A man in San Antonio was officially exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned for eight years during the Satanic Panic in the United States, where thousands of unsubstantiated cases were made.
"San Antonio man wrongfully convicted in 1991 has charges dismissed in Satanic Panic case": https://t.co/JovSyIvCrk
— Colin Miller (@EvidenceProf) April 11, 2023
Last April, Judge Christina Del Prado of the 227th District Court dismissed the case against Melvin Quinney, who was accused of indecency with a child in 1990.
“It’s like the beginning of the end of a very long nightmare,” Melvin Quinney said regarding the hearing that made his acquittal official.
Because Melvin was exonerated, his conviction has been dropped, and his name would no longer be included in the state’s sex offender registry. His case is among several cases of Satanic Panic that gripped the United States in the 80s and 90s, where innocent people like him were accused of either running Satanic cults or performing Satanic rituals without any substantial evidence.
Melvin’s case started in 1990 when he and his wife were going through a divorce. During their divorce, his wife accused him of leading a Satanic cult and murdering people as part of their rituals.
His now ex-wife contacted the authorities, and their children, John and Sarah, were taken by Child Protective Services and interviewed by law enforcement officers and therapists for several weeks.
Sarah and John started developing false memories of Satanic ritual abuse (SRA) and occult rituals after weeks of coercion and manipulation from their mother, therapists, law enforcement officers, and other adults. In particular, John came to believe that his father sexually abused him and his sister, Sarah, and committed murders as part of his satanic rituals.
Melvin was arrested in 1991, and John’s testimonies were used against his father during the trial. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was later freed after serving eight years.
However, Melvin’s ordeal did not end with his release. He had to register as a sex offender and had no contact with his children. John and Sarah’s false memories of him leading a Satanic cult and performing occult rituals persisted into early adulthood.
After years of hesitating to contact his children, Melvin posted a photo on Facebook asking his children to reach out to him. Matthew, Melvin’s youngest son, saw the post and got in touch with him. He was only a few weeks old when his father was imprisoned for the false accusations.
With the help of the Innocence Project of Texas, John, now an adult, returned to the court to testify, this time to admit that the accusations he threw against Melvin were false and to help him clear his name.
The Innocence Project of Texas said Melvin Quinney is a victim of the "Satanic Panic" hysteria of the 1990's.
— WFAA (@wfaa) April 11, 2023
The Conviction Integrity Unit of the District Attorney in San Antonio took up the case and concluded that Melvin was wrongfully convicted.
“I admire Mr. Quinney and his family so much for sticking with him and pursuing justice, truth in his case,” Mike Ware, executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas, said. “I also really respect the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in the way they handled this case.”
Now that his conviction has been overturned, Melvin hopes that, with the help of the compensation owed to him by the state, he can finally move on and live closer to his kids and grandchildren in Dallas.