The defense’s insistence on a thorough investigation of the girl’s father was perhaps the biggest factor in winning this case.
The accusation: That Tom had oral-genital contact with Penny, the daughter of Meg, his fiancée, while Meg was at work.
The charge: Rape of a Child in the First Degree.
The possible sentence: life in prison.
The defense David Marshall presented:
Penny was ten when she told Trent, her father, that Tom had molested her three years earlier, during Tom and Meg’s engagement to marry. When Meg learned Penny had said that to Trent, she said Penny had told her the same thing earlier, but long after she and Tom had broken up, and that she had kept it quiet in the hope Trent would not find out and accuse her of neglect to win custody of Penny.
Meg had had a number of unsavory men in her and Penny’s lives. David contended that one of them could well have molested Penny, enabling her to add precocious sexual detail to her false allegations against Tom.
Also, David’s team dug up a rich history of legal actions involving Trent, many of them petitions by Trent for restraining orders; when David asked Trent why he sought restraining orders so often, he explained, “The best defense is a good offense.”
The irresponsible behavior of both Penny’s parents created many cross-currents in her life that could have produced her false allegations against Tom.
The result: dismissal before trial.
What helped get Tom back his life: David’s insistence on thorough investigation was perhaps the biggest factor in winning this case. Neither the police nor the prosecutor had investigated Trent’s background. But they took notice when they saw what David’s team unearthed about Trent. The prosecutor dismissed the case on the eve of trial.