County of Conviction: Kern County
Convicted of: 17 Counts of Child Molestation
Sentence: 40 Years
Years Served: 20 Years
Released: May 4, 2004
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration: $900,000
John Stoll was convicted of child molestation in one of several infamous Kern County California sex ring prosecutions that took place in the mid-1980’s. He was convicted solely on the 1984 testimony of six boys, ages seven to nine. There was no physical evidence presented at trial.
After the California Innocence Project, along with the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law, took on Stoll’s case, they uncovered new evidence that disputed the boys’ testimony and soon were granted an evidentiary hearing. Six lawyers, a dozen law students, and an investigator spent hundreds of hours preparing for the hearings which took place from January to April 2004.
Four witnesses who testified against Stoll as children recanted their testimony. They admitted that the sexual abuse stories they told as children were lies and that law enforcement officials, social workers, and prosecutors coerced them into making false allegations against Stoll. At the conclusion of the hearing, Stoll’s conviction was overturned and he was freed after 20 years in prison.