Gang rape defendants still trying to prove innocence

February 3, 2012 4:39:03 AM PST
For decades, four convicted men have been trying to clear their names. They say a recording with the woman who says she was attacked proves their innocence and on Thursday, that woman testified under oath.

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary Donald Thompson had been out of prison.

"I don't care if they don't believe me. I know I didn't do it," Thompson said.

Between these three men and a fourth still incarcerated, they've spent 80 years in prison. All were convicted in what was labeled the gang rape of a six-year-old girl in 1984.

Every day of his 23 years in prison, Ricky Mimms maintained his innocence.

"It's one thing to be accused of it. It's another to accept it and receive it and we've never received it. We've never accepted it," Mimms said.

And when the men, all now registered sex offenders, were told they must admit it as part of a rehab program or go back to prison, they spent more time behind bars.

"People see you one way and you know and God knows the truth and that's what matters. So I have to have integrity and keep my head up, and smile regardless," defendant Richard Haynes said.

And while three of them are now free, they will not stop until they clear their names.

"It is a grotesque miscarriage of justice. It is a nightmare that will not stop," said the men's attorney, Sean Buckley.

The attorney representing them says in 2004, the victim told a private investigator in a taped interview these men were not responsible. That audio was played Thursday in court:

"It wasn't my daddy. And can you ... can you just get him out of jail? I'm sorry," the victim says on the tape.

"You're not in trouble," a private investigator tells the girl on the tape.

"Yes I will be, because I lied. I lied," the girl said.

"No, you were a child," the private investigator says.

And while the victim doesn't deny that's her on the tape, she told the court she doesn't remember what happened.

"She's older now, she should know better," Thompson said.

It was not the outcome they had hoped to leave the courthouse with on Thursday. For them, freedom just isn't enough.

"But all I want is my name back so I can live the rest of my life to the best of my ability while I'm out here," Haynes said.

The case will be back in court next month.