A former Fort Worth cop who served 21 years in prison on a conviction of raping a 13-year-old girl was found not guilty in a whole new trial.
Brian Franklin, now 57, who walked out from behind bars in May, was cleared of the charges last week, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Franklin was convicted in 1995 of sexually assaulting the girl, according to a website run by his family.
Franklin’s initial conviction did not involve DNA. Instead, it was based on injuries to the girl’s genitals. Prosecutors claimed those wounds could have only been inflicted by Franklin, since the girl had never had sex with anyone else, The Dallas Morning News reported.
During the initial trial, the color of the bloodstains on underwear – which were bright red, indicating they were fresh – became a debate between forensic serology experts, according to court records. (Franklin’s alleged rape had occurred a month before the exam by a doctor).
Franklin filed a pro-se writ of habeas corpus in 2013, claiming the trial had been tainted by perjury and false testimony.
The victim, who is now in her 30s, maintained in testimony two years ago that she was raped by Franklin in her father’s backyard. But in that same 2014 testimony, she admitted that she had previously lied – and that her stepfather had raped her previous to the attack.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in April 2016 that the original conviction should be thrown out, due to the accuser’s admission of lying under oath.
Texas court records indicate the girl had told police about her stepfather’s sexual abuse as early as 1998 – when Franklin was already three years into a life sentence. A judge at that time called the case against Franklin as built upon “weak inculpatory evidence.” But the appeals court in 2002 dismissed his appeal based on the changing testimony.
“Although (Franklin’s) evidence is important, it is limited to the impeachment of (the victim’s) claim that she did not have sexual relations with other men,” the court wrote. “It certainly calls into question her veracity in general, but only collaterally affects her accusation against applicant.”
Franklin, now a free man, reportedly said the system needs to admit its mistakes.
“I’m not the first and I probably won’t be the last,” he reportedly said. “When the system makes mistakes, they need to admit it.”