CNN: Is Reese Hopkins Innocent?

CNN’s Rick Sanchez did a segment last week on Reese Hopkins (pictured, right), a former Boston-area radio talk show host who is charged with raping an 11-year-old girl in 2004 in the Manhattan apartment he shared with his fiancée. The alleged victim was a friend of his fiancée’s daughter. Hopkins has been imprisoned for 18 months, most of it on Rikers Island, on $100,000 cash bail.

We’ve covered this case on and off for 15 months, and I’ve spoken with Hopkins from prison. In Glenn Sacks eyes Reese Hopkins case (Boston Herald, 1/16/09), I explained:

I”m not going to declare [Hopkins] innocent and white as snow, but I think there are a lot of very tangible problems with the prosecution”s case that point to possible innocence.

My position is still the same, except that I now believe there is increasing reason to believe that Hopkins may be innocent.

Fathers & Families helped CNN’s producers put together their recent segment I didn’t rape anybody, and Sanchez (pictured, right) and CNN reporter Brooke Baldwin did a good job. Evidence pointing to Hopkins’ innocence includes:

1) According to the criminal complaint in People of the State of New York vs. Edward Hopkins (aka “Reese Hopkins”), “from September 1, 2004 to October 31, 2004 at 208 E. 90th St in the county and state of New York the defendant (Reese Hopkins) committed the offenses of Rape in the second degree (1 count) [and] rape in the first degree (1 count).” Yet Hopkins and his fiancée Claudia Tessler assert that they moved out of the apartment where the rapes allegedly occurred in June, 2004, moving from New York City to Manchester, Connecticut. Substantial documentation in our possession supports this claim. This includes:

a) A sworn affidavit from the sole proprietor of the apartment where Reese and his fiancée Claudia Tessler lived in which she states “Claudia Tessler and all those living in the apartment were vacated and handed over all keys to me on the 30th of June 2004. At which point I had the apartment painted and prepped for sale. I went into contract…with Halsted Properties on or around September 15, 2004. During the time in between the apartment was vacant and bare of any furniture or personal items.”

b) A letter from the exclusive broker for selling the apartment during the period of September 28, 2004 until the final sale in June, 2005 states, “During the period specified above until the time of sale I visited the apartment approximately twice a week, on average, to show it to prospective buyers and always found the apartment to be uninhabited, vacant and bare of any possessions/property.”

c) A copy of a lease Hopkins and Tessler signed in Manchester, Connecticut in June, 2004 which runs from June 2004 to June 2005.

d) A report card for Tessler’s son Ethan from an elementary school in Manchester, Connecticut for the fall semester 2004 to 2005 for .

e) Two dozen pages of bank statements for Hopkins and Tessler that indicate that both of them were using their bank cards regularly in Manchester, Connecticut throughout the second half of 2004.

2) According to CNN, there were no hospital records after the alleged rape. This is unusual, if, as the prosecution claims, Hopkins, a large adult male, raped an 11-year-old girl.

The CNN piece adds a couple more facts in Hopkins’ favor, including:

1) CNN offered the District Attorney the chance to give their side of the story but the only evidence the DA cited/produced was the simple fact that they had been able to get an indictment against Hopkins. This means little–as they say in the legal profession, “You can indict a ham sandwich.”

2) According to CNN, the District Attorney offered Hopkins a plea deal. The details of the deal indicate that they have little faith in their case. According to CNN’s Baldwin, “They offered last year this plea deal. They say, hey, Reese, you can get out of jail — essentially, it’s called time served — plead guilty to a lesser felony charge, walk out of jail today, but register as a sex offender. Or the alternative, stay in jail, go to trial, fight this thing. But if you’re found guilty, you could be spending up to 25 years in prison.”

Hopkins told CNN he would rather die in prison than plead out, explaining, “You don’t know how many times I thought about that plea deal, because it became more about waking up every day in a jail cell instead about what was right. And that’s what this place is built to do. Beat you down until you give in. Nobody hands you a deal like that if they believe that you raped a child. Who hands you a time-served deal?”

CNN’s Sanchez observed “[Hopkins] makes a heck of a point. If they really believe that he raped a child, why in the world would they be giving him this deal saying, you’ve done enough time, go ahead, you can walk? Something sounds a little fishy here.”

Watch the full segment here. To read the full transcript, click here.

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