the child terror
Interview: Harold Grant Snowden
see below for text
Grant SnowdenHarold Grant Snowden is a former South Miami police officer of the year who was accused in two trials in 1985 and 1986 of sexually molesting children baby-sat by his wife.  He was convicted in the second trial and sentenced to 50 years in a maximum security prison.  Snowden was released in April of 1998 when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed his conviction.

Names of all children and their families have been changed.

I want to begin close to the beginning, which is to ask how it was you came to be a cop.

Well, back in the late 60s ... I went through all of their exams and went through some of their physical agility tests. I was turned down because I was too short. They had certain requirements back at that time, which required you to be 5'9" ... and I'm only 5'7". I was turned down because of that ... so I just forgot about it for a while and kind of was content with different jobs until later on in years. ... and then about 1981 me and my wife were in my living room watching TV, a commercial came on--Dade County Florida was soliciting for law enforcement officers. I looked over to my wife and I told her that I was going to reapply at some different department to see if I could get selected again. That is when I started putting in applications again. I was selected by the City of Homestead who put me through the academy. That was 1981.

How old were you by this point?

35, I was the oldest person in my academy class.

So the City of Homestead put you through the academy and you graduate to become a 35-year-old rookie.

Happy to be a cop. I was a happy cop. It was very, very rewarding to have the city of Homestead accept me ... I loved the job and it seemed like each day it was becoming more as to what I should be doing.

You were cited Cop of the Month a couple of times, and even Cop of the Year.

No way were they going to allow me to walk. The press, the prosecutors, public opinion...It just seemed like the children were coming out of the woodwork, the families were coming out of the woodwork. There was a total fishing expedition, a witch hunt, just a no win situation.When I was with the city of Homestead, (I only stayed with them eleven months) I got an average of one letter a month from the community--letters of appreciation, letters of merit, of some form or another. But my real rewards didn't really come until I became an officer with the City of South Miami. Once I moved to that department things just started flowing better and better for me. I don't know why that is; it just seemed to be that way. And from about '82 to somewhere in the beginning of '84, I was nominated nine times Officer of the Month and I received that award six times. I was nominated Police Officer of the Month of June, 1983 by the Police Benevolent Association throughout all of the precincts in Dade County, which are quite a few. That was very, very rewarding. I really appreciated that award.

In 1983 I was nominated Police Officer of the Year for the City of South Miami and that was my highest accomplishment of all. And it came in such a short period of time, that is what everybody was so amazed about. In fact, it was even talked about [that] I was the highest decorated police officer in the City of South Miami in the shortest period of time....

So for four years you were a functioning working in-service police officer? Highly satisfied with your work and, in fact, rewarded and commended by your peers and by the community. What happened? What changed it?

In 1984 I was accused of a crime and the crime was serious enough to be suspended from the force. Accusations of child abuse.

Out of the clear blue one day?

Out of the clear blue sky. I never knew it was coming.... My wife ran a small baby sitting service in our home....

At that moment what was going on in the world? Were you aware of this growing concern, particularly here in South Florida, Miami area, about ritual child abuse in day care centers and all of that?

Yes ... I wasn't following it that much, but I was aware of it. I knew there was some paranoia going on in Dade County because of it, but it just never occurred to me that I would fall into this paranoia. It is just something that you don't think about until it hits home. And when it hit home this time it hit hard.

You were being reviewed by your department, Internal Affairs was looking over the case, you were back on duty reinstated and you get a call that your boy has been in an accident? He is in the hospital?

Right. Very bad. Several broken bones, numerous lacerations, unconscious. He had to be cut out of the truck by the fire department....

And it is while visiting your son that you get a call from The Miami Herald?

One evening ... The Miami Herald calls the hospital room. It didn't even register right away that this was a reporter ... he started talking about the allegations. I am listening to him, but I'm not absorbing what he is saying, because I'm not believing what he is saying. And then finally it started sinking in and I got very angry about him calling that hospital room and bringing up these accusations.

