by Dr. Boyce Watkins
A woman has been crusading for decades to get her father out of prison for a crime that she knows he didn’t commit. One would expect that an admission by the victim that the allegations were bogus would be enough to sway authorities, but apparently, it’s not.
Chaneya Kelly out of Baltimore Maryland, says that she told a terrible lie about her father Darryl back in 1998. She says that her drug-addicted mother forced her to lie on her father, accusing him of sexuαl abuse against his own daughter. She says that it was all part of a lie that she had to tell because her angry mother wanted to use her child to get revenge against her father.
According to her petition, Kelly says that even her mother admitted that it was all a lie:
“When I was just 8 years old, my drug addicted mother forced me to make an accusation of sexuαl abuse against him. But the truth is that my father had never laid a finger on me. Even my mother has admitted she forced me to lie about this during one of her drug binges. But my father is still in prison, 15 years after being wrongfully convicted.”
After admitting to the horrible mistake she made at the impressionable age of eight years old, Chaneya says that she has spent much of her adult life trying to make things right. She has written to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and even spoken to lawmakers, but to no avail. For some reason, they would rather believe that she has been lying to herself all along and that her father really did touch her against her will.
Chaneya says that back in 1997, her mother was feeding her drug addiction by working as a prostitute. She was threatened with a beating if she didn’t say that her father touched her. Chaneya, like a lot of young children, agreed to say whatever her mother told her to say in order to avoid her mother’s drug-fueled wrath.
”It all happened in October of 1997, when my family was living in Newburgh, N.Y. My dad, a Navy veteran, owned a local electronics repair shop. But my mother was so seriously addicted to drugs that she had got involved in prostitution to feed her addiction. One day, out of the blue, she repeatedly asked me if my father had ever touched me. Over and over I told her no, until she became so furious she threatened to beat me with a belt unless I told her what she wanted to hear. To avoid being beaten, I answered “yes”, even though it wasn’t true. “
Chaneya says that her father was charged and convicted with no physical evidence. He refused the plea deal offered to him, which would have given him parole in six years. As is typical in our justice system, asking for a fair trial and simply telling authorities that you are innocent often leads to longer sentences (which is technically a form of torture). This led to a sentence of 20 to 40 years for a crime his daughter, along with her mother, says her father never committed against her.
This case says a few things about our criminal justice system, racism and life itself:
1) The fact that the prosecutors in this case are more concerned with protecting their conviction record than seeking truth is one of the things that makes our justice system among the sickest on earth. There should be legitimate outside authorities capable of reviewing and reversing a case, particularly when there is a) no physical evidence and b) an admission by both the alleged victim that the perpetrator never committed the crime. While it is possible that this woman could have been manipulated into changing her story, the case should still be opened with the evidence made public for all the world to see. You don’t keep a man in prison because you want to preserve your bureaucracy.
2) I would imagine that the courts might listen to Chaneya if she were a wealthy white woman. The court’s decision to ignore both she and her father are indicative of the disrespect for black life that exists within our judicial system. For courts and prisons, black people are commodities and not much more. Her request for simple justice is an inconvenience to their revenue generating model, since the courts and police are not here to protect black people: They are here to protect white people from black people and to make money from black people whenever possible. If justice were to be truly served in America, a lot of people would lose their sources of income.
3) This case should mortify any black man reading this article. The idea that you can be sent to prison for decades for a mere accusation of this kind of wrong-doing is highly problematic. There are likely thousands of other men who’ve gone through the same experience, but don’t have the “good fortune” of their accusers coming forward to admit that they lied. If Chaneya is telling the truth that this man was convicted without the presence of physical evidence, then this case is beyond disturbing.
4) Darryl’s case shows that parental alienation is real. While many of us believe in the myth that all black fathers desire to be deadbeats, the truth is that there are quite a few men whose children have been taught to despise them. The mother is the first teacher of the child and therefore, the most powerful being in that child’s universe. If she uses this power in irresponsible or vengeful ways, it can cause inter-generational chaos.
Chaneya’s campaign thus far has roughly 90,000 signatures. You can sign the petition here.