Man wrongly convicted of molesting daughter freed
Posted March 2, 2016 6:18 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2016 6:24 p.m. EST
Kinston, N.C. — A man who spent more than two decades in prison for molesting his daughter walked free Wednesday after a Superior Court judge threw out his conviction.
Judge Douglas Parsons said the justice system had failed Howard Dudley, who raised his arms triumphantly and had tears in his eyes as Parsons declared him innocent.
"It feels great," Dudley said outside the Lenoir County Courthouse as he was surrounded by overjoyed family and friends. "I'm excited, and I look forward to us moving on."
"I'm just so truly happy. I never expected that they were going to release him today," Ella King, one of Dudley's sisters, told Greenville television station WITN.
"He spent 20-plus years for something he has not done, and he is standing his ground for what he believes in," brother Lenwood Dudley told WITN.
Howard Dudley was convicted in 1992 of sexually assaulting his 9-year-old daughter and had been serving a life sentence.
The daughter, Amy Moore, now 33, has said several times in the past that she lied about the alleged assault, and she recanted again during a court hearing Tuesday, saying that her father never touched her inappropriately.
"I'm not a child molester. I never have been, and I never will be. I love my daughter, Amy," Dudley said during the hearing Wednesday.
Prosecutors never presented any physical evidence of an assault during Dudley's 1992 trial, and Parsons ruled that he was denied a fair trial because his defense attorney was ineffective.
Family members said they look forward to hearing Dudley play guitar again, and they want to rebuild a relationship with Moore.