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interview: ileana flores

Key Sections:

· Her treatment in prison
· The "Behavior Changers"
· Janet Reno
· Her recantation and later letter repudiating it

She was the state's star witness in the 1985 Miami child molestation trial of Frank Fuster, her former husband. Her testimony helped convict him. She herself pled guilty to lewd assault and sexual battery, received a 10-year sentence, and was deported to Honduras after her release. She talks about how she met and married Fuster, their arrests, the threats she says state investigators made; the brutal jail conditions and the late night visits from Dade County's then-state attorney, Janet Reno. She tells FRONTLINE that her damning testimony against Fuster was the result of a concerted effort by Reno's office to break her down physically and psychologically and make her testify falsely against her husband. She also explains why, years later, she recanted that original trial testimony, subsequently repudiated that recantation, and, why we now should believe her when she says Fuster is innocent. This interview was conducted in July 2001.

Ileana, can you go back to the very beginning of your story: your arrival in the United States. You came to the United States when you were how old?

That was in 1982. I can remember I just turned 14 years old. I'd just finished my ninth grade in Honduras, and came to visit my mom. ...

And what did you think of the U.S.?

Oh, it was wonderful, it was great. ... I liked everything. I remember I could eat a whole apple. That was the greatest thing. When I was on the plane, they gave me a whole apple, and it was green. I'd never seen green apples, and I saved it. I told my mom as soon as I arrived at the airport, "Look what they gave me on the plane. They have green apples." And my mom and my cousin back there took me to a supermarket. The first thing from the airport, we went to a supermarket, and I saw a mountain full of green apples. I was like, "Wow!"...

The summer of 1983, that was the year that you got a full-time job. Tell me about that.

... On that summer, before starting my junior year, I got a job with this friend of my mom on this plant shop at a flea market in Miami. ... So I went every Saturday and Sunday to this flea market. I'm not sure if it was Saturday or Sunday, but one of those days I was working there. And I still remember this little boy coming up to me and asking me what was my name. He was about 5 years old.

I was about 14 or 15. But the little boy came to me and said, "Hi, how are you, what is your name?" And I tell him my name. "Oh, my name is Ileana," and I said, "What is your name?" "Oh, my name is Noel." And I asked him, "Where are your parents," because he was there alone, and he said, "No, I don't have a mother. I am with my dad." And I said, "Oh, but I think you shouldn't be here alone." "Oh, no, he's right here."

Then this man approached me and said, "Hi, how are you, is the boy bothering you?" And I said, "No, he's not bothering me at all, he's just here, talking." I was asking him if he was with somebody. And he said, "Oh, what did he tell you?" I said, "No, he just said that he didn't have a mother." "Oh, yes, well, he's a very sad kid because I just got divorced."

And so he started the conversation. "We just got divorced and we live alone. He doesn't have anybody to go to the park with or whatever." And I was like, "Oh, well." I mean, I was only 15. I was all, "What do you want me to say or do?" And the little boy is like, "Would you take me to a park sometimes?" And I said, "Yes, I would. I don't see why not." ...

[Frank] gave me his phone number. I remember I put it in my bag, in my blue jeans. The days just went by. I went back home. Back home there was a lot of problems with my stepfather, who was not nice to my sister and me. So a week went by, I think. I'm not sure. And one day I had a time -- it was one of those days that I wanted to just go away and get out of the house.

They used to tell me that those were the children's stories, and my story had to match the children's story.

Then I remembered that little boy, and I said, "Well, that's something that I can [do]. I can take that little boy to the park. So I called Frank Fuster and I said, "Well, you remember me, my name is Ileana from the flea market?" "Oh, yeah, I remember you. How are you?" "I'm fine." "I was calling to see if I can take Noel to the park tomorrow, because I can do it on that day." And he said, "Oh yeah, that's great. Can I meet you at downtown at" -- I think it was one o'clock. I'm not sure. And I said, "Fine."

So the next day came, I had to take two buses from where I lived in Miami. I went to downtown Miami and I met him at a certain place there on the street right in the heart of downtown. I'll never forget that. And so I remember he pulled his car and he honked his horn and I thought it was him. I got into that car and I said, "Where is Noel?" Noel wasn't there. ...