I hung up the phone on him and went home. They started calling my home and I got on the phone with them and I kept accusing him of just wanting to get his name in the paper. He wants to write a story just to get his name in the paper regardless of how devastating or whose life he ruins ... I told him at that point, I said "You will have to talk to my attorney." And I gave him my attorney's phone number. I hung up the phone and they didn't bother me anymore. They called my attorney.

The next day there was a tremendous article in The Miami Herald accusing me of sexual child abuse. And because of this, my department suspended me again and when they suspended me this time I never went back....

What about the parents of the other children? Did they all stop sending their kids to your home?

No, that is another thing ... my wife had baby-sat for nearly 15 years. Hundreds of children came through my home. And when this article hit The Miami Herald, people that she hadn't seen in quite a while were calling the house, people were coming by showing their support. [They] just couldn't believe that these accusations were about me. They were very supportive ... because they know that the way the children have always been kept in my home.

After it hit The Miami Herald, my attorney wanted to get some of the parents to come forward as character witnesses, even though I hadn't been charged with anything. He was trying to get something started just in case the State Attorney's office did pull some type of surprise. So he wanted to see if we could get some of the parents to come over to the house and he would bring a court reporter to my home and take depositions of these parents as showing their support for me.

So my wife contacted some of the mothers and there were a couple of them that did come over. And my attorney came there with a court reporter and these two mothers that came over couldn't do anything but praise me and praise my wife about the way that their children were being kept in the home. They said that they had talked to their children and their children didn't say anything that would show that any harm had come to them while they were being baby-sat at my home.

And eventually you were charged?

Yes. Eventually I was charged.

And a trial date was set. Were you out during your trial, were you out on bond? How did that work?

Well, when they finally charged me I was in my son's hospital room. My attorney called the hospital room and he said they have a warrant for your arrest. One of the mothers, who came to my home and gave a sworn deposition that nothing had ever happened to her child, was one of the ones they got the warrant off of. An 11-year-old girl who they said was being baby-sat at my home in 1977, this was seven years prior. They said that this little girl was saying that I molested her. She is 11 years old now. That is the one they got the warrant on.

So I asked my attorney, "Do you want me to turn myself in?" He said, "No." He said, "I want you to go and hide." I go, "You want me to hide?" He said, "Yes, I want you to hide for one day. Do you think you can hide for one day?" I said, "Sure, I can hide for more than one day. If I want to they will never find me."

So I went to a friend of mine's home and I stayed overnight and the next day my attorney met me. We went to a polygraph examiner's business, his name was George Slattery. He had been a polygraph examiner for 20 years working for the state ... I went to this office and he hooked me up or wired me up for five and a half hours. He asked me every question that you could ever imagine and I came through it with flying colors telling the truth. He said that he wanted to make sure, because he has six children of his own, that I was telling the truth. That is why he put me through it like he did.

When The Miami Herald story broke, they put you back on suspension?

Yes.

You hadn't been fired or terminated at the point you were charged?

No. I was suspended pending the outcome of this investigation or the outcome of the results of the State Attorney's investigation. Whether or not the department still had an ongoing investigation, internal affairs; they never came to me and told me one way or the other.

In retrospect did The Miami Herald story inspire the new investigation by the State Attorney? Or did the state's attorney's interest inspire The Miami Herald story?

I don't know who called The Miami Herald, but I believe that the pressure of the media going to the State Attorney's office is why they picked it up and opened the investigation again.

Did you and your wife ever have a talk where she said to you "Grant, I believe I know you and I certainly believe you. But tell me the truth. Was there ever any incident?"

No one in my family ever doubted when I denied these accusations, no one ever doubted my word. No one ever confronted me and said, "Did you do this?" because they believe me. They know me. This wasn't me. This monster they were making of me wasn't me. Children were treated with utmost respect in my home. They even called me, "dad", they called my wife, "mother". They used to tell their parents "We have two mommies and two daddies." These children would cry when their parents come to pick them up. They didn't want to leave my home. And when they were at their own home they would tell their parents "We want to go to Grant and Janice's house." In fact one little girl was packing a bag, she wanted to live at my house. That's how well they were treated at my home. No harm.

When you were finally charged on the allegations for which you were put on trial, what were the specific charges?

