Judi Yuill: A Texas man is back in Massachusetts this week, seeking damages from the state for what he claims was his wrongful conviction for the rape of a child 35 years ago. Kevin O’Loughlin has always insisted on his innocence. Three years ago, a judge vacated his conviction and prosecutors decided not to re-file charges, saying new evidence casts real doubt on the justice of the conviction.
Jenifer McKim with WGBH News partner the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has been covering this story, and she's with me in the studio. Hi, Jenifer.
Yuill: So who is Kevin O’Loughlin and what happened in this case?
McKim: So Kevin O’Loughlin is now a 55-year-old Texas salesman who is here in Massachusetts seeking monetary damages for what he says is a wrongful conviction. He was arrested and convicted in 1983 of a terrible rape of a child in Framingham and only discovered several years ago that there may have been injustice in his conviction. A Framingham police officer realized a similarity between him and another man who's convicted of several terrible child rapes and sexual offenses, and brought it to the attention of prosecutors who decided to take a new look at his case. So the judge overturned the case, the prosecutors decided not to re-file, and now he's seeking damages from the state attorney general's office, saying that he suffered because of this case. There's a law that was passed in 2004 basically saying that the state has a moral debt to repay when people are wrongfully convicted. He's here to seek monetary damages for what he said was a terrible time in prison and a life escaping the pain of it.
Yuill: So how much is he seeking?
McKim: The law now has recently just been changed to increase the cap to a million dollars for compensation. It's unclear whether he will qualify for that because of whether it's retroactive.
Yuill: So what's been happening in court?
McKim: It's been two days that have been very emotional. He's been there. He talked today about how he'd been abused in prison, beaten and tortured and pushed around both by guards and inmates. Here's how O’Loughlin’s lawyer Michael Kendall described his experience:
Sound from Michael Kendall: During that time he faced death threats, verbal abuse and physical assaults. He got a broken nose, he got burns, he got repeated punches and kicks. In particular, they liked to punch and kick him in the groin.
So O’Loughlin has spent the rest of his life trying to escape the shame of this crime. The attorney general's office says that he has to prove his innocence, which is a high bar. The attorney general has said that the victim is going to be speaking and still maintains that O’Loughlin is the man who committed the crime.
Yuill: Now what happens next?
McKim: My understanding is the victim is going to come in in the next couple of days. There's other people who will be speaking about this case. My understanding also is that the attorney general is fighting this claim, saying that the Framingham Police have already given him $900,000 in the settlement, and that he does not qualify for the increased $1 million cap because he filed before the law — the change in the law.
Yuill: And it's not retroactive, according to them?
McKim: That's right.
Yuill: OK. Thanks for joining us, Jenifer.
McKim: Thank you very much.
Yuill: That's Jenifer McKim with WGBH News partner the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. She's been following the case of Kevin O’Loughlin, who is seeking compensation from the state of Massachusetts for what he claims was his wrongful conviction in the rape of a child.