintain an action against the school district for allowing the Facilitated Communication statements to be filed without any sort of check or verification of their accuracy. The U.S. District Court Judge called the case “a very troubling fact situation.”
If you have been charged with any sex crime, it is imperative to immediately contact an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer. Far too often charges are made and pursued by prosecutors where little evidence exists.
For more information, contact Grabel & Associates, a Michigan sex crimes defense law firm dedicated to protecting individual’s rights and future.