"I didn't do it!" What Happens When the Innocent is Wrongfully Accused in Texas?

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

An Innocent Accused of a Heinous Crime Repercussions of False Allegations in a Sexual Assault of a Child in Texas By Catherine Smit-Torrez

As a private investigator in Fort Worth, an experienced law enforcement officer, who has served the welfare of children throughout my career, I, among others, know the consequences of false accusations. I am presenting how such a "he said-she said"case can have damaging effects on the falsely accused. I will also discuss how a skilled private investigator, specialized in communicating with children involved in such cases, is crucial in determining the truth and mitigating the damage that will result.

Dr. Allen Pearson, DDS specializing in Pediatric Dentistry, was accused of sexual assault of a child, with that child being his daughter. How could his daughter, who loved her dad, accuse him falsely of inappropriate touching? She reported that her dad and his current wife had gone out on a date night to celebrate their 7th anniversary. She stated that she heard them come in from their date and heard him come up the stairs. She reported that she pretended to be asleep and that he laid down on her bed beside her for a few minutes (as he usually did to spend time with her as she was going off to sleep), and it was then that he inappropriately touched her. Dr. & Mrs. Pearson stated that Dr. Pearson was very tired when they came in, so he never even went upstairs. However, Mrs. Pearson did go upstairs to ensure that the dogs weren't in the children's beds asleep with the kids.

The children were there on visitation with their dad, but their primary residence was with their biological mother. Dr. Pearson and his ex-wife separated and divorced after his ex-wife admitted to having relations with another woman and decided she wanted to change her lifestyle. Dr. Pearson was brokenhearted over the divorce but was very amicable towards his ex-wife during and after the divorce. Dr. Pearson agreed to allow his ex-wife to work a few days a week at the dental clinic after the divorce, which allowed her access to the bank account for the dental practice. Dr. Pearson's CPA alerted him about the purchases that she had been making. He further suggested to him to remove her from the accounts because the purchases were not business related. She was making frivolous personal expenditures. When his ex-wife found out the CPA had alerted Dr. Pearson, she tried to fire him. To avoid confrontation, Dr. Pearson disregarded the CPA's advice. She continued spending irresponsibly.

Dr. Pearson had met and begun dating Edith, who, after a while, became his new wife. Edith wanted to help Dr. Pearson with the practice by helping to address the decor and assist in managing the staff. Edith learned that the CPA had, once again, advised Dr. Pearson to remove his ex-wife from the bank accounts. Dr. Pearson's ex-wife began to get involved in Dr. Pearson's new marriage. She continued to manipulate Dr. Pearson for additional money. Edith quickly stepped in and, with Dr. Pearson's consent, removed her from all the dental practice business aspects. Dr. Pearson, a very meek and non-confrontational man, was happy that Edith stepped in and took over.

Shortly after the dismissal of the ex-wife from the practice and its bank accounts, the ex-wife began making allegations to authorities that Dr. Pearson was committing Insurance Fraud. She contacted the authorities with her allegations, and an investigation ensued, but he was later cleared. She then alleged that Dr. Pearson was committing Medicare Fraud. An investigation took place, and he was cleared of Medicare Fraud. The ex-wife also contacted the FBI to wage the same accusations against him. When the ex-wife didn't get the conviction she set out to get, she became desperately jealous and vengeful.

She sought the assistance of a Voodoo doctor. He gave her an item with a spell and made some kind of incantation. He directed her to take the said item to a graveyard. The spell's purpose was to get Dr. Pearson and Edith to break up their marriage. The ex-wife returned to the Voodoo doctor to explain that the spell didn't work. The Voodoo doctor sent her to a more powerful Voodoo doctor who came up with a new item infused with a new spell/incantation. However, he explained that he needed to take that item to a special graveyard in Mexico and that he would charge her over $1500 to do that for her. (Yes, he was a Mexican American.) The ex-wife and her live-in girlfriend waited several days to see the results but saw none. Next, they took a different item, into the home of Dr. Pearson, without Dr. & Mrs. Pearson's knowledge. The item was different from the Voodoo doctor's bag of tricks, which supposedly contained a different spell/incantation. When they snuck into Dr. Pearson's house, it was not a challenge as Dr. Pearson failed to change the locks and alarm code on his home. They conducted a voodoo ritual as directed by the Voodoo doctor. This last incantation also could not produce the results the ex-wife hoped for.

After this last incantation failure, the daughter alleged that her dad touched her inappropriately. The ex-wife's girlfriend had seen quite a bit of the effort that the ex-wife had gone through and knew the ex-wife master-minded the entire plot of events. This former girlfriend later parted ways with the ex-wife and became Dr. Pearson's star witness. The ex-wife also involved their older son, who suffered from depression, and began to influence him with the sexual assault allegations. As a result, their older son began to believe the allegations against his dad and Edith. Their son was in a fragile mental state, and he went to social media to publicize information about his dad in hopes of affirming what his mother had alleged. Their older son, now convinced by his mother, turned against his father, believing his dad had molested his younger sister. The sexual assault outcry made it to the police, and Dr. Pearson was charged with the sexual assault. The criminal process began. Dr. Pearson was arrested on two charges of Indecency with a Child. The following are automatic steps in the prosecution of such cases:

  • - Department of Family & Protective Services -(Texas Child Protective Services) will be notified and begin an investigation that will likely coincide with Law Enforcement. This step is usually done at the onset of the police investigation.

