Justice for Drew Harrison

Justice for Drew Harrison

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Judy (Jude) Harrison started this petition to Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin

Our son, Drew Harrison, was wrongfully convicted of a sexual assault. He is on the autism spectrum, and served three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew's autistic behaviors along with considerable exculpatory evidence were never properly taken into consideration at trial or sentencing.

Drew is home now, but we are petitioning Governor Glenn Youngkin to grant Drew a pardon.

Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. She confirmed this during a phone call with Drew's therapist. The therapist testified that the woman told him that when she asked Drew to stop, he stopped. And, that she only asked him to stop once.

The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion, months after the evening in her apartment, they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. She also continued to send him emails about sexual fantasy stories. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. 

The mental health of the woman involved was not taken into consideration when determining her motives, behavior and inconsistent testimony. She seems intent on perpetually dragging out an image of victimhood with seemingly no insight or regard for how severely she has impacted our family.

Okay, so how is Drew's autism diagnosis relevant? Social, emotional and communication deficits manifested strongly for Drew in 2012 when he wrote a series of impulsive and hostile writings to the woman and one of her friends. Drew has always taken ownership and has apologized repeatedly for these inappropriate texts and messages, but they were nevertheless used against him along with other common autistic behaviors with no regard for Drew's difficulty appropriately expressing anger, pain, sadness, confusion and frustration at that time in his life.

Autism affects Drew in specific ways. Drew presents nothing like Rain Man, Sheldon Cooper or other autistic stereotypes. Drew has been dedicated to therapy, psychiatry and bettering himself. 

Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.

In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.

The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son.

In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. He was forced through completely unethical benzodiazepine withdrawal and went weeks without sleep. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wore ear plugs and wrapped a shirt around his head. He struggled to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Prison visits were bittersweet. We were grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we saw him deteriorate.

Living on the sex offender registry with felonies is making it difficult for Drew to find steady work and become independent. We are asking Governor Youngkin to help Drew by granting him a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition.

My blog www.savedrew.com gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.

Thank you,

Judy and John Harrison

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At 15,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!