In 2001, when she was 11, Cassandra Ann Kennedy lied about her father raping her. Her father, Thomas Edward Kennedy, denied the charge, but a jury convicted him and sentenced him to more than 15 years in prison.
After coming clean in January, her father was finally released from prison, but Cassandra Ann Kennedy will not be brought to justice for her horrendous lies, a fact that has started a major furor among observers who believe she should be put in prison for wrongly causing her father to rot in jail years.
I did a horrible thing, Cassandra Ann Kennedy told the authorities in January, according to a police report referenced by the Daily News Online, of Lower Columbia, Washington. It's not OK to sit and be locked in this horrible place for something you didn't do. It's just not right.
But that admission can't possibly make up for the nine years Thomas Edward Kennedy spent behind bars, despite the fact that the charges against him were dropped and he was released last week.
Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur told the Daily News Online Cassandra Ann Kennedy's is the only case she had ever heard of in which a child accuser comes forward and takes back her allegations many years after putting someone behind bars, resulting in the accused's release:
This is something my whole office is talking about, she said. This is the kind of thing that shouldn't happen.
Baur told the paper that Cassandra Ann Kennedy, of Longview, Washington, will not be brought up on charges for lying about her father, in part because they do not want to cause a chilling effect that would stop other such child liars from coming forward and recanting their stories once they've reached adulthood.
That decision by the Cowlitz County prosecutor's office not to bring a case against Cassandra Ann Kennedy for concocting a story about a rape that never happened, essentially sentencing her father to nine years in prison, has started a furor among observers across the United States.
The topic became one of the most rabidly-discussed on the popular website Reddit on Tuesday, with people expressing a wide range of views about the seeming injustice of Cassandra Ann Kennedy getting off scott-free after her father had nearly a decade of his life stolen away from him.
If someone admits to a crime, they are subject to prosecution, wrote Redditor rich_blend_extra. She admitted to a horrible crime, and therefore should be prosecuted. Are we going to stop prosecuting child molesters if they come forward admitting to touching children?
And as Christofer Horbelt commented on the Seattle Post-Intelligencier article on the topic: Maybe prosecuting the daughter would ENCOURAGE people to tell the truth instead of lying and using the legal system for their private vendettas.
Another of the points voiced on Reddit was the belief that there should not only be the possibility of charges against Cassandra Ann Kennedy, but also that the authorities should be investigated in order to determin why they could not determine back in 2001 that she was not actually raped, rather than allowing her father to be wrongly convicted:
Yeah, it's a problem that she lied, but it's an even bigger problem that a man was sentenced to jail for 15 years apparently on the word of an 11-year old alone. There are definitely ways to find out whether or not an 11-year old has been raped, so there's no excuse for this whatsoever, wrote Redditor knoberation. This is a case of a man deserving a huge restitution from the state due to what is clearly a huge fault on their part.
Not only will he likely not receive a huge restitution, but he will almost definitely receive no restitution or state assistance whatsoever, as Washington is one of 23 states that do not provide financial assistance or other help for the wrongly accused. Meanwhile, the federal government awards $50,000 per year in prison to people who are exonerated after wrongly serving time in federal penitentiaries, according to ABC News.
Taking a step back, some even-minded Redditors, like TheWhiteBull, suggested that the whole justice system be examined in order to find a way to avoid such situations in the future:
Yeah, the system f---ed up by convicting him, TheWhiteBull wrote. It's the responsibility of the legal system to prosecute the right person for the right crimes. Their witness failed, and they are responsible for that.