Ohio agrees to $1.9M settlement in wrongful convictions

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The state of Ohio will pay out nearly $2 million to settle with a man and woman who were wrongly convicted of child sexual abuse and spent years in prison.

The Ohio Court of Claims approved payments to Robert Aldridge and M. Jenny Reach, formerly M. Jenny Wilcox, of $527,255 and $726,315, respectively, the Dayton Daily News reported. The law firm that represented the two, Cooper & Elliott, will receive $646,430.

Reach and Aldridge, formerly of the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights, were convicted in 1985 of 23 child molestation charges. The convictions were overturned in 1996 after they’d spent 11 years in prison.

Columbus-based private investigator Martin Yant discovered sloppy investigative work led to the unjustified arrests.

“Really a travesty and such an abuse of power,” said Tim Young, the attorney who defended the duo at trial. “The whole apartment complex was in a years-long uproar because the police and prosecutors decided something happened and did not quit until two innocent people were in jail and children’s lives and memories were forever altered.”

Reach and Aldridge are no longer together and both live in Indiana. They said that carrying the stigma of being a child molester profoundly changed their lives.

“It has been hard,” Reach said. “Being called a child molester isn’t an easy thing, and even after your name is cleared, you still have a stigma. And so many things that happened in prison really crushed my self-esteem, like the way they made you strip search before you went out to see your children.”

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