PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reinstated the conviction of an Oregon man in a sex abuse case more than a decade ago.
Scott Jones of Lincoln County was found guilty in 2003 of unlawful sexual penetration. The female and two witnesses recanted their testimony years later, leading a federal judge to throw out the conviction.
The appeals court, however, noted that all three people came forward with new stories at roughly the same time, casting doubt on their veracity. Even if they were telling the truth, the court said, their revised accounts were not enough to prove that Jones is actually innocent.
“A reasonable juror could very well believe that (the victim’s) memory of the abuse faded or changed in the more than 13 years since the incident occurred and, for that reason, credit the testimony that was closer in time to the abuse,” Court of Appeals Judge Wallace Tashima wrote.
Jones, 32, has been in the Two Rivers Correctional Institution for 11 years and his earliest possible release date is in 2017.
His attorney, Ellen Pitcher, said she wanted to read the 22-page opinion again before commenting.
“We’ll be deciding what steps we are going to take in the next couple days,” she said.
Jones said at a 2013 hearing before a federal judge that he was sexually naive at 17 and was only looking for the girl’s clitoris during the incident that occurred in the late 1990s. He said he never penetrated her with his finger, as the female alleged.
In recanting her testimony, the girl said she was unaware of her own anatomy back then, and only later realized that Jones did not commit the crime.
“She explains that she was raised in a very conservative household, where she never received sex education,” the opinion states.
Jones was also convicted of abusing another girl. He has already completed his sentence for that crime.
Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.