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Fort Walton Beach Sexual Allegations Flawed

Fort Walton Beach Sexual Battery Allegations Are Notoriously Flawed

Despite its sunny and beautiful locale in Florida, Fort Walton Beach is home to one of the fastest rising crime rates in the nation, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Over the past few years, crimes rates have soared, and violent crimes have risen by a whopping 40%. One of the more commonly occurring violent offenses is sexual battery. Though complaints of rape and sexual assault are common in Fort Walton Beach, research and real-life examples have shown that rape complainants are notoriously unreliable when both describing and identifying their rapists.

Ronald Cotton

In one of the most famous cases of this unfortunate trend, Jennifer Thompson lived alone in a North Carolina apartment in 1984 while she attended school at Elon College. While she was asleep in bed one night, a man climbed through her window with a knife in his hand. He held the knife to her throat and threatened to kill her, then raped her. The ordeal lasted an hour. Though Thompson wanted to close her eyes, she instead stared at the perpetrator square in the face during the assault. She memorized his features so that she could report him to the police. She was then able to run to a neighbor’s to seek help, and the man escaped.

Thompson reported the rape to the police, and using her memory of the man’s face, she described how he looked to a sketch artist. Based on the drawing, the local police set out to find the suspect. They gathered together several photos of black men from the area that had criminal histories. One of these men was Ronald Cotton. Cotton voluntarily cooperated with officers during questioning because he was innocent. However, this backfired when Thompson identified him as a rapist. Based on her memory, Thompson was firmly convinced Cotton was the rapist. Cotton was arrested and charged with two counts of rape, then later convicted.

While incarcerated, Cotton met a man named Bobby Poole. Poole bragged that he had raped Thompson. Cotton appealed and was granted a second trial, though he was not permitted to allow testimony that Poole was the real rapist. During this second trial, Thompson remained firm in her belief that Cotton had raped her. Cotton was again convicted.

It wasn’t until 1995 that a criminal defense attorney came along who believed in Cotton’s innocence. The lawyer filed a motion for DNA testing. In 1984 when the crime occurred, DNA testing did not exist. However, in 1995, the police were able to test the items in evidence. It was found that Cotton did not match any of the DNA evidence, but Poole did.

Cotton’s conviction for rape was then overturned, and he was released. Thompson learned of the decision and was overcome with feelings of confusion and guilt but refused to speak with Cotton. A special documentary on the case was filmed that both Thompson and Cotton participated in, though she declined to meet him. It wasn’t until later when she watched the film and saw how hurt he looked over the experience that she was convinced to contact him and apologize. Over the years, the two have become close friends and wrote a book in 2009 entitled Picking Cotton, which covers the case, as well as the inherent unreliability of eyewitnesses. Cotton and Thompson hope that the case can shed light on issues with suspect identification.

Fight Misidentification with Stephen G. Cobb

If you were identified in Fort Walton Beach as being involved in sexual battery, consult with a skilled Fort Walton Beach criminal defense attorney immediately. Stephen G. Cobb assists Okaloosa County residents with conducting thorough investigations and vigorously defending false allegations of rape. Call us today at (850) 423-0035 to learn more about how we can help you.

Cobb Law Firm
1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 101-B
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
(850) 423-0035

Source: https://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20100602/articles/5301000?p=3&tc=pg


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“"This is actually one of the best law firms I've had the pleasure of dealing with. They stick with you throughout the entire process, walking you through every step and they know the law! They were able to help me get out of a situation that had occurred because of a technicality and was very knowledgeable in the process. I would recommend them to anyone."”

James S.

“"Such a great service to go through when dealing with any legal matter! Mr. Cobb is very knowledgable and will take the time to understand and communicate with you in a timely manner."”

Dreeana A.

“"Everything was great and smooth working with Mr. Cobb. He was fast and efficient and answered any questions I had."”

Joshua T.

“"I would recommend Attorney Cobb to others. I would describe him as an honest and straightforward lawyer. All my concerns were addressed."”

Crystal H.

“"He was excellent, he did everything without me having to do much especially not living close. I hired him and told him everything and he did it all and it was a great experience. The legal assistant that works there was also amazing."”

Joseph S.

“"It was as clean of a process as it could have been for me. He handled everything for me because I live out of state and made it so simple and easy. He was great and thorough and I hardly had to do anything."”

William S.

“"If you can hire Stephen as your attorney then definitely do that. He talked openly and gave me assurance and even his legal assistant that works there is amazing. I never had any problems or trouble with them."”

Lonnie M.

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