So he said, "Well, we have to go and pick him up, because he's not here, and I'm coming from work and I couldn't pick him up first. It was kind of far." So I said, "Okay, fine." So we went, and it was a long ways. And we went into this really nice housing area. It was Country Walk. It was really nice. The homes were incredible. I used to live like in real dumps in Miami. My mother couldn't pay to live in a great, great house. And I was like, "Wow, you know, I've never seen this part of Miami, really." And we went in, we parked, and I stayed in the car. He said, "Well, why don't you come out? I mean, we're going to go and pick up Noel."

So, I got out, went in. ... The door was open, we went in, and, you know, one of the hardest things is that -- and Frank knows this -- is he took advantage of me that afternoon. Noel was not there. And I was like, in our country I was a virgin. The least thing I was thinking -- especially at that age -- was sex. I did not even dress like a 15-year-old or anything, like they do now, you know?

So, to me, it was a bad experience. It was a really, really bad experience. And ever since that moment my life has changed.

Let's go back to when you first saw Frank Fuster. What did you see? Describe him for us. Was he a handsome man? Was he polite?

He was very polite. He was. He seemed to be like a caring man, you know, with his son living with him, I thought. He seemed older than me. But he seemed a really nice man, you know, very sociable and talkative. I mean, that was the first impression that I had. ...

Did you ever end up seeing Noel that day?

Yes, I did.

You did?

Yes, I did. I'm sure it wasn't that day. I saw him afterwards. I saw him again, I think a day or two days after. I'm not sure, because I'm telling you, from that time, the next thing I know is I was marrying Frank -- August, September -- two months later; less than two months later.

Did Frank propose marriage? Did he ask you to marry him?

... He did ask my mom to get married with me. Way deep down, I didn't want to, but I know what had happened. I don't know how to explain you that I had to marry him. I felt like that. And yes, I was 15 years old, and I was like, "Wow," you know? I mean, I'm going to get married, I'm going to live in this big house. And that goes to your head. ...

How was it that you came to do babysitting in the home?

Just money problems. He started saying that he didn't have enough money to pay the rent, and he needed me to work. What could I do, you know? I was a 10th grader, 15 years old. I never worked before. So he said, "Well, maybe you could take care of children from the area while you're here, and then you can make some money."

And I accepted it. I like kids very much, and I enjoy them. And I was like, "OK." I mean, what could I say? He said, "OK, I'm going to put up an ad on the Country Walk newsletter that you will be taking care of kids and a phone number." So he put that ad up and he took care of that, and then people started calling. He used to take their calls, and he'll tell them, "Yes, it is my wife who's here and she'll take care of kids for" -- I don't remember -- "$5 an hour," or something like that.

I started receiving people from the same community. Started meeting people, you know. And they came. Sometimes, a week there would be five kids, different kids in one week. Some of them came three days in a row. Some of them came only once a week.

And how would it be? These kid would come and you would do what? Would you play videos for them? Would you play games with them?

No, the kids will come and usually they'll bring their lunch and they will bring their little toys. So I remember, next to the kitchen, there was like a family room, and they will stay there. I had like two little tables. And we would paint from books, paint books. That's it. I mean, I would play with them. I would put them to sleep when they had to go to bed.

And did you enjoy this?

Oh, yes, I did, I did. It was tiring because I was not used to it, you know? I remember the days when they drag on. I was not used to it.

But did the kids get along with you?

Oh, yes. All of them. I never had any problems whatsoever. And then their parents will come and pick them up at the time that they said and they'll go off.

The parents seemed to like you?

Oh, yes, oh, yes. I never had any problem with any of them. ...

Did you have to have a license?

He had a license. He had gotten a license. I didn't know anything about the paperwork or what was going on. All I did is I took care of the kids. ...

So put yourself in that moment and tell me, what was the first sign? How did you know that something was about to go wrong? What happened?

I remember one day I walk out of the house. I was with Frank and Noel and we were going to the neighbor for something. I remember one of the parents driving by in his car. I'll never forget this. I wave at him really happily, and he looked at me in a very weird way, and I thought, "Oh my God, did I do something wrong?" You know, like what's wrong with this guy? Maybe he's upset. But he just was driving very slow, his car. And we were working, I was waving, and he didn't wave back. He just gave me this very mean look.

But I didn't pay attention to it. It's like maybe he had a bad day or whatever. I'm not sure when -- oh, we had a visit, that's what it was. We had a visit from one of those social workers from HRS; I'll never forget this. A really nice lady came in and asked some questions. I didn't understand what was going on. I'm like, you know, "What is going on?" And I'll ask Frank, "What is going on here, why are they coming and asking questions and whatever?"

