Verdicts & Settlements

Wrongfully convicted ex-cop imprisoned almost 20 years is awarded $9 million by jury

A federal jury in Tacoma, Wash., has awarded $9 million to a police officer who spent almost two decades in prison because two police department colleagues fabricated a case alleging he sexually abused his own children, the Columbian newspaper reports.

Clyde Ray Spencer, who was a motorcycle patrolman with the Clark County Police Department, had entered an Alford plea in 1985, maintaining his innocence but admitting the prosecution probably could convince a jury of his guilt, and received two life sentences plus 14 years. He entered the plea after learning that his defense lawyer had done little investigation and was not calling any witnesses in his trial.

After his first decade in prison, Spencer hired another lawyer and private investigator who discovered that prosecutors had withheld evidence and that his wife had been having an affair with the supervisor of the detective handling child sex abuse cases, according to the National Registry of Exonerations run by the law schools at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University.

Missing evidence indicating possible witness coaching included a video of Spencer’s then-5-year-old daughter that showed her denying sexual abuse but then, after the camera was paused, re-enacted sexual engagement with two dolls, the Columbian reported earlier.

After the unanimous civil jury verdict finding that now retired police Sgt. Michael Davidson and retired Detective Sharon Krause fabricated the case against Spencer, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said prosecutors will look at other of Krause’s cases and, if any are similar to Spencer’s are found, they will notify defense lawyers of the Spencer verdict. Davidson and Krause both testified in the civil case.

Spencer and his family will now ask the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue a criminal corruption investigation, the newspaper reports.

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