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Recent Exoneration of Joshua Horner, Wrongfully Convicted of Sex Abuse, Spotlights Widespread Problem of False Allegations

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Contact: Rebecca Stewart


Recent Exoneration of Joshua Horner, Wrongfully Convicted of Sex Abuse, Spotlights Widespread Problem of False Allegations

WASHINGTON / September 12, 2018 – This past Monday, Deschutes County Judge Michael Adler overturned a 50-year sentence against Joshua Horner of Redmond, Oregon. Horner had been convicted on April 12, 2017 of sexual abuse of a minor. In the trial, the complainant testified that Horner shot and killed her dog as a warning that she not bring her sexual molestation claim to the police.

With the assistance of the Oregon Innocence Project, the dog was recently found alive and well in another city, casting significant doubt on the truthfulness of the accuser. It was the first exoneration for the Oregon Innocence Project, launched in 2014 to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and promote legal reforms.

Horner’s exoneration highlights the problem of false allegations in criminal cases. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, false allegations/perjury are the most common contributing factors for wrongful convictions, representing 57% of all exonerations. False allegations/perjury are especially common in child sex abuse cases (85% of exonerations) and homicide cases (69% of exonerations).

Nearly one in 10 persons – 9.7% — of respondents to a national survey said they had been falsely accused of sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse. Three-quarters of persons claiming to be falsely accused were male.

On college campuses, false allegations of sexual misconduct are believed to be commonplace. In over 100 lawsuits against universities, judges have sided with the accused student. At one university, the training materials openly justify false allegations of sexual assault, claiming that verified “lies” of accusers “should be considered a side effect of an assault.”

False allegations are not a victimless crime. Nikki Yovino, 18, was recently convicted and sentenced to one year in jail for false reporting of an alleged campus rape in Connecticut. At the sentencing hearing, Malik St. Hilaire, victim of her false accusation, explained, “I went from being a college student, to sitting at home being expelled with no way to clear my name.”

September is False Allegations Awareness Month.


Stop Abusive and Violent Environments works to end sexual assault and domestic violence.