Man Seeks New Trial in Daycare Case

by TChris

Unfounded hysteria about sexual abuse of children in daycare centers swept the nation in the 1980's, resulting in the convictions of innocent men and women. Bernard F. Baran Jr., convicted in 1985, says he's one of them.

Baran's lawyer, John Swomley, says the first family to accuse Baran was motivated by a stepparent's prejudice against Baran, who was openly gay.

The mother and her boyfriend were homophobic and had previously complained to the day care center about Mr. Baran because they thought he was gay. They had a history of severe drug abuse and mental health issues. The mother was fearful that she would not regain custody of her children if she did not testify in the manner expected by the prosecutor.

Swomley says Baran's lawyer, hired for $500, did nothing to investigate the suggestive questioning techniques that produced the accusations. He also argues that the prosecution withheld key evidence, including claims by two of the alleged victims that it was actually their mother's boyfriends who sexually assaulted them. Three of the six kids who accused Baran have now recanted their stories, but Baran is still serving multiple life sentences.

Swomley has filed a motion for a new trial, contending the evidence was unreliable, the defense lawyer was incompetent, and the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence. No date to hear the motion has yet been set.

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