Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Deaf Texan Exonerated of Child Sex Assault Freed

Deaf Texan Exonerated of Child Sex Assault Freed

September 29, 2010

A deaf man exonerated of the rape of a 5-year-old suburban Dallas girl was released Tuesday after 17 years in prison, one day after a judge determined he was innocent.

Stephen Brodie's dad was there to greet the 39-year-old north Texas man when he walked out of the Dallas County jail. Brodie said through an interpreter that he was looking forward to being able to have lunch with his dad, J. Steve Brodie, now that he was out of jail.

Brodie also received an apology from Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose office had reopened the case and whose investigation ultimately led to Brodie's exoneration.

In this June 24, 2010 file photo, deaf inmate Stephen Brodie uses sign language to answer a question through an interpreter during a jailhouse interview in Dallas. A judge has set aside the 1993 conviction of Brodie, who was sent to prison for raping a 5-year-old girl despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack.

Stephen Brodie was sent to prison for raping a 5-year-old girl despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack. He was released Tuesday after a judge determined he was innocent.

A bureaucratic matter had kept Brodie from being released Monday, when a judge ruled Brodie had been wrongly prosecuted despite an absence of physical evidence linking him to the attack. Brodie also was serving prison time for failing to register in Lamar County as a sex offender. With the elimination of his 1993 conviction in the 1990 rape of the Richardson girl, he no longer needed to register and state prison officials signed off on his release Tuesday.

Brodie originally was arrested in 1991 for stealing quarters from a vending machine at a community swimming pool. While he was being questioned about that crime, police began asking about the unsolved rape of the 5-year-old girl a year earlier.

The case was reopened after his father wrote a letter to Watkins' office, which had started a unit dedicated to re-examining possible innocence cases.

Brodie has been deaf since childhood, but police questioned him for hours without an interpreter. He eventually confessed, but later told The Associated Press he felt scared and pressured.

Richardson police said Monday that Brodie initially declined their offer of an interpreter.

When a judge ruled the confession was admissible at trial, Brodie and his attorney figured a guilty verdict, which was punishable by up to 99 years, was all but certain. So they cut a deal - pleading guilty to assaulting the girl in exchange for a five-year sentence. After serving that sentence, Brodie served two more prison stints totaling five more years for twice failing to register as a sex offender.

Brodie was convicted even though a hair and a fingerprint that police believed came from the perpetrator were not a match. Moore said prosecutors failed to notify Brodie's trial attorney that testing showed the hair excluded Brodie as the source.

When Brodie was arrested and convicted, police knew the fingerprint, found on the window through which the perpetrator entered the victim's home, did not match their suspect or anyone living there.

A year after Brodie's conviction, police learned the fingerprint belonged to Robert Warterfield, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in 1994. Warterfield also was suspected by Dallas police in the dozen unsolved sexual assaults and attempted assaults of young girls in the Dallas area.

Warterfield, who is free and working for a yard service in Stephenville, according to the state sex offender registry, was never charged in the attack for which Brodie served time...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Report: Significant cheating by FBI agents on exam

Report: Significant cheating by FBI agents on exam

Sept. 27, 2010

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation has found that FBI agents, including several supervisors, cheated on an important test covering the bureau's policies for conducting surveillance on Americans.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said Monday that his limited review of allegations that agents improperly took the open-book test together or had access to an answer sheet has turned up "significant abuses and cheating."

Fine called on the bureau to discipline the agents, throw out the results and come up with a new test to see if FBI agents understand new rules allowing them to conduct surveillance and open files on Americans without evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said that in cases in which misconduct has been determined, personnel actions were taken, and that process continues.

"We will follow up in each of the 22 cases the IG has found for disciplinary action, as appropriate, as well as any other allegations of misconduct," the FBI director said in a statement. Mueller said that when allegations of misconduct "first came to our attention, we moved quickly to investigate, bringing in the Office of Inspector General."

The troubling review of the exam on surveillance rules follows Fine's report last week on the FBI's scrutiny of domestic activist groups. That investigation found that the FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public when it claimed a possible terrorism link to justify monitoring an anti-war rally in Pittsburgh in 2002. That IG report also criticized the factual basis for opening or continuing FBI domestic terrorism investigations of some other nonviolent left-leaning groups.

In the inquiry into the exam, the inspector general looked only at four FBI field offices and found enough troubling information to warrant a comprehensive review by the FBI.

In one FBI field office, four agents exploited a computer software flaw "to reveal the answers to the questions as they were taking the exam," Fine said.

Other test-takers used or circulated materials that essentially provided the test answers, he said.

Fine said that almost all of those who cheated "falsely certified" that they did the work themselves, without the help of others.

Last year, Assistant Director Joseph Persichini, the head of the FBI's Washington field office that investigates congressional wrongdoing and other crime in the nation's capital, retired amid a review of test-taking in his office.

Persichini wrote down the answers to the test while two of his most senior managers were in the room taking the exam together, the IG said. Persichini used the answers he had written down to complete the exam another day, the IG added. A legal adviser also was in the room with Persichini and the two agents discussing the questions and possible answers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he was "especially disheartened that several FBI supervisors cheated on this exam" and the senator called on the FBI to implement "a more trustworthy exam process going forward and hold accountable those responsible for the cheating."...