In a stunning development, all charges against our client were dropped just one day before trial when the alleged victim finally admitted to prosecutors that the accusations were lies. While the case is grabbing headlines across Ohio and beyond for its surprising outcome, it is also noteworthy because it points out how critical it is for investigators to handle sex crime accusations and investigations properly. It also demonstrates the value of having a knowledgeable, dedicated legal team on your side.
False Accusations Lead to Felony Charges
In May 2023, Jerry North, a custodian for the Milton-Union School District in Miami County, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a child at the school where he worked. North was charged with two counts of rape, two counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of intimidation – all felony charges. Mr. North strongly maintained his innocence and sought representation from the Comunale Law Office.
Preventing and addressing abuse should always be a top priority, especially when the victims are children. It is understandable to react to such allegations with disgust or anger. However, false accusations of sexual abuse are incredibly harmful to the parties involved, and so these allegations must be approached with extreme caution and due diligence.
Attorney Tony Comunale carefully examined the evidence in Mr. North’s case and was convinced that the charges were based on lies. He and his team began working to prove Mr. North’s innocence.
Taking a Stand to Protect Our Client
In the months after Mr. North’s arrest, parents in the school district where he worked became concerned over how officials were handling the investigation and accusations. Because the case was still pending, the school board could only share limited information with the public, leading to fears about transparency. Media coverage also focused on the sensational nature of the charges.
In October 2023, the case was in the news again as the school board worked to address the accusations. As negative coverage piled up, attorney Comunale felt compelled to speak out in defense of his client. In a statement sent to WHIO’s News Center 7, Comunale listed several reasons why the case against Mr. North was suspiciously weak, including contradicting statements from witnesses. He urged the public to remember that the case should not be tried in the media, and “those that see the reporting need to understand that Jerry is not just presumed innocent, he is.”
Charges Dropped When Accuser Recants
Mr. North’s case was set to go to trial on Tuesday, January 23. On that Sunday, the alleged victim, now 11, was meeting with prosecutors for final trial preparations and shocked everyone by suddenly admitting the accusations were false. All charges were dropped on Monday, January 22. The prosecuting attorney, Tony Kendell, told reporters, “In my 30 years in the Miami County prosecuting attorney’s office, I have never witnessed a scenario such as this.”
Fighting for Justice in Complex Cases
The fact that Mr. North was cleared of the charges is certainly a good thing. However the ordeal that he and his family suffered should never have occurred.
When an accusation of sexual abuse is made, the officials and investigators in charge have an obligation to seek out the truth. If they fail to uphold this obligation, innocent people’s lives can be ruined. While our team commends the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office for uncovering the truth in this case, we also hope that it serves as a cautionary tale for future investigations.
The team at Comunale Law Office is fully committed to helping our clients bring the truth to light, and we do not shy away from complex or difficult cases. If you or a loved one need legal assistance, we invite you to discuss your matter with us during a free initial consultation.