They charged me with four counts sexual battery on a child under the age of 11 years old.

What was the nature of the battery?

I may be wrong on this, [if] my memory serves me correctly, they said that I penetrated her vagina with my finger, I penetrated her buttocks with my finger, I put my penis in her mouth and I put my penis in her vagina. Those were the four counts.

How did you feel about those allegations?

Well, it's really, really hard to describe. I went into a state of shock. It was very scary. It is something that you just never expect would happen. The way these children were treated and then all of a sudden you are a monster of the children, [it] is hard to accept.

You do agree that those acts, if committed by an adult entrusted with the care of these children, would have been monstrous deed.

I agree with that. I agree as if I would have done those things, then I would be a sick person to start with. I would probably need some medical attention. Yes, it would be a monstrous thing to do that to a child four years old ...

You hid for a day, turned yourself in after the polygraph test. You were fingerprinted, were you mugged?

... My family and myself went to the court house ... the State Attorney and a Dade County officer, a woman came there to arrest me. My wife was there. And the police officer took her handcuffs out and handed them to me. She says, "Put them on." I said, "No, I'm not going to put them on. You put them on me." The girl took the handcuffs from me and started crying as she was fastening these handcuffs on me. She knew that I didn't commit this crime and she knew that she was doing the wrong thing by handcuffing me.

The prosecutor is there, Howard Pohl, deputy of the State Attorney.

He was the Assistant State Attorney to Janet Reno.

What did he do? What was his role there?

He didn't do anything; he just stood there. He didn't say anything, didn't do anything, he just stood there and watched while this police officer put these handcuffs on me. He never said a word ... they wanted me to go to the elevator, go down by myself, go across the lobby, get into this car. I believe they wanted me to go alone because it would be less of a chance of some attention. Me and my wife said "good-bye" and I went and got into the elevator and went downstairs ... there were other reporters downstairs, they obviously, in my opinion, were aware that I was there. They started chasing me with a TV camera. So I kind of speeded up a little bit and I went on out the door and I jumped in the car. Another officer in the car threw the seat back and slammed the door and we took off.

Dade County Jail is just around the corner from where I was. He radioed ahead for them to open the gate so that we could drive right in without having to stop. The reporters chased the car all the way to that gate ... they videoed through the gate as I went out of the car and went in to be processed in Dade County Jail. ... all of the time this was happening to me I kept thinking "I am supposed to be doing this. They're not supposed to be doing it to me." It's just indescribable that's all. I just didn't seem real. It just seemed like a dream. This is not really happening. I'm going to wake up. But I didn't; I didn't wake up. It was real. But it just didn't seem like it. It seemed like I was moving in slow motion.... And the longer I was there the deeper the black cloud covered my head. It was a state of shock. I believe I was in a state of shock not really realizing that this was happening. But it was happening and it was real.

Did you then, or do you now, have a view as to why it was that this prosecutor, Janet Reno, and her office seemed so determined to bring these charges against you?

My opinion of this is of the hysteria and the paranoia in Dade County at that time against people who baby-sat, day care centers, nurseries, people unlicensed to baby-sit. So many people were being accused of this crime and, of course, all of these people were denying these crimes.

Now they have a police officer and they're showing that it just doesn't happen to the average person. "We have a police officer accused of the same thing. So it must be true that all of these people that are accused of this really did it" ... I believe that if I would have been something other than what I was at that time, a highly decorated South Miami Police Officer, Police Officer of the Year, they would have never charged me with this crime. They did it because of the glamour, they did it because of the attention that they would receive, the publicity the State Attorney's office would receive. Janet Reno's stepping stone to where she's at right now. I was just probably one of the small pieces of the pie that she used to get to where she's at right now. It did not make any difference to her whether I was innocent or guilty, she had someone who was going to attract a lot of attention to her.

I proved to them that I did not commit this crime. The child that they were accusing me of never was baby-sat at my home.

And in fact you were acquitted.

I was acquitted of the crime at this first trial.

But it didn't end there?

It did not end. They were bound and determined to get a conviction for me. They used the "pile it on" syndrome to get me and there was no way that I was going to escape.

