- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

ROANOKE (AP) A 13-year-old girl who helped prosecutors convict her mother's boyfriend of child molestation now says she lied because she wanted him out of the house they shared.

Aleck J. Carpitcher, 45, was sentenced in 1999 to 38 years in prison based largely on the girl's testimony. The Innocence Project, a network of lawyers devoted to freeing the wrongfully convicted, filed a habeas corpus petition Thursday in Roanoke County Circuit Court asking that he be set free.

"I did not know that he would get in so much trouble or that he would have to spend the rest of his life in prison," the girl said in an affidavit filed with the petition. "I felt like everything backfired, and now I am trying to make things right."

The 41-page petition also claims that Carpitcher's attorney failed to investigate the case properly, and that prosecutors withheld earlier statements from the girl that were inconsistent with her testimony information that could have been used to question her credibility.

"The state's evidence evolved constantly over the period of a year," said Christopher Amolsch, an Alexandria lawyer who is one of four Innocence Project lawyers involved in the case.

Even if prosecutors didn't know for sure if the girl was lying, he said, they should have suspected as much.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Buchanan, who prosecuted Carpitcher, was out of his office and could not be reached for comment yesterday. In the past, he has said that he believes the girl testified truthfully.

The girl testified that Carpitcher molested her numerous times over six months in 1998. In June 1999, Carpitcher was convicted of aggravated sexual battery, animate object sexual penetration and taking indecent liberties.

In her affidavit, the girl said she objected to the live-in boyfriend because he drank too much and once threw a bicycle at her mother during an argument.

"I begged my mother to stop seeing him," she said. "I told her I would do anything to break her and Aleck up. I was very hurt when, despite my strong feelings, my mother continued to see Aleck. … I felt my mother had chosen Aleck over me."

About that time, the girl said, she learned about sexual abuse in one of her fourth-grade classes. "I knew that if I accused Aleck of sexual abuse, he would have to go away," she said in the affidavit.

"She was absolutely believable," said the jury foreman, who asked the Roanoke Times not to publish his name. "Based upon what I know and what I saw in that girl's eyes, and her testimony, myself and the other 11 jurors really believed he was guilty."

Now that the girl has recanted, though, the juror says Carpitcher should be allowed to present that evidence in court.

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