Former Fort Worth officer convicted of rape exonerated

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A former Fort Worth police officer has been exonerated after spending 21 years in prison after being accused of raping a young girl.

Brian Franklin was sentenced to life in prison in the 1994 rape of a 13-year-old girl. He got out in May when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted him a new trial. That trial concluded on Friday with a verdict of "not guilty".

Franklin was granted a new trial when the court ruled that he was denied due process because his alleged victim lied under oath.

Two years ago in a 2014 hearing, the alleged victim admitted that she lied in part of her testimony but remained adamant that Franklin raped her.

Franklin’s family was there when he got out of prison in May and was in court on Friday when the jury in his second trial delivered a verdict of "not guilty.”

“I knew it was going to come,” the exonerated man said. “I wasn't surprised."

Franklin has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

“I had the trifecta against me: I was an innocent man, I was a former police officer and I was accused of raping a child.” He said.

The accuser was the daughter of one of Franklin's friends. Tarrant County prosecutors had no DNA evidence and only relied instead on testimony.

John Peterson, the accuser's stepbrother, feared testifying in the first trial but came forward about 10 years ago. He said she confided in him days after the alleged assault and said that she made it all up.

Peterson testified on Franklin's behalf this week and was happy to help clear Franklin's name.

"I can't imagine what he's been through. It's scary,” Peterson said. “It's scary that someone can just take somebody's word, and he can be locked up like that."

"If somebody knows something, say something,” said Darren McMunn, who testified for Franklin. “If you know of an injustice, come forward."

McMunn also testified on Franklin's behalf and said the girl's mother told him her daughter was lying.

Franklin is angry but said Friday’s victory overpowers those feelings for now.

"I'm not the first and I probably won't be the last,” he said. “When the system makes mistakes, they need to admit it."

Franklin wants to channel his frustration and use his experience in law enforcement and behind bars to help others who are wrongfully convicted.

"They came forward when they heard something or saw something or knew something,” he said. “Do the right thing."

Franklin's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, says he is exonerated under the law but wants to expunge the charge and will file a declaration of innocence.

DeGuerin says he will sue for damages. If Franklin is declared innocent, he can also ask the state for compensation from the wrongfully accused fund. People who are wrongfully convicted and have to spend time in prison can be paid but have to be found innocent first.

Calls to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office for comment were not returned. It’s unclear if anything will happen to the accuser in regards to the perjury.