  • - The arrest of the accused

  • - The accused are either assigned a public defender or hired a private defense attorney. The fees may cost $10k-$30k for representation; however, these fees are not inclusive of a trial. Many attorney s charge an additional rate if a trial ensues. Some attorneys charge far more than these mentioned fees.

  • - An arrest becomes public information, and the Media usually reports it, affecting the livelihood of professionals like Dr. Pearson.

  • - Social Media continues the spread of allegations and opinions from anyone who has an opinion.

  • - Bond (if the judge feels the defendant is not a risk to the community). Usually in the $50k-$250k range, depending on the elements of the case.

  • - The accused are usually ordered to have no unsupervised time with any underage child.

  • - No visitation with their children unless supervised by a court-approved supervisor.

  • - A defense attorney may request the defendant to take a polygraph if they feel the results could help defend the accused. Some Assistant District Attorneys will consider the passing of a polygraph in conjunction with other elements that help to prove the defendant's innocence before the Grand Jury hearing. Sometimes, some police detectives will consider dropping a case if the defendant passes a polygraph coupled with additional proof of innocence prior to arrest.

  • - Any professional license or employment that exposes a child to the defendant's presence can be temporarily suspended, pending the trial results or the case's dismissal. If the defendant chooses to appeal the suspension, he must hire a different attorney who handles employment law and specializes in defending one's professional license. The additional cost for this attorney is approximately $15k-$50k+.

  • - If the defendant's attorneys need an investigator to assist with their case, the investigator's costs could be in the range of $2k-$10k or possibly more.

  • - Suppose the defendant successfully defended their right to continue working until the verdict of the criminal case. In that case, they will still face media coverage and social media exposure. This could cause clients/patients to move to an alternative while simultaneously causing a decline in business/sales.

  • - Criminal trial preparation: multiple court appearances cause the defendant to lose valuable work time as they are away from their practice. There are also meetings with attorneys and investigators to accomplish all necessary defense strategies and presentations.

  • - Grand Jury: All cases that are accepted by the District Attorney's office (DA) are usually presented to the Grand Jury. A Grand Jury determines if sufficient probable cause exists to charge the accused formally. This is called an indictment. If the Grand Jury finds insufficient probable cause, this situation is known as a "No Bill." In most cases, the DA office will only present their side of the case to the Grand Jury. However, a few Assistant DAs (ADA) are willing to provide the Defense's findings and evidence to date. A defense attorney makes a difficult decision to provide that information to the ADA for presentation to the Grand Jury because they are giving away almost all their defense strategy. The prosecutors will often use that information to prepare to argue against it in the trial if they know the information upfront.

  • Once the indictment is announced, the information is up for public consumption. Many database companies purchase court information, and indictments are usually part of that data.

  • - Employers may conduct random database searches, commonly called background searches. This writer had a different client victimized because of this practice. He never notified his employer of the arrest because his attorney arranged a walk-through to surrender the defendant to the court and provide a bond. He knew he was innocent and felt confident the findings would render him "Not Guilty," so it never crossed his mind to inform his employer in the insurance sales industry. He was a director at the insurance company and suddenly found himself unemployed and "black-balled" in the industry. This individual lost his home, forcing his teenage children to move from their high schools.

  • - Plea Bargain: a plea bargain is a contract between the prosecutor and the defendant. If they choose to accept one, they will plead guilty to the charge or a lesser charge. They agree to a prearranged punishment situation, which could include jail, prison time, or other conditions. Plea bargain arrangements deny the defendant an appeal process. The guilty rumors spread dramatically. Some defendants accept plea bargains even if they are innocent because they are too fearful of going to prison and what all that entails. This writer used to believe that no innocent person would ever plead guilty to something if they were innocent. However, this has been proven to be an error in judgment.

  • - A defendant may have to wait approximately 15 months to 24 months in large metropolitan areas to await a trial.

  • - If the defendant receives a "Guilty" verdict, he faces 2-99 years, depending on the elements of the crime they are charged with. In the case of Dr. Pearson, he faces 2-20 years for Indecency, 21.11(a)(1) TX Penal Code. The State of Texas requires most convicted sex offenders to register as a "Sex Offender." This report is conducted annually at their local city police department. The sex offender will be restricted from living near schools or churches where children attend (municipal law) and from being around any child unsupervised. This restriction will also require that they are not permitted to be employed in specific places that are frequented nor be allowed to be a volunteer for any organization where children participate.

  • - If the defendant receives a "Not Guilty" verdict, he must complete all steps in closing the DFPS (Child Protective Services) case and requirements. He must also get a certified copy of the verdict to the State licensing entity if they were notified of the arrest. The defendant must then attempt to get the message out to their employers, customers/clients, family, friends, church, and other social circles of their "Not Guilty" verdict. The falsely accused must also do everything to conduct damage control regarding their character assassination via social media, local news, and other media outlets.