And that's when everything started. Before I knew it, like, the following week, he got arrested. ...

When Frank gets arrested and you are told what the charges are -- abusing children -- what was your reaction?

Oh, I couldn't believe it. I was, like, that is not true. And that's when I find out that he had been previously convicted of similar charges. And I was like, "Oh, my God," you know? That cannot be, because I was in the house all the time, and nothing really happened. He told me that he was wrongfully accused before then and explained to me. But I could not believe. I said, "Well, you don't have to worry about a thing, because I've been there and that's not true. That hasn't happened."

I've never done those things before. And to my surprise, his lawyer tells me that "You know, you're probably going to get arrested too." And I'm like, "Why am I going to get arrested for? I haven't done anything wrong. Nothing has happened." ... So I got very uneasy, scared. You know, my mother back then was like, "Oh, my God," uneasy, scared. She had no papers; I had no papers. OK? I was like, "Oh, my God, what is going on?"

The lawyer tells me I have to go to court. I have a warrant arrest and I have to go to court in front of the judge. I went, and I got arrested right there in the courtroom. And if I knew it, I had like 100 people surrounding me and I didn't know what was going on. I honestly tell you it was a nightmare. It was a nightmare from the time I made that phone call to take this little boy to a park and then 10 months later I am arrested of this horrendous charges. Even back then being a teenager, it was horrendous. So ever since then, I was in jail.

I guess this would have been your arraignment. They arrested you and took you where?

They took me to a jail in Miami. They put me in a small cell from that time on by myself. ...

At this point, so Frank and you now have both been arrested? You're both faced with these charges that you are denying at the time, saying, "No, I did not do this."

Right.

And you were also saying Frank didn't do this?

Right. Yes, because they would ask me. They took me to the jail. It was such a slow time. Days went by so slow. I didn't know what was going on. All I heard is, you know, "You are a child molester. You are this and that." ...

So I remember I started getting depressed. I didn't want to eat. I didn't know what was going on and I didn't know why I was there, why they didn't let me go. ...

Over the course of this time, people -- investigators, your attorneys, prosecutors -- would come in and ask you to tell them what happened. What was that like? What would happen when they could come to interview you?

Then there was another lawyer. Von Zamft came into the picture. I had investigators come in and see me to ask me the same question. "What happened? What's the truth?" And my answer was always the same one. "No, nothing happened. I mean, that is not true." "Oh, but the children are saying that this happened, and children don't lie." And I said, "But that is impossible, because that did not happen. I mean, why do you want me to say something happened when it didn't happen?"

So my lawyer kept asking and then he kept saying, "If you don't help yourself, how do you want me to help you? You've got to tell me the truth." I said, "I'm telling you the truth."

Tell me about this lawyer, Von Zamft. What kind of guy was he? What did he look like? What did he seem like? Was he a serious person? Was he friendly? Was he concerned?

He was a serious person. But he seemed like he wanted to help me. He would tell me, "I want to help you, and the best way to help you is you've got to let me guide you. You obviously don't know the kind of trouble that you are in." And maybe he was right. You know, maybe he was right, because in my mind, I knew I was innocent. I am like, "I am innocent, and I know that the judge is going to believe me". That is what it seemed. As incredible as it might sound, that's what I used to think.

Did your lawyer believe you?

Yes, he did. He said he did, "Because," he said, "Otherwise I wouldn't be here." And I said, "Why don't you tell the judge?" I used to say that. "Why don't you tell the judge that I'm innocent? Why are they keeping me here? I mean, I'm not a criminal. I've never done these things. I've never hurt anyone." And he'd say, "Oh, because obviously something happened, because the kids are saying. And maybe you just don't know it yet." That's when I started like, "What do you mean I don't know it yet?" "Maybe you have a psychological problem. You need help."

Then I started -- I mean, investigators used to come and see from the state a lot. Then I was getting depressed, because time was going by and I was still there and I was feeling helpless. Then they started getting rough with me.

Rough how?

They were no longer coming to ask questions. They would pull me out of my cell in the middle of the night and take me out to restaurants.

Who would do this?

State investigators. You know, I still remember one of them. It was a lady. And I remember her name, I'll never forget her name.

