did daddy do it?
home
a monster
lessons from the 80s
interviewing children
the miami method
discussion

ileanas letter of recantation
In October 1994, Frank Fuster's appeals attorney Arthur Cohen traveled to Honduras and obtained a deposition in which Ileana repudiated her testimony in Frank's trial and denied that sexual abuse had occurred at Country Walk day care. However, not long after Ileana gave her deposition, Cohen learned from a reporter with The Miami Herald that Ileana had signed the following letter, recanting the statement she gave Cohen.

Some background: As recounted in FRONTLINE's report, Ileana changed her story in this letter following a visit from a famous Miami Baptist preacher, Reverend Tommy Watson. He flew to Honduras to talk to Ileana and immediately thereafter she wrote this letter. Rev. Watson, Shirley Blando--a volunteer at the Dade County jail who had befriended Ileana--and another church donor had paid Ileana's college tuition and other expenses. Ileana tells FRONTLINE (read the interview): "I was under a lot of pressure when they came down to Honduras to make me sign this [letter]. They remind me that Janet Reno was the U.S. Attorney General. They also remind me of all the trouble that I could go through and I can be put back into that cell. And I was afraid--I had another year left in college and I couldn't pay for it."

March 18, 1995

To whom it may concern:
From time to time lawyers and others have attempted to contact me to give some statements as to what really happened at Country Walk. After much pressure, I told the lawyers to stop bothering me and I called some Christians [sic] friends and told them of the pressure the lawyers were putting on me and they told me that I was not strong enough emotionally to deal with high power attorneys to which I agreed. However, the lawyers were able to find me and walk in unannounced into my life. The lawyers told me that they had new evidence to prove that nothing had happened at Country Walk. And they told me that this new evidence will clear my name and criminal Record. The more I listened the more confused I became. My mind became cloudy and my thinking not clear. They continued to show me what they call new evidence and talking to me about how the State of Florida brainwashed me and even used me for their own purpose 10 years ago.

They started asking questions of the past and events, I got into a deep depression and started remembering my horrible past, every time I think about it, it is like living it all over again. Even after so many years, I still ask myself why all of these things happened to me, how can there be so many evil people infesting this world. The lawyer started reminding me of Country Walk. Mr. Cohen started asking questions one after the other and at the same time giving me an explanation why it was wrong to believe Frank Fuster was guilty. All of the sudden I was transported back to 10 years ago and the rumbling in my head began. I did not know it was a deposition. When I was completely emotionally drained they asked if I had said the truth and being in a state of total confusion I said yes. I was asked to sign my statement and I did. There was a lady with the lawyer and she was supposed to be his secretary, but now I found out she was a Court Reporter. The lawyer also told me that anything I had said will not be used in court for any reason but to clear my name and that was their promise. I was surprised to hear that such document was presented to the Court as a deposition and specially as an asset to get Frank Fuster to get a new trial. Now that I had time to reflect and not under the pressure of people trying to convince me otherwise, I want my testimony in Court to remain as given 10 years ago. Frank Fuster is guilty, not only of hurting the children but also of hurting me when I was only 16 years of age. I'm not a little girl anymore and now as an adult I can protect myself from him.

I am sorry for the embarrassment that I have may cause to anyone that try to help me in time past. I do not wish to give any other deposition that could be different than the one given 10 years ago. Again, Frank Fuster did horrible things to me and I know he did the same to the children, he deserves to be where he is now. I don't want to be a victim anymore and I wish his attorneys to leave me alone please.

I was anxious to have my name cleared, but I now realize, that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that Jesus Christ has cleared my past and I am forgiven.

[signed]
Ileana Flores

[signed]
Tommy Watson, Witness

According to Ileana, she was pressured to sign this statement by Rev. Tommy Watson, a Baptist preacher whom she had befriended through Shirley Blando, the chaplain at the prison where she was held. After Ileana returned to Honduras, Rev. Watson, Shirley Blando and another church donor had paid for Ileana's college tuition in addition to other expenses. "I was under a lot of pressure when they came down to Honduras to make me sign this," Ileana told FRONTLINE. "Apparently because my testimony was gonna reopen the case and they remind me that Janet Reno was the United States attorney general and that I was still not too far from the United States. They also remind me of all the trouble that I could go through and I can be put back into that cell. And I was afraid I was going to lose my -- I had another year left in college and, I mean, I couldn't pay for it."

home : introduction : a monster? : lessons from the 80s : interviewing children
miami method : discussion : interviews : video : producer chat : tapes & transcripts
press : credits : privacy : FRONTLINE : wgbh : pbsi

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Prison StateApril 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS