Ed Easley was convicted in 1993 in Shasta County of sexually abusing his girlfriend’s eight-year-old niece, Nichole. He pleaded no contest when law enforcement told him there was medical evidence supporting the girl’s accusations and that he faced 35 years in prison if convicted at trial. Easley served 5 years in prison, time on parole and was required to register as a sex offender for life. After his release, he tried to rebuild his life. However, with strict restrictions placed upon sex offenders, he struggled to find work and a place to live. Although out of prison, he was still, in essence, serving time.
Four years after Easley was convicted, Nichole, now a teenager, went to the District Attorney’s office and recanted. She explained that her aunt and her mother had pressured her into accusing Easley to cover for her cousin, who was the true perpetrator. The assistant district attorney told her to leave and threatened to have her aunt, Easley’s former girlfriend, arrested. In 2005, Nichole contacted NCIP and asked if there was anything we could do to help. She explained that she was tormented by the thought Easley continued to suffer because of her false allegations. She also explained that her cousin had apologized to her and admitted to others that he had in fact molested her and that Ed was innocent.
In 2007, NCIP filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging Easley’s conviction based upon Nichole’s recantation. The court, however, dismissed the petition without a hearing. NCIP appealed, and in 2009, the appellate court held a hearing, at which multiple witnesses corroborated Nichole’s account. In addition, a doctor testified that the purported medical evidence against Easley was completely false. Still, the court denied the petition saying the newly discovered evidence of innocence did not meet California’s high standard