This story originally ran Sept. 21, 1997.
Here Is the text of a response from the Lorain County prosecutor’s office to questions from The Chronicle- Telegram about a lineup In the Joseph Allen-Nancy Smith molestation case:
The Lorain County prosecutor’s office, the Lorain Police Department and various law enforcement agencies have been receiving questions from your newspaper regarding the lineup in the Joseph Allen case.
Because most of the children did not pick Joseph Allen out of the lineup, it was not used at the trial in the traditional
sense. Traditionally, lineups generate incriminating evidence because victims are able to identify their assailant. The
victims did not identify Joseph Allen, as the state argued, because of the fear he placed in the victims.
The Lorain County prosecutor’s office disclosed the existence of the videotape of the lineup in discovery. The refusal to identify a suspect out of fear is not exculpatory evidence but inculpatory. The photo spreads are listed in the discovery as exculpatory evidence.
Based upon this, the lawyers representing both defendants had full opportunity to and did cross-examine the state’s witnesses concerning the identification of the defendants.
In addition, the status of the lineups was immediately disclosed to the jury early in the state’s opening remarks. (Transcript at Page 238.)
The total weight of the evidence concerning the identification as well as the other elements required to be proven
convicted Allen and led to the upholding of this conviction upon and after direct appeal.
A few of the facts that led to Allen’s charge and conviction which can be readily gleaned from the transcript and/or police reports are as follows:
Prior to Joseph Allen’s arrest, some of the children identified their assailant as “Joseph” (Transcript at Page 925) and one child said the assailant was called “Allen” (Transcript at Page 929).
Joseph Allen has physical characteristics described by the children prior to his arrest, including white spots on his body and scars with areas of little or no pigmentation consistent with the color of a white rather than a black male (Transcript at Pages 926-928), his manner of speech (drawl) (Transcript at Page 930) and the way he walks (shuffles) (Transcript at Page 930). All of these characteristics in common are very unique.
In spite of Allen living alone, his apartment was full of children’s things like children’s bed sheets, toys and stuffed animals. The children described similar items as being used by “Joseph” when they were abused, including a mask that lights up. Allen had one. (Transcript at Pages 933-939).
The children said that “Joseph” had threatened to come to their homes dressed like a woman and kill them if they told anyone what he had done to them. They described a picture that “Joseph” had shown them of an individual who had been killed by a gun.
Allen had a large dress (Transcript at Pages 931-932) and a similar picture in his home (Transcript at Pages 939-941). This evidence supported the state’s theory that at least some of the children did not identify Allen at the lineup out of fear.
The police report indicates that at least one child indicated that Allen had licked her “cat,” meaning vagina. Allen used
that term when referring to “vagina” during his polygraph.
Five adults linked Allen to the Head Start program in different ways. One even placed Allen on the bus. (Transcript at
Allen is a convicted child sex offender who used similar methods in the past (Transcript at 987-996). He holds birthday
parties for children in the bedroom.
Another factor that has been consistently overlooked is that Hazel Prinkney picked Nancy Smith out of a lineup as a woman who came to Allen’s home when she was there.
Both defendants in the Head Start case were convicted on reliable and credible evidence with full disclosure and discovery.
All the lawyers involved have raised the issue of suppression of exculpatory evidence.
No court at any level has found any merit to such a claim when the complete record is considered.
Editor’s note: Hazel Prinkney did not testify at the trial.