Who is the "they" led by the prosecutor?

The prosecutors led by Janet Reno.

What did they do? Did they go out looking for more victims?

Well, they found more. One of the other mothers who came to my home ... [and] gave a sworn deposition that nothing ever happened to her child ... she is another one that finally brought charges against me after the State Attorney's office and their so-called psychologists got through with them. And I was brought up on more charges and had to go through another trial.

In your view what was at work here? What changed their minds? What prompted these parents to bring their children forward as accusers?

I believe that the State Attorney's office approached these parents and assured them that these accusations were all true ... these parents, they're not professionals. The State Attorney's office, they are supposed to be professionals. And the average person who is told something by a person that is supposed to be a professional, they're going to believe it. I believe that they were brainwashed by the State Attorney's office and that's why they continued on with the charges....

As I sit here across from you, even now knowing what I know and knowing even the recent events, part of me still asks the question did this man across from me molest children? You recognize I suppose the threat that for the rest of your life people will be asking that question about you?

I know I didn't commit the crime. I can sit and tell it over and over and over again, but you have to form your own opinion. The person I'm talking to, it is his right to make his own determination. I can't force anyone to believe me. But I am saying that and I will continuously say that I did not commit these crimes, I was falsely accused.

But do you recognize that even if exoneration comes, even if you were made a free man finally and forever, on some level you have been stained by this?

Of course. This is something that will always be something that you will have to continue looking behind you at. Even today's time when I walk down a street or walk through a shopping mall, it appears to me that everyone in the mall has eyes on me. I know that's not true, but it's just the feeling.

And sure, there are going to be times down the road when people are going to probably be thinking "There goes Grant Snowden, what was he accused of?" The average person will talk like that. But the people that know me will not ever say that.

You were tried, acquitted, charged again, finally the prosecutors got their conviction.

That's true.

You were sentenced to what amounted to spending the rest of your life in prison.

It was a sentence that was put on me to never see the outside of a prison again ... the worst moment in my whole life. When they took me from the courtroom or attempted to take me from the courtroom my youngest brother, he pushed the bailiff away. He wanted to have a moment with me and he told the bailiff to give us a moment to say good-bye. Of course, that's all it was too, a moment, and I said good-bye to each one [of my] family at that point in the courtroom. But some of the security in the Dade County Jail who I had working relationship with, took my family to the jail chapel, and then they took me to the jail chapel where I could say my good-byes properly, spend more time with them ...

When you turned from them in that jail chapel and headed off to incarceration, did you believe it might be the last time you saw them on the outside?

I didn't know what to think at that time. I hadn't been sentenced at that point. I had been found guilty, but I hadn't been sentenced, so I didn't really know what this judge was going to do. I had a feeling of what the judge was going to do.

What did the judge do at your sentencing?

She gave me the maximum that I could have received ... I remember the exact words of the sentence. After I had talked with her, my mother had talked with her, other people talked with her, she says, "Mr. Snowden for count one, I sentence you to life in prison with a minimum mandatory of 25 years. For count two, I sentence you to life in prison with a minimum mandatory 25 years to run concurrent with count one. For count three, I sentence you to life in prison with a minimum mandatory 25 years to run concurrent with Count one. For count four, I sentence you to life in prison with a minimum mandatory 25 years to run consecutive with Count one."

Minimum mandatory 50 years in prison ... that would have put me eligible for parole at 90 years old and that would have been, then the possibility of walking out of prison at 89 years old, or being rolled out.

Did you have the chance to say anything to the court or to the judge?

At the time of the sentencing, yes, I said a few words to the judge. If I can remember correctly what I said, I told the judge that as many times as I came down to the courtroom while being out on bond I showed up in the courtroom each and every time that I was summoned to be here. That was an indication that I am not guilty ... I remember telling her that she was fixing to sentence an innocent man.

Let me ask you the other part of my question about this moment: You are a cop fixing to go to prison. That is a very particular circumstance that a cop experiences in prison. It had to be scary. Were you frightened?

