Feb 6, 2006
by Phyllis Schlafly<http://www.townhall.com/opinion/contributors/phyllisschlafly.html>
J. Hetherington has been incarcerated
in Michigan prisons for more than
20 years for having sex with his
wife Linda. In 1986, he
became the first man in Genesee
County convicted of the new Michigan
crime called spousal rape.
was not a battered wife; she testified
at the trial that he had never beaten
her in their 16 years of marriage.
honorably discharged from the U.S.
Air Force, received a National Defense
Service Medal, and had no police
record of any sort.
sentencing guideline for this new
offense was 12 months to 10 years.
But, without showing cause, the
judge sentenced him to 15 to
30 years (twice the time served
by the average convicted rapist
in Michigan). Twenty years later,
despite an exemplary prison record,
board routinely refuses to parole
him, giving as its sole reason "prisoner
denies the offense."
has always maintained his innocence.
It was a he-said-she-said case during
a custody battle; he said it was
she said it was rape. The judge
used Michigan's new Rape Shield
Law to prohibit cross-examination
physical evidence of rape was produced
at the trial. A pelvic examination
of Linda at the hospital three hours
after the alleged
offense showed no evidence of injury
or forced penetration. Apparently,
what persuaded the jury to convict
was the testimony of two police
officers that they had observed
tape marks on Linda's face.
court-designated psychologist who
examined Hetherington, Harold S.
"This is not a man who would
himself sexually or hostilely on
another individual, as this would
be foreign to his personality dynamics.
... his histrionic personality ...
would substantiate his explanation
of what has occurred in regards
to the relationship with his ex-wife."
rape charge was prosecuted simultaneously
with the custody case, and the divorce
court had frozen all Hetherington's
assets so he
had no money to hire a lawyer or
make bond. Nevertheless, the criminal
court ruled that he was not indigent
and refused to provide him with
12 years, the court refused to provide
Hetherington with a transcript of
the trial. Without funds, he was
unable to buy one, so he
was effectively denied his right
of appeal, and no appeal has ever
been heard on the substance of this
the sentencing, prosecutor Robert
Weiss called Hetherington's alleged
offense equivalent to "first-degree
murder" and falsely accused
him of beating Linda. Weiss was
running for a judgeship. Observers
sized up his prejudicial statements
as grandstanding for support from
walked away with custody of their
three daughters, the marital home,
and all marital assets.
years after Hetherington's conviction,
a volunteer attorney, Jeff Feldman,
using the Freedom of Information
Act, obtained copies of
five photographs taken of Linda
by police at the alleged crime scene
immediately after the alleged offense.
The photographs were in a locker
in a police garage. The prosecution
had never disclosed them to the
photographs were then examined by
a forensic photographer John Avlor
in Miami using all modern techniques.
notarized report detailed his impressive
expertise, including service as
the lead forensic photographer in
the trial of
serial killer Ted Bundy.
sworn statement, dated Jan. 8, 1998,
states that the pictures of Linda
showed absolutely no scratches,
tape marks or
abnormalities of any kind, and that
marks would have been clearly visible
if there had been any. If a government
witness gives false testimony a
prisoner should be entitled to a
new trial. But Hetherington didn't
later, a completely unsolicited
letter was sent to the parole board
by Melissa Anne Suchy, who had been
employed by Linda as a
baby sitter. Suchy's letter is hearsay
but has the ring of authenticity.
wrote that Linda told her she made
up the story about rape because
she was then pregnant with the baby
of her boyfriend. Linda
said that her boyfriend pushed her
to press rape charges, saying that
she would have to "get rid
of Hetherington or he wouldn't take
care of the
the years, several pro bono lawyers
and concerned citizens have tried
to secure a pardon or a parole for
Hetherington, but Michigan
appears determined to make him serve
30 years because he won't admit
guilt and because the bureaucracy
won't admit it made a mistake.
everyone who reads the record of
what happened to William Hetherington
concludes that he was unjustly accused,
convicted, unjustly sentenced, unjustly
denied his due process and appeal
rights, unjustly denied a new trial
based on physical evidence of inaccurate
testimony by government witnesses,
and unjustly denied parole.
man's life has been sacrificed,
and three children have been denied
their father by malicious feminists
who have lobbied for laws that
punish spousal rape just like stranger
rape and deny a man the right to
cross-examine his accuser. They
have created a judicial system where
the woman must always be believed
even though she has no evidence,
one in which the man is always guilty.
Schlafly is the President and Founder
of the Eagle Forum.
© 2006 Copley News Service