After 16 years, a courageous judge voids the wrongful convictions of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen.
Roxbury, Massachusetts June 24, 2009 The NCRJ congratulates Lorain (OH) Common Pleas Judge James Burge for his courage in ordering the acquittals of Joseph Allen and Nancy Smith. Only 15 days ago, another of the NCRJ’s many cases came to a successful conclusion when Berkshire (MA) County District Attorney David Capeless decided to no longer pursue the 25-year-old case of Bernard Baran, the first person convicted during the national wave of hysteria about sexual abuse in daycare centers.
Nancy Smith was a bus driver for Head Start. It was alleged that Smith would drive the children on her school bus to Allen’s house where they would be grotesquely abused. She would then drive the children to school, always getting them there on time. At the time of these alleged incidents, Smtih and Allen had never met.
Earlier this year, Judge Burge vacated the sentences of Smith and Allen due to a technical sentencing error. It was expected that he would resentence them at a later hearing. Instead, Judge Burge today astonished everyone by ordering acquittal.
Burge had set $100,000 bail for each of them. A supporter of Nancy Smith was able to arrange her bond. But Joseph Smith and his family had no resources. The NCRJ launched a fund-raising campaign on his behalf and was thus able to post his bail.
The NCRJ has been sponsoring the Smith/Allen cases since 2002. Last fall, Allen wrote the NCRJ, saying, “You all have brought so much joy into my heart, and peace. That is what is holding me up in here while I’m struggling with this injustice.