Of course, I was scared to death. Because I didn't know anything about the prison system, I was brand new going into the prison. I, of course, knew basically about prisons being a police officer, but living in one you really don't know anything about it until you experience it somewhat. And yes, I was scared.

Did you expect as a cop you would get any special favor, were you sent off to any special institution?

No. I wasn't expecting to get any special treatment. From the corrections officers? No, I wasn't expecting to get any special favors.

You were segregated from the rest of the population though?

That was for their benefit not for my benefit ... they took me to a special cell block, which was an isolation cell block for disciplinary inmates and locked me in this cell block. And being brand new when I went into this cell I thought this was it. I thought this was where I was going to spend the rest of my life in this little cell block. Because I didn't know about being transferred to another prison ... I wasn't educated to this.

I'm looking around in the cell, there is a little stainless steel toilet and sink combination. There is a bunk, stainless steel, no springs, nothing, with a little thin mattress about an inch thick. A little stainless steel mirror hanging on the wall, not even a real mirror. And it was so hard to absorb, I just started talking to myself, "Why me? Why am I here? Why do they do this to me?" Things that just started popping into your mind. [I] just laid down on the bed there, the little bunk and put my hands up over my head and tried to sleep. They kept me in there for two weeks. In that two weeks I kept trying to get out of the compound. I didn't want to be in isolation. I didn't do anything to be in isolation, I didn't break any of their rules and that is normally why you go to isolation.

So each time an officer would come by, I would try to stop him. But at Lake Butler the officers don't care. They just keep on walking. It's very hard to get one of them to stop and talk to you. Finally I did get one to stop and I told him that I wanted to make a phone call. He said "Write a request to the chaplain if you want to make a phone call."

So I told him again I said "Look, I am not supposed to be in here. I want to go to the compound, I want to go out with the rest of the inmates. I did not break any of your rules to be placed in isolation." "No, you cannot go to the compound, they will kill you out there." I said "Why?" He said, "You're an ex-cop. Somebody out there might know you." I said, "I can take care of myself."

I told him "Look, I will sign any paper you told me to sign, a waiver showing that ... you're not being held libel if anything happens to me on the compound." So this officer told me he was going to talk to someone and see what he could do ... and he came back later and said that they were going to have a special meeting and determine whether or not I could go to the compound. And they did. They had this meeting.

Obviously you were ultimately let out into the population.

Eventually, yes.

Eventually you became just another prisoner, always a former cop though?

That is correct.

Ever specifically any difficulty by being a cop? Were you ever assaulted?

The only thing that happened to me in prison was a lot of name calling and finger pointing. No one in the 12 years I was in prison ever tried to become physical with me.

What kind of name calling?

... there were times, "There goes that baby raper." Hard to take, very hard to take. You know, after a while when you're in prison, if you don't do something or retaliate against someone who is doing something to you, then you become one who is marked and taken advantage of. But I didn't retaliate against this. It was names that I knew I was going to have to learn to give with, so I had it set in my mind that it was just a label that has been placed on me and that label is going to stay as long as I am in prison so I might as well live with it. And that's what I did.

You went in the prison knowing nothing about life on the inside. You obviously learned a great deal. Among others the first and most important lesson I guess is how to survive.

Well, my survival ... I guess it just comes natural. I acted just like one of them. I walked and talked just like a regular inmate. I didn't try to be better than any of them, I tried to let them know that I was no threat in any way to them. If they were doing something wrong, they did not have to fear me running and telling on them.

You have this thing--once a cop always a cop--and that is the way it is in prison too. I had to show them that I wasn't a cop anymore, I was an inmate just like they were. And that's what I did. I got into different programs, just like they did; different jobs, just like they did; athletic sports, just like they did. I walked around with my head up, not between my legs. I carried myself just like them; I would not let one of them or any of them back me into a corner. Once you do that then they will take advantage of you.

Did you reach a point where you thought, "This is it. I'm going to be in prison the rest of my life."

