Early in 2004, in bucolic Litchfield County, Connecticut, seventeen-year-old Jeremy Barney was arraigned on charges that he had raped, sodomized, and tortured a neighborhood family’s three children — an eight-year-old girl and her two brothers, ages thirteen and seven. According to interviews with the family, over a period of years Jeremy had beaten and burned the children, cut them with knives and glass, raped their pets as the children watched, and vowed to kill their parents if the children told.
Although Jeremy was a minor when he was arrested, he was encouraged to waive his rights, and was interrogated and polygraphed over the course of days without the presence of family or his attorney. Jeremy told detectives that he and the thirteen-year-old boy, friends for over a decade, had consensual sex on a number of occasions, Jeremy denied that he had forcibly raped his friend, and denied that he had ever sexually assaulted the other children.
Aside from the statements of the accusing family, however, no evidence indicated that Jeremy committed the horrors alleged. In fact, no evidence indicated that these events had ever occurred.
Despite allegations of dozens of rapes in every room the children’s home, police recovered no DNA or trace evidence from the crime scene: no semen; not so much as a single pubic hair.
According to the State’s own forensic medical exams, the children evinced no injuries consistent with the claims of years of violence. None of the children evinced broken bones, lacerations, or bruises. The eight-year-old girl’s hymen was still intact.
Jeremy’s parents were unable to afford a defense team commensurate with the charges against their son. In answer to three counts of first-degree sexual assault including the use of force, and three counts of injury and risk of injury to minors, Jeremy’s attorney entered pleas of “no contest.”
For the crime Jeremy never denied, engaging in consensual but illicit teen sex, Jeremy was never charged.
On 10 June 2005, the court proceedings lasted roughly an hour. Judged a conscienceless child rapist and torturer, Jeremy was sentenced to maximum-security prison for twenty years.
In the Spring of 2016, the Connecticut Innocence Project took Jeremy’s case.