What was her name?

Her last name was Arroyo, Arroyo, because she spoke Spanish. I can vividly remember her, because she was the one like in charge of me or something, because she would take me out. She would tell me all the awful things that will happen to me if I didn't tell them the truth.

Like what? What would she say?

She would say, like, "You're going to spend the rest of your life in that little cell." Or, "You're probably going to get killed if they put you with somebody else, because that happens." And I would say, "But I am innocent." And they'd say, "Well, it doesn't matter." And I'm like, "Why does not matter? I am innocent." Then they will change the conversation and they will talk about something else, about the weather, about the food, about what I like. And I'm like, "Why am I in this restaurant? Why can't you just let me go if you believe in me?" "No, because we want to show you what you're going to miss. You're not going to see this again."...

What was your cell like? Were you there alone?

I was there alone in a very small cell with a bed and a toilet. But the thing is that they would switch me from cell to cell. There was this other cell -- I'll never forget. It was called 3A1. I never forget that, because most of the people that were there, it was like a big room with little cells next to each other. And most of the people -- well, all the people that were there were suicide or suicide watch or they were crazy. Everybody was naked.

Naked?

Yes.

You were naked?

I was naked. Yes.

For how long?

They switched me back and forth. They keep me there for a week. I lost track of time.

So you would go into this cell 3A1. They would have you strip first?

They had me there for a long time.

And you would spend hours, days -- what?

Days.

In the cell alone, naked?

Alone, naked, cold. That's when I began to feel they were getting hard on me. They would give me cold showers. Two people will hold me, run me under cold water, and then throw me back in the cell naked with nothing, just a bare floor. And I used to be cold, real cold. I would have my periods and they would just wash me and throw me back in the cell. And they would tell me if I don't do what they say, that was going to be my life for the rest of my life.

I started breaking down, crying, depressed. They started giving me medications every night to sleep. They were very, very strong. They were these very little green pills. ...

Who was Dr. Michael Rappaport? And there was also a woman named Merry Sue Haber. Who were they?

They were psychiatrists that work for Mr. Von Zamft. And they were there to help me.

They were there to help you. Is that how Mr. Von Zamft--

"Help me remember," that's what Mr. Von Zamft said. "To help me remember." I said, "Remember what?" I remember them telling me, "Ileana, you have a real bad psychological problem. You [can't remember] something that happened to you." And I'll be like, "No, nothing has happened to me." "Yes, it has."

Then all these suicide watch cells would increase, and I would see them a lot. And they will tell me the stories the children were saying.

What sort of stories? What were they wanting you to acknowledge?

They were telling me about the children's saying that we used to play games with them, that I would take their clothes off, or Frank. I said, "Well, that didn't happen." They say, "No, but the children say it, that means it's true. And if it's true, that means something is wrong with your mind. You probably blocked it off. You know, who knows what happened to you in that house?" ...

They would tell me this story and, "Do you remember?" I'd say, "No." They would make me repeat and repeat it. They would tell me over and over on tapes the stories of what would happen. "And people out there don't like you." And this and that. And it was like, "But, that cannot be true."...

After a while, I was dreaming this stuff. I was having bad dreams about the things they were telling me. So they would ask me, "Did you have a dream? Did you have a dream last night?" And I'd be, "Yes, I did." "What did you dream?" "Well, you know, you were right, I'd dream this and that."

And they would say, "You see, you remember through your dreams. And you have to tell the court." They made me lie on stand. I took a lie detector test. And I don't know if I passed them or not, but I was trying to tell the truth, and they were getting me confused. ...

Did [the prosecutors] ever come visit you in jail?

Then I started getting visits from Janet Reno.

From Janet Reno herself?

Yes, herself. She used to come to see me to the jail. But at nights.

Tell me about those visits. Tell me about what those visits were like.

The first visit I got, I didn't really know who she was. And Dr. Rappaport would tell me the next day. Because first visit, she was like, "Hi, how are you? I'm Janet Reno, the State Attorney." And I would tell her, "I am innocent." And she said, "I'm sorry, but you are not. You're going to have to help us." ...

I'd been in jail already a year or so; I'm not sure. I wanted her to help me. But I was afraid of her after she told me -- she was very clear -- if I didn't help, she was going to make sure I was never going to get out of there.

And you got other visits from her?

Yes.

Several, two, three [visits]? A bunch?

Several.

