Grown daughter recants, says father by no means raped her; Virginia AG argues life sentence ought to stand

The grown daughter of a Virginia man serving life in jail has recanted her trial testimony, and mentioned her father by no means raped her. Virginia’s Attorney General says the conviction and life sentence ought to stand.

The life sentence being served by a Virginia father was for a vile crime — raping and sexually battering his younger daughter with the help of his spouse and permitting different adults to do the identical.

Alfred “Rick” Alessi was sentenced to life in jail plus 40 years in October 2016, after a Louisa County jury discovered him responsible of rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery of his daughter, when she was in first and second grades. Alessi’s then-14-year-old daughter took the stand through the trial as a key prosecution witness and detailed the abuse.

Now 21 years previous, Vanessa Alessi says the crimes towards her by no means occurred.

Rick Alessi’s attorneys have filed a petition for writ of precise innocence with Virginia’s Court of Appeals, together with a three-page affidavit from Vanessa Alessi, through which she acknowledged she was mendacity on the witness stand throughout her father’s trial.

“I’ve regretted my actions because it occurred. I’ve determined to come back ahead now and inform the reality as a result of I really feel large guilt and remorse about mendacity that my father and mom sexually abused me,” Vanessa Alessi wrote in her affidavit signed July 11, 2022.

“I really feel horrible that my father has been sentenced to life in jail for against the law he didn’t commit,” she wrote.

Shortly after Rick Alessi’s sentencing, Vanessa’s mom, Maria, was acquitted in a bench trial by the identical choose who oversaw her father’s jury trial.

WTOP usually doesn’t publish the identify of sexual abuse victims, until they like to be recognized. However, given her latest public affidavit stating she was by no means a sufferer, and her present standing as an grownup, WTOP is reporting her identify.

Sexual assault, together with little one intercourse abuse, is the second most typical crime related to wrongful convictions, after murder, in accordance with the National Registry of Exonerations.

Years later, daughter recants testimony towards father and mom

When she was 14 years previous, Vanessa Alessi testified about sexual abuse by the hands of her dad and mom. She mentioned that a number of occasions, they undressed her, sexually abused her and allowed different adults to abuse her.

In her 2022 affidavit, Vanessa Alessi mentioned when she was 8 years previous, due to monetary hardship and different private issues together with her dad and mom, she started residing together with her father’s brother and his then-wife.

Shortly after transferring in, she mentioned her aunt walked in on her and her youthful sister taking part in with dolls.

“She thought we have been taking part in inappropriately. After this incident, she requested us on a regular basis if we had been sexually abused by our mom and father,” Vanessa Alessi mentioned within the affidavit. She mentioned her aunt by no means appeared to love her father.

“Her fixed questions felt like encouragement to lie and say that I had been abused. I believed it was what she wished me to say,” Vanessa Alessi wrote in her affidavit.

She added that she used the false allegations of abuse to govern her aunt.

“It was an excuse for my unhealthy habits. I knew that if I did one thing incorrect, however mentioned it was due to the abuse, I wouldn’t get in hassle.”

When she was nonetheless a younger lady, Vanessa Alessi additionally lied to her therapist, since her psychological well being supplier spoke usually together with her aunt.

“If I had been contacted by the protection attorneys for my father, mom or anybody else linked with the case earlier than, throughout or after the time of their trials, I might have lied to them,” she wrote. “I might not have knowledgeable them that my statements have been false.”

Vanessa Alessi mentioned she met voluntarily together with her father’s attorneys, Doug Ramseur and Emilee Manzi Hasbrouck, in April 2022, to tell them that her testimony was not true and to see what could possibly be completed to appropriate the outcome.

“I’m coming ahead as a result of I need to do the suitable factor,” she wrote.

Virginia legal professional normal says daughter coerced to recant

The workplace of Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares argues the conviction ought to stay in place, and the request to have the appeals courtroom declare Rick Alessi harmless needs to be dismissed.

