Quantavius Brown was hoping to get a degree in accounting and business management when he was 21 years old. That all changed the night of August 3, 2018.
Brown was drinking at a local bar in Copperhill, Tennessee, when he met up with a woman he had met two years earlier, an acquaintance of his then-girlfriend. The two had previously been involved in a court case, and got into an argument about it, WRCB reported.
Later, the woman – who has not been named in media reports because female accusers are always protected, even if the accusation was false – told the Polk County Sheriff’s office that Brown raped her at her home after he forced his way inside. Police noted injuries on her face and a scratch on her neck as evidence of the alleged attack.
Brown was picked up by police officers and taken in for questions. He was never able to leave the Polk County Detention Center.
For the next three years, Brown awaited trial on charges of aggravated burglary, rape, and “retaliation of past action,” WRCB reported. His family was unable to afford the $500,000 bond to get him out of jail, and his trial was delayed due to the pandemic and changes in legal counsel.
His third court-appointed attorney, Tim Hewitt, got to work quickly.
“There wasn’t much work that was done before so immediately I realized we needed an investigator in this case,” Hewitt said, according to WRCB.
The investigator hired by Hewitt quickly discovered that the woman’s landlord and her son, both of whom lived in the same building as the accuser, were home the night of the alleged attack and rape but had not been interviewed.
The landlord told the investigator that she heard Brown and the accuser talking quietly before her boyfriend burst into the apartment.
“Up until that point, all we had was the state’s side and the state’s side was this one woman who was willing to lie,” Hewitt told WRCB.
Hewitt was able to uncover additional evidence that the woman had lied about the rape. Forensic evidence showed no signs of rape. In addition, the landlord said the injuries on the woman’s face were older than police assumed.
Brown was acquitted at trial and finally freed from jail.
“I consider myself blessed that the truth did come out in the sense of that. Yeah, I do,” Brown told WRCB.
District Attorney General Steve Crump, whose office prosecuted Brown’s case, told the outlet: “I do disagree in this case with their judgment but I totally respect it and appreciate their service. They did what they thought was the right thing.”
The outlet also reached to Sheriff Steve Ross to try to learn when the evidence that showed Brown was innocent wasn’t discovered by deputies. Ross declined to comment and instead told the outlet to speak to Crump.
“I don’t know that it would have made a difference in terms of whether or not the case was brought or how the case was handled prior to it but obviously it [interviewing the landlord] was something that had to be taken to account once it was received by us,” Crump said.
It should be noted that Brown is black, while his accuser was not, in a county with a 0.7% black population, though race was never mentioned in the case file.
After being released, Brown took a landscaping job and is hoping to return to school. He and his attorney are trying to get his record expunged.
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