Yes, it entered my mind quite a few times. Every time you have something working in court you always have that little ray of hope. Then slowly my remedies in court started disappearing. Each time I would lose one, my hope would go down. There were quite a few times that I would be laying on my bunk thinking, "This is it. So far all the way down the line we received no relief. So when you go into a higher court, the higher court judges will see that the lower court judges have denied you any type of relief. So they are probably going to do the same thing." This is what is on my mind.

You held out a tiny bit of hope?

Well, my hope came through my family. My family stuck by me through thick and thin. They made sure that my ray of hope never went to a point where I was totally submerged to where I couldn't see the surface again. They always kept me comfortable in prison, they made sure I didn't want for anything ... they always were looking for different ways of getting me relief through different attorneys, looking for different attorneys.

Finally, after I had exhausted all of the state remedies and [was] getting ready to go into federal court, my family came up with a team that believed in me. They believed in the person and [were] not looking for financial gain or publicity.

This was at a moment just as you truly neared the end of your prospects?

It was at the end.

You were in all together for 12 years, wasn't it? In that time did you ever stop being a cop here in your heart? Were you ever in your heart and mind, did you ever stop thinking of yourself as a cop?

I don't know if I stopped or not. It's something that I never forgot. The memories were always there. A lot of times in prison you have a great deal of idle time and it becomes very boring sometimes. It seemed like the same routine as day by day by day. During this idle time, your mind begins to wander. And when my mind wandered it looked like a movie reel going through my face, going through my mind past my face.

And when this movie re-opened we would come upon things that I had accomplished as a police officer, it was like going in slow motion. And these memories might be stuck there and I was hurt extremely when this happened. Because it just seemed like this will never be again and it's something that I really enjoyed and I wanted.

Did you ever have even a moment in your despair where you questioned yourself and thought, "Was there something here I don't remember that I have blocked out? Is it possible that I did these things?"

Is it possible to have committed this crime and not remember it? No, absolutely not. How could a person do something like this and not know it unless he was just totally spaced out on some sort of medication. Even though I doubt that anyone could commit this crime without knowing it. I do not believe that.

You had been a cop. You had worn a badge and had a gun. And now you are on the other side being handled, being processed, being told to go here, go there, confined--all of the humiliations that inmates feel. Did you ever have the impulse to say to the guards, "Hey, I didn't do this thing. I want you to know this." Did you ever protest your innocence either to your keepers or to your fellow inmates?

Yes, I did. There are no secrets in prison. They know everything that goes on. There have been times when corrections officers would come up to me and we would talk. They would ask me to tell them war stories of the things I had done on the street. Then we would talk about things other than being cops and corrections officers also.

I wasn't shown favoritism, but some of the corrections officers, we could relate to one another because of the law enforcement background. I even had corrections officers ask me if I could help them get through the police academy. Tell them some of the things that went on and the easiest ways to do certain things. ...

Let me bring us to the moment then when hope is not gone, but it's getting thinner. Your various lawyers have exhausted all of your state options and you are pretty near your last chance. This new group of lawyers goes to the federal court and your fate suddenly changed. How did you hear about this?

How did I hear it? I heard about it over the phone. I was in South Bay Correctional Facility, a privately owned prison. It was February 18, and we were in the dormitory setting up tables and an officer came over the loud speaker, "Will Harold Snowden report to the officers' station?" That was kind of unusual ... I was wondering, "Why are they calling my name over the loud speaker? What did I do wrong?" Because I wasn't at that prison long enough for them to really know me. So I went to the officers station and it was a female officer and she handed me this paper towel and it had my attorney's name on it, Robert Rosenthal, phone number, call me.

Well, I knew what it was. I knew that this was the decision of my federal appeal. The reason I knew that was because myself and Robert, we had set it up that when the decision came down he would call the prison and leave me a message to call him. When I received this message, I knew what it was.

You didn't know which way it had been decided?

I did not know which way it went at that time. And it took a while for me to call the number. I took the paper towel and I just walked around inside the dormitory back and forth, back and forth, trying to get my courage up to call the number. Because I had been let down so many times in the past, it was something that was, I couldn't be let down again. And I knew that this was the last time.