In this case, Dr. Pearson continued to practice as a Pediatric Dentist after this investigator went to Austin to help defend his license to practice from being suspended. However, many of his patients were fearful that the charges could be true and did not want to feel that they were subjecting their children to a suspected pedophile. Therefore, they did not continue as his patients. Due to the drastic loss of income, Dr. Pearson had to sell his home to prevent foreclosure. The breach in the relationship with his son may never be repaired as it was difficult for his son to believe that his mother and sister could possibly lie about such a horrendous crime. The daughter, the pawn used by the mother who orchestrated the allegation, may have difficulty ever having a proper relationship with her father. Any child psychologist will agree that the children will suffer emotionally and in many other ways over this ordeal.

Dr. Pearson is exceptionally fortunate to have found an aggressive lawyer and private investigator to work on his behalf, and he had the Lord's favor. Not surprisingly, Dr. Pearson was found "Not Guilty" by a jury of his peers. Even though he was found "Not Guilty," he will continue to face lasting effects from this life-changing event.

Society's general consensus about those accused of any sexual crime against a child is that "One wouldn't be charged with something like this had there not been some truth to it." If the defendant is found "Not Guilty," many will just say, "He must have had a good attorney," believing the defendant only succeeded through the skill and efforts of a good attorney. The social stigma is something that the defendant will deal with for the rest of his life.

These Crimes Against Children cases and the Assault Family Violence crimes are the only real charges where someone faces the "Guilty until PROVEN Innocent" attitude and relentless police efforts to prove the case. The police don't feel the urgency to thoroughly investigate a Crimes Against Children case to prove the defendant's/suspect's innocence as they might in other cases. They feel an urgency to protect the child, which is commendable. However, if the child falsely accuses another person, it prevents the officer's objectivity.

In conclusion, one must wonder why anyone would falsely accuse someone of such a horrendous crime. These cases do not need evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt because jurors have difficulty believing that a child would ever lie about something like this.

They will also believe a child would not know the words to express had they had not truly been a victim of the acts. How would they know how to describe bodily functions or sexual acts if they had never experienced them?

It has been this writer's experience, as a law enforcement officer, a D.A.R.E. officer, a school resource officer, and a private investigator in Fort Worth, to learn the following ill motives in false allegation cases are learned by either a parent coaching a child to say what is needed or learned from watching television shows like "Law & Order SVU" and other popular crime shows:

  • - A parent wants to rid themselves of the other abusive parent.

  • - A parent wants a better advantage in a child custody/divorce case.

  • - Illegal immigrant wants to better their opportunities to receive victim benefits and an accelerated legal status process in this country.

  • - A child who wants to liberate themselves from the strict parent who prevents them from doing things they feel entitled to.

  • - A child who wants to save face from placing themselves in a situation where they will be in trouble will shift the focus away from that wrong act.

  • - A young person who faces "buyer's remorse" for a sexual interaction they willingly participated in with a young person with only a 2 to 3-year age difference. There is a defense to prosecution for sexual acts with another less than three years of an age difference. However, this so-called victim does not desire the accused person to go to jail. They merely want the other people to believe they were not willing partners to prevent punishment by a parent who caught them in the act. Also, some are fearful that a boy/girlfriend would break up with them if they were willing to engage in the act.

  • - Revenge.

  • - Jealousy. Whether due to rejection or some competitive attitude towards another has been the motive of some cases this writer has dealt with. The complainants were convinced that this would be a great way to "show them" that they were a force to be dealt with.

  • - Attention. Some children are quite desperate for attention and will do anything to get it. Some children learn of the attention others get by being victims of these crimes and emulate the things they see and hear.

So, to sum it up, the defendant loses lots of money, lots of time, possibly his job and even perhaps his career, and his family time, some family members may lose faith in him, his home, his dignity, and respect from others, and his current and future reputation. Remember those database companies who buy up the indictments? It takes approximately three years to get the records expunged in the "Not Guilty" verdict. Then there is the task of contacting every database provider in America who could have bought the records. Then there are the requests to news media outlets to ask them to expunge the information from their archives. News agencies do not have to expunge it because the arrest actually occurred. Future employers can conduct background checks that include inquiries into multiple database searches, Social media dives and Google searches, and news articles/videos to locate any information found on the Internet, and they are not required to expunge the records. It is impossible to cleanse the Internet completely.

Teach your family members about these possible outcomes. There are falsely accused people in prison because of these "He said - She said" cases that have no further evidence than a mere accusation by one child. Never allow yourself to be in a place where you are alone with someone who could make these allegations.

 Catherine Smit Private Investigator in Dallas Fort Worth

About the Author: Catherine Smit-Torrez has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. During her tenure in law enforcement, Catherine served as Chief of Police for the Cockrell Hill Police Department. Catherine has also served as a Private Investigator since 2008 and owns Stiletto Spy & Company Investigations, LLC since 2010. She served as the President of the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators 2020-2022 and is a Texas Board Certified Investigator.


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