Country of Arrest: Philippines
Charged with: Rape
Arrested: April 7, 2011
The California Innocence Project represents Scott McMahon alongside a team of legal and political experts coordinated by the David House Agency.
Scott McMahon is a United States citizen who was wrongfully imprisoned in the Muntinlupa City Jail in the Philipplines from April 7, 2011 to August 2, 2016. Delores San Pablo Vermeulen accused Scott of rape. However, there was ample proof that Scott was a 10 hour drive away from the scene of the crime as it was allegedly taking place.
Delores’ motivation for the false accusation against Scott was to retaliate for a lawsuit Scott brought against Delores for harming Scott’s son. Not long after Scott’s arrest, Delores’ friend visited Scott and told him Delores would agree to drop the charges if Scott would agree to withdraw the lawsuit and pay her 5 million pesos ($125,000 USD). Nine additional attempts at blackmail occurred over the next three months.
Scott’s case in sum:
- Scott McMahon and his family were 10 hours away from the crime scene when it occurred.
- Delores had a motive: she was facing charges of child abuse for bursting into the McMahon home with police during a raid to find her estranged husband, traumatizing Scott’s son.
- Delores was known to lie both in government documents and to her family members.
- Delores had asked Scott McMahon for money on more than a dozen occasions in exchange for the charges getting dropped. In addition, she had asked Scott to drop his child abuse charges against her.
Scott asked for bail on the day of his arrest. It wasn’t until September 22, 2014, almost 42 months after his arrest, that the court finally considered the bail petition. The court denied the petition and improperly accepted all of Delores’ false allegations, not taking into account the ample evidence placing Scott 10 hours away from the scene of the crime. Likewise, the court failed to acknowledge Delores’ motivations and blackmail attempts.
The California Innocence Project partnered with The David House Agency, an international crisis agency managing Scott’s case, in an effort to bring him home. CIP interviewed numerous witnesses in the case. Additionally, CIP met with Scott and observed one of his many inadequate court hearings. Unfortunately, the Filipino court system is such that a defendant has no speedy trial rights, no due process rights, and no right to reasonable bail. On the contrary, defendants often only appear in front of the judge every few weeks, and only for 20 minutes at a time. The result is a piecemeal trial with endless delays and cancellations due to changes in the prosecutor and the judge. Scott was not afforded the ability to bail out and assist in his own defense. Instead, he languished in poor prison conditions, an innocent American in a broken and corrupt system.
Thankfully, on August 2, 2016, the court acquitted Scott McMahon of all charges and declared him innocent. He was released from jail shortly thereafter.