“This precise innocence case, introduced by a person convicted of raping and molesting his daughter, relies completely on an alleged recantation that the convicted rapist’s attorneys wrote for his daughter,” writes Special Assistant to the Attorney General Brandon Wrobleski.

In its partially redacted movement to dismiss filed December 2023, the legal professional normal’s workplace argued Rick Alessi’s attorneys didn’t fulfill the weather required for a courtroom to find out {that a} convicted defendant is harmless.

“The alleged recantation was not simply written by Petitioner’s attorneys — it was the results of years of Petitioner begging and cajoling his family into speaking to and ‘engaged on’ his sufferer,” in accordance with the legal professional normal’s movement.

Wrobleski writes the daughter’s 2022 admissions aren’t new — she had testified to most of the particulars at her father’s trial. “Evidence that existed earlier than the petitioner’s conviction and was a part of the trial proceedings isn’t new.”

In addition, Wrobleski mentioned the truth that Maria Alessi was discovered not responsible by the identical choose who oversaw Rick Alessi’s jury trial “shouldn’t be thought of ‘proof’ on this case.”

The legal professional normal’s submitting mentioned Vanessa Alessi’s recantation doesn’t alter whether or not Rick Alessi is responsible: “A rational trier of reality would once more convict Petitioner. The Commonwealth’s new proof demonstrates the credibility of Vanessa’s years of studies of Petitioner’s sexual abuse,” the legal professional normal’s workplace mentioned.

Father seeks evidentiary listening to, however AG says it’s not warranted

Rick Alessi’s attorneys argue a choose, and never the state legal professional normal, ought to decide the credibility of Vanessa Alessi’s recantation.

“Rather than being ministers of justice and searching for to make sure one in every of (the Commonwealth’s) residents has not been wrongfully sentenced to serve the remainder of his life in jail, the Attorney General seeks to stop significant inquiry into this concern by proffering these arguments that depend on an untrue software of the legislation,” wrote Ramseur and Hasbrouck.

The legal professional normal’s workplace mentioned Vanessa Alessi’s affidavit got here after repeated contact from her father, and that she had been coached. Rick Alessi’s attorneys mentioned most of the legal professional normal’s allegations of contact needs to be inadmissible. And whereas prosecutors say he despatched his daughter 12 emails, solely two point out her trial testimony.

“There was no try and coerce Vanessa into mendacity. He requested her to inform the reality. There aren’t any threats or guarantees made,” in accordance with Rick Alessi’s protection attorneys.

“Under the Attorney General’s interpretation of those statements, Tim Robbins from The Shawshank Redemption and Dr. Richard Kimball from The Fugitive, are villains for sustaining their innocence and hoping that someday they might be exonerated,” wrote Ramseur and Hasbrouck.

It’s unclear whether or not the Court of Appeals will schedule oral arguments, through which Rick Alessi’s attorneys would ask that the case be despatched again to circuit courtroom for an evidentiary listening to. That’s when a choose would contemplate the credibility of Vanessa Alessi’s recantation. The legal professional normal would argue that the petition be dismissed with out a listening to.

If that evidentiary listening to occurs, the Louisa County Circuit Court choose would make findings of reality and refer them to the Court of Appeals, which might resolve whether or not to grant or deny Rick Alessi’s petition to be declared harmless.

Contacted by WTOP, Rick Alessi’s legal professional Ramseur mentioned, “We name on the State of Virginia to assist proper this incorrect. An harmless man is condemned to die in jail and a younger girl is making an attempt to atone for the infantile errors that she made. Each of them suffers whereas this injustice continues.”

Vanessa Alessi’s legal professional, Miriam Airington-Fisher instructed WTOP, in a press release:

“Vanessa was a baby when the case was prosecuted, and now she is an grownup. She stands by her affidavit and can proceed to inform the reality all through the method. Our hope is that, finally, all events can agree that getting justice for this household is extra necessary than upholding a conviction.”

Chloe Smith, spokeswoman for the Office of Attorney General instructed WTOP, “Due to ongoing litigation, we’ve got no remark.”

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