And what were these subsequent visits like, Ileana?

To remind me I was going to be there for the rest of my life if I didn't help them. ...

And you finally decided that you would say these things they wanted you to say?

I was starting to dream about them, and I started doubting my own self. You know, did this really happen, or it didn't? Am I going to spend the rest of my life in prison? What is going on? I was so confused, and for many years after that. You have no idea of the life I've lived trying to find my own self.

I can imagine, Ileana. At one point, you were asked to sort of officially make this statement, a deposition. Do you remember that deposition?

Kind of.

Where was it? Was it in the jail, or was it down at the prosecutor's office?

I think it was in the prosecutor's office.

Do you remember who was there? Was Janet Reno there?

She was there. ...

And you were how old when this was happening to you -- just 15, 16 years old?

Sixteen.

Sixteen years old. They now have you giving your sworn testimony in a deposition. The state's attorney is there, sitting next to you, I guess, right?

I think. She always gave me the look or a touch. ...

What do you mean "a touch?"

Like comfort, but it was not comfort. Always reminding me she was there. Even today. I am afraid of her.

You give this deposition. What was it that you told them? Do you remember?

They asked me so many questions. But I know this was previous to my live testimony from the jury.

In the deposition, do you remember that you said at their urging that Frank raped you?

Yes.

That he had put a crucifix up your rectum?

Yes.

He put a gun in your vagina?

Yes.

Put snakes on you and in you?

Mmm hmm.

He poured acid on you in the shower?

Are you asking me, or if I said that?

If you said this.

Yes, I said that.

That he had forced you, or caused you to have oral sex with the children you were caring for?

Yes.

That you had participated in oral sex, or watched Noel, his son, perform oral sex?

Yes.

That he had hung you by your wrists in the garage -- you told them that?

Mmm hmm.

Ileana, were these things true?

No, they were not. Those were the things that Dr. Rappaport and Dr. Haber made me remember through my dreams. They would tell me the stories.

Where did they get this information?

I don't know. They used to tell me that those were the children's stories, and my story had to match the children's story. If not, then it wasn't good for them.

So these things which you admitted to in a deposition were, as far as you know, specific things that they had been asking you about?

Right.

And you decided finally to give them because you thought it might even be true?

... I was paranoid. I was horrified about my nightmares, so I had to tell them my nightmares.

When you went into court, and stood before the judge, and entered your plea, what you said, "I'm pleading guilty" -- even then, you said you didn't feel guilty.

Yes, because I didn't have memory of those things. Because I knew I didn't do those things. But all I had was my nightmares. And they told me that, in order to end the pain to the parents and the children, I had to end it. I had to plead guilty, help the state, and that way I would give back to them some comfort, like at least to end it. ...

Ileana, there was a technique you have described -- you didn't describe it this way -- but professionally, it was called visualization. Dr. Rappaport and Merry Sue Haber employed it, I think, when they would come visit you. Tell me what it is they would say and what it is they would have you do in this regard when they came to visit.

Since they had all the stories from the children and I didn't remember, they will make me close my eyes and just they will tell me the story. They would tell me the story. Then in my mind, I have to go step by step the way how they were telling me the story. I had to imagine that that was happening. And I did. I don't know how to explain this to you.

They would ask you to close your eyes and they would tell you a scenario.

Right. And then once you're in that scenario, you supposed to repeat the story they tell me. "Yes, I am in that room." If I made a mistake, then they would correct me: "The room is not pink; it's red." They would tell me the name of the children. I couldn't remember all of them, so they would correct me again. And we would do this over and over until I got the memory piece that supposedly was missing.

Would any of these scenarios be the images that would come to you in your dreams?

That's exactly what I was dreaming. ...

And these accusations that you forwarded in your deposition -- did they do this visualization technique with these things?

With each one of them.

Frank raping you, the crucifix, the gun in the vagina, the snake.

Yes, all of them. ...

Going into [Frank's] trial, you're now the star witness. They're referring to you as the star witness. ... Did you know what you were going to say when you went into court that day?

Oh, they rehearsed me.

They rehearsed you?

Yes. They asked me the questions. They told me, "The other lawyer probably will ask you this or that." I was very scared that day. ...

Do you remember at one point you begin to give your testimony and you testify that you remember seeing Frank [kicking] Todd's body, you remember him sucking his penis, you said. And at this point, Frank, who was in the room, stood up and screamed. Do you remember that?

