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#InnocentDAD The Fight to Free Daryl Kelly Sr.

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My father, Daryl Kelly Sr., has been in prison since 1998 for a crime he never committed - based on a lie I told. When I was just 8 years old, my mother forced me to make an accusation of sexual abuse against him. At the time, my mother was heavily into substance abuse. The truth is that my father had never laid a finger on me. My mother has admitted she forced me to lie about this. But my father is still in prison.

I have been trying for years now to be heard. Now that I have matured into a mother, this fight is even more important to me. I have written Governor Cuomo and spoken to members of a committee of district attorneys who were reviewing my case - but they won't listen to me. All they did was try to put it in my head that my father did do this and I am suppressing it. They even recorded the interviews and when my fathers lawyer requested copies, he was ignored. This has led me to believe corruption is one characteristic I am challenged with.

In October of 1997, my family was living in Newburgh, N.Y. My dad, a Navy veteran, landscaped as the local electronics repairman. But my mother was seriously addicted to drugs that she had got involved in prostitution to feed her addiction. One day, out of the blue, she repeatedly asked me if my father had ever touched me. Over and over I told her no, until she became so furious she threatened to beat me with a belt unless I told her what she wanted to hear. To avoid being beaten, I answered "yes", even though it wasn't true. 

My mother told her mother, my grandmother. My grandmother, a victim of sexual abuse herself, took me to the family clinic to be checked out. A nurse could not confirm any finding but mentioned to a police officer that their was redness. With no evidence of sexual abuse, the police took the nurses findings and charged my father with multiple counts of rape and sodomy. My hyman was intact and there was no sign of anal abuse. My father maintained his innocence and refused a plea deal that would have made him eligible for parole in six years, and within a year he faced a jury. Based on my testimony (I was coached by the prosecution and taught words like "penis" and "vagina"), it took the jury only hours to find him guilty, and he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years. 

Last year the head of the Conviction Review Bureau at the N.Y. Attorney General's office called for my father's case to be reviewed. But the district attorney who prosecuted him won't listen and upheld his conviction. He says my testimony is not credible and that “the system says he’s not innocent." I then spoke with a committee of district attorneys who were reviewing my dad's case and they wouldn't listen to what I had to say - they just kept telling me I must be repressing the abuse. All of which is on record because they video taped both interviews. When my fathers attorney and I sent out request to receive copies of the interview, we were denied. (Which makes me upset because I should be able to have a copy of a video tape that features myself)

My dad is innocent of all accusations. From the story above, the Orange County District Attorneys office had nothing but my testimony and they did everything in their power to make sure I said what they needed me to say, to solidify their conviction. So far, all of his appeals have been denied and any attention I have used at state and local levels have been brushed aside. Just imagine for a moment, you are raided by police in 1998, arrested and charged for sexual abuse and sodomy on your own child, you watch your child testify against you in court (surrounded by strangers), saying things you had no idea she had the intelligence to put together, and you are innocent. How would you feel? 19 years and counting, praying that justice will prevail and the truth will set you free, and officials passing your story along to the next person until that one person does what they took an oath to do: Fight for the wrongly accused.

**When I was a teenage, I saw my father in prison for the first time. He hugged me so tight and he told me that he loved me, that he didn't blame me for anything. He never let me go until I was ready for him to let go. That meant the world to me. That reminded me of how unconditional love works. My dad and I currently have a relationship through pictures and letters. He's holding up strong and praying everyday. Now I need your help to set him free.

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