It could be weeks before Scott Dean finds out if a judge will grant him a new trial.
Scott Dean’s 19-year-old adopted daughter testified in a Friday hearing that her allegations of child molestation against him were false.
“It was a lie,” Silda Dean said from the stand at the hearing. Seeing her adoptive father now in prison for the crimes is difficult, she said. “I feel sad. Sometimes I feel bad too, because he’s innocent.”
The former Columbia County commissioner, accused in 2010 of inappropriately touching Silda, was in the courtroom petitioning for an extraordinary motion for a new trial.
Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. agreed to take the request under consideration. He’s expected to make a decision as early as a few weeks.
In December 2011, a jury convicted Scott Dean on two counts. Blanchard sentenced Dean to 20 years in prison in January 2012. He’s currently being held in Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Ga.
“It’s been nearly three years of a nightmare,” Dean’s wife, Renee, said of the time since Oct. 2011 when the allegations were made public.
Renee Dean said she’s not happy with the result of the hearing, but that she’s proud of her daughter, who “held her head high and told the truth.”
“Of course, we’re disappointed it wasn’t an immediate exoneration,” Mrs. Dean said. “But it’s hopeful.”
Silda Dean, who was removed from the Dean home and moved into a foster home in late 2010, said she made the allegations because she didn’t like Renee Dean. The Deans adopted Silda Dean and her four siblings from Guatemala in September 2008.
Silda Dean told a state Department of Family and Children Services social worker in July 2012 that the allegations were a lie. That social worker testified Friday that she told her supervisor and the issue was discussed with local and state DFCS legal counsels. Nothing was ever done with the information.
“The fact that this information would just be held down is astounding,” said Scott Dean’s attorney, Pete Theodocion.
In January of this year, Silda Dean told her foster mother that she made up the allegations against Dean to get away from Renee Dean and get out of their Harlem home.
She wrote a letter that she mailed to her adoptive mother and to Theodocion in February, explaining that her previous testimony was a lie and that Scott Dean is not guilty of the charges that he was convicted of.
“It was hard for me to say something that wasn’t true,” Silda Dean said. “I got confused and I didn’t know what to do.”
Blanchard denied a motion for a new trial June 2012 and the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld that decision in May.
“We know it is not easy to come in and get a new trial after the fact,” Theodocion said.
“This was not a fair trial. ... It is very rare that we have the opportunity to right a wrong like this.
“A jury has the right to know. A jury has the right to know the full story.”
Theodocion said the request for a new trial meets the six requirements to have a new trial granted based on new evidence.
Assistant District Attorney Madonna Little argued and cited case law that a victim’s recantation is not cause for a new trial. And any new evidence coming forward cannot be to impeach a witness post-trial.
A victim recanting a story can’t be used as reason for a retrial, causing a constant and unending pressure on victims.
“If there was no finality, there would always be the thought that if we can get our victim to recant, we can get our conviction overturned,” Little said.