Yes, I remember.

What happened? Describe it to me.

I got scared.

What did Frank do?

He yelled at me, "Liar!" Something like that. I remember, I remember that part. And I got scared, because of the way that he jumped and screamed. And then I was already scared because John Hogan was there, Mr. Von Zamft was there, Janet Reno was there. And I had like 100 cameras in front of me. I was like a little animal in this cage where everybody is trying to poke in, and I was just running around in this little cage. That's how I felt. That's the best way I can describe that day. That's how I was that day.

And then they took me into a room and decide. And again, you know, Mr. Von Zamft shook my shoulders and told me, "You've got to go back there and you've got to finish what you began. Remember your sentencing has not yet taken place."

In other words, you still might spend many years in prison if you don't do this the right way?

Right, exactly. So how do you think I felt?

What was it like walking into that courtroom and seeing Frank?

I was afraid.

Did you feel at all like you were betraying him?

photo of ileana in court

No. I was feeling all kinds of things because -- did he do those things to me? Remember, all those things that I testified, I lived them in my mind. ... And that's why I'm angry today, because they made me go through that, you know, without doing it. You know what I mean?

Yes. You had the experience without having had the experience.

I experienced it. Whether I physically experienced it, I did in my mind. ...

You were sentenced to prison?

I got 10 years and 10 years probation. And I ended up to a youthful offender program for three years out of the 10. ...

And you got out after three years, I guess, because of good behavior?

Right. I was a model inmate in there. I had the best grades. I help a lot of other people inside. ...

You knew that when you would be released, you would go straight back to Honduras?

Right, right.

Ileana, was it in this time, was it after you got back to Honduras, when was it that you began to doubt--

What had happened to me?

What you testified to -- began to doubt that these stories were true?

When I went back, instantly my dad was in real bad health and he died the first year I got back. I enrolled in college over there and I wanted just to forget about all of this and keep going with my life. But I kept having those dreams, you know? And I didn't have the memory. I would say like almost three years later, I started questioning myself and asking myself. But then I said, I mean, I didn't have any professional help over there. I wasn't talking to anybody about this case -- nobody. ...

Who did help you? There was a church group, wasn't there? Reverend Tommy Watson?

Yes. He helped me a lot from the time I was in jail along with Shirley Blando [the prison chaplain].

Helped you how?

Moral support, giving me a lot of love, understanding. ...

Did they help you go to school?

Yes, they did.

How?

They paid for my room and board and my education.

Were they a rich church?

I'm not sure. I think yes, a couple of people got money every month, put it together, and sent me $300 a month.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Frank Fuster manages to get a lawyer, Arthur Cohen, to take his case up. The lawyer goes through the stuff. He comes to believe that you testified falsely -- not intentionally, perhaps, but falsely. Arthur Cohen is determined to come to Honduras and get your story. He and your mother arrive in Honduras; they meet you, I believe at a hotel.

Right.

He turns on a tape recorder, and you begin to tell him your memory of what you call the true version of it. What did you tell him, in essence? Do you remember?

I think what I'm telling you now today.

You told him about being fed memories and all of that, the nighttime visits?

Not exactly that. But I didn't understand why I don't have memories. I mean, I know that that didn't happen. I know I didn't do anything. I know that Frank Fuster didn't do anything. Yet I have nightmares of my testimony. ...

You declare to Arthur Cohen that these things didn't happen. And in fact, you basically recant your testimony, testimony that was key to sending Frank Fuster to prison forever, the rest of his life. And what happened after you recanted? What happened next?

Well, I think Mr. Cohen came back here with my statement or whatever; they find out, I get a phone call. I mean, Mr. Watson is concerned because I'd done that. The state attorney, I think, got in touch with him.

You mean Janet Reno's office?

Right, right. And they were upset because I was now saying these things and I was not supposed to talk to anybody. "You're going to ruin your life. You know, the reason why we were helping you is because you helped the children and those parents, and now because of you, they're going to bring back those poor children and those parents." And I was like, "No," but I said, "You know what? That is the truth. I would think, why don't you guys want me to get help, because that is the truth?" And they said, "No, it's best to leave things the way they are." And I was afraid I was going to lose my -- I had another year left in college, and I couldn't pay for it.

What did Rev. Watson want you to do?

