EUGENE, Ore. — An Oregon woman who said she was raped and put a man behind bars for it may have been lying the whole time.
KEZI 9 News first brought you this story in July. The case has since been settled, and the man accused of rape is telling his side of the story.
The woman is from the Roseburg area. KEZI 9 News didn’t release her name before because she was still a rape victim. But a San Diego court has dropped the rape charges against Scott Espinosa, since Lindsay Peterson’s inconsistent statements have been exposed, though she may never be held accountable for her lies.
“Everyone in my family thinks I’m a sex offender. They think I’m a rapist,” said Scott Espinosa, who was wrongfully convicted.
That was back in July when a San Diego man tried to convince a courtroom he never raped the 23-year-old woman.
“There’s a bunch of guys in a room…There were 10 of them,” Peterson said in police interview.
Peterson also told San Diego police she was 14 years old at the time. We went to Glide and talked to her mother, Theresa, who says Lindsay is in her early 20s with three children.
“She likes to stretch the truth. She’s a meth user. She’s been for awhile. I’m not sure how long, and she’s homeless,” Theresa Peterson said.
The judge granted Espinosa a retrial after several holes in his accuser’s story came to light. A woman who was job shadowing Espinosa’s criminal defense attorney during the original trial says there were many inconsistent statements.
“She comes back, the second interview two days later where the prosecutor asked her about these 10 men. She said, ‘Oh, well, yeah, that never happened,’ she said. ‘I must have dreamed that,’” said Laura Wilson, licensed attorney.
Even months later, Lindsay’s mother caught on to the lies through conflicting conversations.
“In different conversations she would bring it up, and it was always a different story. That’s when I started questioning it. I said wait a minute I thought you said that they drugged you and this or that. ‘Oh no, no. We were partying and it got out of control.’ I said, ‘Lindsay, what did you do?’” Theresa Peterson said.
Whatever happened might never exactly be known. The judge granted permission for Espinosa’s new attorney and the prosecutor to fly up to Oregon and videotape an interview with the Peterson family, but the San Diego District Attorney’s office’s offered Espinosa a plea deal: plead guilty to a lesser charge of helping a prostitute and be set free or get a retrial.
Espinosa had already felt the system had failed him once, so he picked the plea deal. So it may be that Peterson is off the hook for her alleged lies.
For Espinosa, the damage has already been done. He served nearly 19 months in prison. During that time, his mother committed suicide. He says she was depressed over her son’s 35-year prison sentence.
“You know, my mom died thinking that I’m a rapist. You can’t give that back to me,” Espinosa said.
Shortly after taking the plea deal, Espinosa walked out of jail a free man. His dad was there to greet him.
KEZI 9 News was able to do this story with the help of our affiliate station in San Diego. We talked to the mother again after all this, and she believes Espinosa should have continued to fight. As for her daughter Lindsay, she says she talks to her here and there but never really knows where she is.