A highly controversial prosecution of a Michigan kindergarten teacher has ended with a new team of prosecutors dropping all charges “in the interests of justice.” The admission did not come until after James Perry, 34, was put through two trials — the first resulted in an overturned conviction due to conflicting evidence. In the meantime, one of the prosecutors responsible for the case will find himself on the defense side of a bar charge for prosecutorial misconduct. Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca will have to answer for his controversial actions in the case. Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Dean in the case argued that possession of movies like Harry Potter should be considered “non-erotic pornography.”
From the outset, the case against Perry was extremely weak. He was first accused by a five-year-old boy who alleged that Perry raped him within three hours of the first day of classes in October 2005. However, the boy later said that a 4-year-old classmate was assaulted with him and, in an interview with police, then denied any attack at all.
Prosecutors decided not to bring charges on such evidence. However, when a new set of managers took control of the office, they pursued Perry again with a blind vengeance. They interviewed the second boy and brought charges of rape of both boys. A jury convicted Perry despite the contradictions in September 2006. To the credit of Judge Langford Morris, the court stood up to intense public criticism and overturned the conviction. Judge Morris cited various contradictions.
The new trial resulted in a hung jury. A special education teacher and several aides testified that the attack could not have occurred because the classroom was full of students and others throughout the day since special education children ate lunch at their desks. Notably, eleven jurors voted to acquit. The sole holdout was a person who lived around the corner from Perry and should probably have been struck from the jury.
The prosecutors who replaced Gorcyca found that the evidence did not support a charge. They told the court: “The decision of whether to further pursue prosecution of this case is made in light of the totality of the facts and circumstances. The evidence as it exists after the conclusion of two jury trials indicates that it is not possible to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
It was a bit late since prosecutors had been hounding Perry, including fighting his right to live in his home due to the close proximity to a school. Gorcyca is not the only prosecutor who made controversial statements in the case. Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Dean actually argued that movies found in Perry’s home, like “Star Wars,” the “Harry Potter” films and “Little House on the Prairie,” constituted “non-erotic pornography.” According to Dean, that would make hundreds of millions of people in possession of “non-erotic pornography.”
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