He brought with him a statement the district attorney's office had given him for me to sign, and he needed to fly back right away and give it to them.

What did the statement say?

That these people have come down to Honduras to bother me and they have made me confused and say things. I did not even read it, to tell you the truth.

But it was recanting, basically, your recantation?

Right. ...

The statement that you signed, in essence, here's what it says: "March 18, 1995. To Whom it May Concern: Lawyers were able to find me and walk in unannounced into my life. They told me that new evidence will clear my name and criminal record. The more I listened, the more confused I became. I got into a deep depression. Mr. Cohen started asking questions one after another. I didn't know it was a deposition," et cetera.

"Now that I've 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 ten 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 don't want to be a victim anymore and I wish his attorneys to leave me alone, please. Signed Ileana Flores, witness Tommy Watson."

You did sign this. Is this true? Is it true that Frank Fuster is guilty, not only of hurting children, et cetera? Is it true that your testimony in court should remain as given what was then ten years ago?

No, sir. I was under a lot of pressure when they came down to Honduras to make me sign this. Apparently my testimony was going to 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 a cell.

So you felt threatened?

Oh, yes. They talked about extradition. They talk about a lot of things. And I was just finishing college.

Was anyone with Tommy Watson?

No.

Why would he say that to you?

I don't know. He said because he care about me; he wanted the best for me.

And Rev. Watson and his church had been very supportive. They'd helped get you out of the U.S. and back down to Honduras, get you settled there, they got you into college. They were supporting you while you were down there?

Right.

So did you feel obligated to them?

Yes. I still do. ...

You are here today telling us this story because we chased you down? Or did you contact us through a lawyer?

I contacted you through a lawyer.

So are you here voluntarily?

Yes, I am. ...

Let me ask you, Ileana, now, today, as you sit here with me, these questions. The testimony that you gave in the trial of Frank Fuster -- was that truthful testimony?

It was at the time, because I believed my memory blacked out.

But did those things to which you testified actually occur?

No, they didn't.

Frank Fuster -- aside from how you feel about him as a husband or as a man -- was he guilty of the things that he was accused of and convicted and is serving prison time for?

No, he's not guilty, sir.

Did he do these things? Did you witness any of these acts of which he was accused, those children you all brought into your home?

I never witnessed it.

Did any of this nightmarish scenario that came to be known as the Country Walk child abuse case -- did any of this happen?

No, sir. None of that happened. ... I never hurt any children specifically or anybody. Country Walk just didn't happen. ...

So as you sit here with me today, what you're doing is recanting your testimony that you gave against Frank Fuster.

Right, I am.

Are you afraid of Frank Fuster?

Yes. I'm afraid of everybody. I'm afraid of the police, Janet Reno, Mr. Hogan. I'm afraid of the city of Miami. I don't know what to tell you. This is the truth, you know? I need to tell it because I need somebody to hear me.

Ileana, what do you have to gain from telling the truth, from telling us this?

I think I have nothing to lose. But I can gain help which I need. I can clear my name. I want to get my life back, you know?

Are you doing this partly to keep your U.S. citizenship?

That's partly -- yes, sir.

How would this help?

Because by clearing my name, I will have a right to keep my citizenship.

What if that means letting Frank Fuster out of prison?

I've thought about that, and he's not guilty of those things, so he should be out of prison.

Have you been in contact with Frank at all?

No, sir, never.

His family?

Never.

There are people watching this, hearing this story, this young girl who marries this guy and moves into Country Walk and gets involved in this incredible case, who denied it that she'd any knowledge of any of this happening, who denied in fact that it happened, who then went into court and said under oath that this stuff did happen, who subsequent to that said no, it didn't, and then you retracted your retraction. And now here you are telling us one more time that none of this happened.

Tell me, why should anyone believe what they're hearing from you now? Why should they believe you, Ileana?

Well, when Mr. Watson went down there to Honduras the first time to get that statement, that's one of the things that he said. "Just sign this and don't worry. With this, the state doesn't have to worry, because with that, they would destroy your credibility." And I guess that is a chance that I'm taking today.

But this is the truth, and that's why I'm here -- to tell it. And I'm willing to go to whatever extremes I have to go. I'm willing to talk to whomever I have to talk. Obviously, my testimony during his trial, it was a consequence of what I went through in the jail. And I've come to understand that, you know? I'm willing to fight for justice and for the truth. And this is the truth. ...

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