Man convicted of child sexual abuse is cleared after six years - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Man convicted of child sexual abuse is cleared after six years

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Zachary Smith Zachary Smith

It has been six years since Zachary Smith has spent time with his daughter. But that's going to change. He was convicted of sexually abusing her in 2006, but the conviction was recently overturned.

Smith has been labeled as a sex offender since October 2006. That's when a jury found him guilty of sexual abuse. But, a judge has now overturned that conviction thanks to his daughter's testimony. "I'd hate to see anyone else have to walk in my shoes." The last six years has been a fight, Zac Smith wasn't sure he would win. However, he chose not to give up.

In 2006, a jury convicted smith of child sexual abuse making him a felon and a sex offender. But this month, a judge overturned that conviction thanks to his daughter's testimony. Six years ago smith says "My daughter was coached to say specific things which later led to me being prosecuted."

Then the appeals came. he tried to prove his innocence, nothing seemed to work. Then this year, he met attorney Joe Basgier who started working on the case. Basgier says there was no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony. "We had his daughter seen by a psychologist to whom she re-canted. She said this didn't happen. I didn't tell the truth when I took the stand."

The now ten year old girl also told a judge her story during a hearing December 7th. The testimony ultimately overturned her father's conviction. Since, Smith has had one supervised visitation with his daughter.

"I think it was probably the strongest hug I've ever had. but it was a great day for both of us."

Joe Basgier says "to have a child get on the stand in court under oath and tell an open court room that her great grandmother coached her to lying like this is horrifying and I think her great grandmother need to be held accountable."

But Lena Reeves insists she never coaxed the child. "I'm not guilty of nothing except loving her and cherishing her." A court has ordered reeves not to have any contact with her great granddaughter. Even still, Reeves continues to believe smith molested his child. "She said my dad hurt me and she was just between 2 or 3."

Court documents show a pediatrician who treated her testified in the first trial that there was no physical evidence of abuse. Now smith is making up for time lost with his family. "It's a wonderful feeling. I'm married to a wonderful wife, I have a five month baby girl and just to have hope in getting my family back together, it makes me extremely happy."

Smith is now trying to get custody of his daughter who is living in a foster home. Basgier says many people in this situation are falsely accused.. and says there needs to be safeguards to better protect the innocent.

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