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Police get their man in sex crime case -- but they were wrong

A somewhat bizarre story is unfolding outside of New York that shows how due process can be violated sometimes and how the police are not always in the right when they investigate or accuse people of a crime.

The case involves a sex crime, wherein a young girl was sexually assaulted. A teenager was accused of the crime but vehemently denied playing a role in the act. He was arrested and spent 35 days in jail for his supposed crime. While he was in jail, the teenager was trying to figure out why he was accused and arrested for an act he didn't commit. He eventually put the pieces together: a teen in his class, who shares his first and last name and attended school with him since 7th grade, must have committed the act.

As it turns out, the wrongfully accused man was right. The police made a mistake by assuming they had the right person who shared a first and last name with someone in his school. Compounding their mistake, the police failed to show the victim of the crime a photo of the teen they arrested, a critical error that could have prevented this situation from arising in the first place.

Mistakes happen -- but when it comes to criminal matters, even if they are understandable mistakes, they are still inexcusable. We are talking about people here, not a name on a piece of paper. When a real, living, breathing person has his or her rights completely trampled on, then justice needs to be done.

Source: Florida Times-Union, "Name mix-up in sexual battery case sends wrong Clay County teen to jail for 35 days," Topher Sanders, Feb. 24, 2014

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