Family Demands Release of Man Cleared by DNA Test

James Bain
James Bain has maintained his innocence during 35 years in jail.
TAMPA (2009-12-10) -

James Bain been in jail 35 years for rape, but new DNA testing says he could not have committed the crime. Now, his family is calling for his immediate release.

Bain’s family and lawyers with the Innocence Project of Florida held an emotional press conference Thursday on the steps of the Polk County Courthouse.

They’re armed a new report that shows Bain’s DNA does not match that of semen found after the rape.

If he’s released from prison, James Bain would earn a dubious distinction – the man who served the most time in prison before being exonerated by DNA testing.

The Polk County man has asked for a DNA test for years, but it took the Innocence Project to convince a judge to allow it.

Bain never waivered in protesting his innocence. His sister Jacquelyn says his family is will help his rebuild his life, if he’s released.

“Thirty-five years of his life is gone, and he will never get that back. But we’re going to move on, and we’re going to be there for him, like he’s been there for us,” she said.

Bain was convicted in 1974 of raping a nine-year-old boy from Lake Wales, based mostly on the boy’s eyewitness testimony.

That’s not uncommon. According to the Innocence Project, 245 convictions nationwide have later been overturned by DNA testing. Witness misidentification contributed to 80 percent of those wrong verdicts.

Bain would be the 11th person from Florida to be exonerated by DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project.

His lawyers are planning to ask a judge to release Bain – possibly before Christmas.

It can’t come soon enough for Bain’s 77-year-old mother, Sarah Reed. She spoke outside the Polk County Courthouse about her long wait.

“I’ve been sick all that time. Mostly I’ve been sick because I’ve been worried about him so much,” she said.

“I didn’t think I was going to make this day. And I hope and pray to God to get him out, so I can still be here,” Reed said.

A spokesman for the Polk County State Attorney's Office says they’re reviewing the DNA test results, and may ask for more tests – a prospect that angers Bain’s family.

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