Raleigh, N.C. — A man who was pardoned after spending 18 years behind bars for a rape he didn't commit has been sued for child support for the years he was in prison.
Dwayne Allen Dail, 39, was cleared in August of the 1987 rape of a 12-year-old Goldsboro girl. The girl identified him as her attacker, and hair found at the scene was similar to his. DNA evidence found on a fragment of the girl's nightgown years after the trial proved Dail wasn't involved in the attack, however.
Gov. Mike Easley pardoned Dail two weeks ago, making him eligible to receive $360,000 from the state – $20,000 for each year he spent in prison.
Dail, who now lives in Florida, was served Tuesday with a lawsuit by Lorraine Michaels, the mother of his son, who is seeking back child support. The suit does not specify how much money she wants, as is normal in North Carolina, but asks a "reasonable sum for the care and maintenance of the minor child" for the years Dail was in prison.
"Since his release, Mr. Dail has not indicated any intention to provide support to Ms. Michaels," Michaels' attorney, Sarah Heekin, said in a statement. "In order to fully protect my client’s statutory rights, it was necessary to file an action for child support prior to the minor’s eighteenth birthday."
Dail said he was devastated by the suit. He said his son recently moved to Florida to live with him.
"I was thrown in prison. What could I do? I missed my whole life. I missed my son's whole life. I'm not the person to be compensating anyone for anything – not me," Dail said.
"I'm sure the mother had her issues over the years, but nothing like the issues that Dwayne Dail dealt with for 18½ years,” said Chris Mumma, the attorney who helped establish Dail’s innocence.
Heekin, who said she filed the suit last week, works in the same law office as Don Strickland, the former Wayne County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Dail for rape.