I must have walked around for half an hour before I finally got up enough courage to call them. I just told myself [that] the decision is not going to change one way or another by me hesitating to calling ... and I called him and the first words he said were, "We won." I go, "What?" He said, "We won," I said, "My case got overturned?" He said, "Yes." There was an inmate on the phone next to me and he heard me blurt it out, "My case got overturned." He stood up and said, "All right" and he pats me on the back and he goes back to his own conversations.

I didn't really mean to blurt it out. I got excited. And I was holding onto the phone and I was holding onto the wall. My knees were shaking, my skin was, I felt like it was just moving like the skin on a horse would move. I felt like, "Wow! Finally. Finally they see it. They finally see that they were wrong. After all of these years finally they see that they were wrong. And I'm going to go free."

It was unbelievable. I had lost all rays of hope and then finally they see it and I'm going to go free. It was great. It was the greatest feeling I think I ever had. I got off the phone and the guy that was on the phone next to me, he said, "Did I hear you say you got your case overturned?" I said, "Yes, finally after 12 years." He said, "That is just great, that's really great."

And they all knew what it was, they knew I was a cop, they knew I was in there for crimes against kids but they were all happy for me. They had read so much prior to the case being overturned, I had so much great publicity, finally people hearing what had happened to me, wrong the way they did it. The unfairness of my whole story was clear across the United States thanks to Dorothy Robinowitz.

By this time you had clearly come to understand, thanks to Dorothy Robinowitz and The Wall Street Journal, among others, what had happened to you. You had begun to understand that there was this kind of hysteria that took hold down there and combined with political imperatives and other factors that you couldn't control, you just got in the way of this fire storm.

That's right. I was someone who was wrapped up in the wrong place, the wrong time. Hysteria in Dade County at that time, accusations that were fabricated over long periods of time. And the great attention that they received through me and the stepping stone of a police officer going down, I did this. Prosecutors, Janet Reno, I did this. Crimes against children, we can't stand for that. We're going to take them down.

At the moment of your liberation, had you been able to come face to face at that moment with your prosecutor, Janet Reno, who was by this time the Attorney General of the United States and her staff of prosecutors that put you in prison for life, what would you have said to her?

Well, I would have told them probably nothing. If I would have come face to them I would have probably wanted them to tell me what they thought now. The same way with people asking me what I would say to the children, to the parents. I don't want to have anything to say to them; I want to know what they had to say to me for taking my entire life away from me. Twelve years in prison. I lost my children's childhood, I lost my wife, my home, everything that I ever earned. What have they got to say to me? They know they did wrong, they know they maliciously prosecuted me and they sent me away for something I didn't do. And I am not happy about it at all. I'm upset about it and I really don't have anything to say to them. I want to know what they have to say to me. That's the way I feel about it....

Describe for me if you will what it was like to walk out and put on civilian clothes and embrace your wife?

Well, my wife wasn't in the courtroom when I walked out. She was in the courtroom when the judge said I was going to walk out, but she had to leave. My wife and I are no longer married. I asked her to divorce me years ago, because of the situation. It was a situation where I was sentenced to spend the rest of my life in prison. It wasn't fair to my wife to be out there alone. She was having hard times, mother and father to my two children and the only work my wife did for 17 years was baby-sit. Never [had] an outside of the home job. She was in a vulnerable situation, she couldn't survive by herself. She stuck with me for nearly four years. In that four years, numerous times I asked her to divorce me and go on with her life. And she did.

But later on, after I was released from the courts she was at my mother's house and we had a small buffet spread there. She was there and we embraced and it was a great, great feeling to be able to hold my wife. Even though she is not my wife anymore, she belongs to someone else. But we are still very good friends, we talk all of the time on the phone. My daughter still lives with her, my son has his own family, I even have a 2-year-old grandson now. I will be able to contribute in the upbringing of him even though I lost my own children's childhood.

So you still see your son and daughter now?

Yes of course, I see them every day. Talk to them every day. It's just the greatest feeling in the world to be able to be back with my family now and to be able to maybe get my life straightened out. Of course, I still have some hurdles to cross, but with the people I have working for me now and the way that they are letting everybody see what really happened, I believe that I will soon be totally free.




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