A 71-year-old Lake County man who has spent 18 years in prison for a child molestation that his accuser now denies he committed has been ordered to be freed.

Luther Jones, who had nine years remaining on his 27-year sentence, was ordered on Tuesday to be released after District Attorney Don Anderson told the court he no longer believes Jones was guilty.

Jones was convicted in 1998 based on the testimony of a 10-year-old girl, the daughter of a woman who was his former girlfriend and who was battling Jones at the time for the custody of another child. The witness, now 30, came forward last week and recanted her testimony, Anderson said.


“In essence, she said her mother invented this,” Anderson said. “She said she was told to go to school and tell the school officials she was molested. She obeyed her mother.”

The false account, said Anderson, “had been eating at her for several years.”

Jones has been in poor health and is being treated at San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton, Anderson said. He is believed to be suffering from diabetes, liver and kidney ailments. Anderson said he did not know if Jones’ release from custody would mean that he would be able to leave the hospital.

“We want to get (Jones) released as soon as possible,” Anderson said.

Angela Carter, Jones’ attorney, said her client “may not be physically able to go out and enjoy his liberty but there must be a lot of enjoyment being vindicated.”

It was unclear if the girl’s mother, Elizabeth Woods, will face charges for forcing her daughter to lie.

Anderson said it was “hard to piece together things that happened 20 years ago.” Carter said she hoped the district attorney would investigate the mother, because “if she did what she’s accused of, it’s evil.”

During his 1998 trial, Jones denied the allegation and said the girl was lying because of the child custody dispute.

Anderson said there were “some irregularities in the girl’s condition” but no physical evidence of molestation and “very little corroborating evidence.” But the jury believed the girl’s account and convicted Jones.

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices
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