After the Brooklyn DA's office officially dropped charges against him, Francis Evelyn is speaking out. A 58-year-old janitor at P.S. 91 with no criminal history, Francis had been arrested on Monday after an 8-year-old accused him of molesting her in the school basement. He was arraigned and held on $150,000 bail, so Evelyn went to Rikers. But the next day, prosecutors asked for Francis to be released on his own recognizance because the girl's story started to seem inconsistent. And it turned out that the girl had made previous accusations of being abused. Yesterday, the prosecutors dropped charges due to "insufficient evidence."
Evelyn spoke to WABC 7 and WCBS 2 about what he's endured: Being hauled away from work (and in the glare of TV cameras) in handcuffs, being threatened at Rikers ("They were threatening me, and tell me they're going to take me out, they're gonna cut my throat. It's their sister, their niece. It was hell." "The Corrections officers -- they thought I was dirt."), and how going home was hard:
"When I got out Tuesday night, I couldn't even bring myself to go home. I knew cameramen would be out there. On the bus, a woman opposite me was reading the Spanish paper, with me on the cover. 'The rapist.' At first, I covered my head with my hat. But I'm not that man. I took my hat off, and raised my head."
Evelyn worries about the next time someone is falsely accused. His niece told the Daily News that her uncle was hurt badly and mentioned the accuser: "She has something going on with her life and my uncle had to pay the price for it. I hope the child gets the help she needs."
Evelyn's lawyer says he may file a lawsuit. In the meantime, the Department of Education is offering him his old job back. And on Thursday, the Times looked at the incident and said "it seemed likely to become a serious test of stricter requirements for reporting allegations of child abuse."