James Ford was convicted in Rockbridge County, Virginia, on January 5, 2010, of sex offenses against a child under the age of 13. James pled not guilty and still maintains his innocence to the present day.
Only two weeks before receiving these convictions, James was actually tried and acquitted of such charges (involving the same parties) before a jury of his peers in the neighboring city of Buena Vista, Virginia - acquitted after the same witnesses testified, and before the very same judge.
The alleged victim was the daughter of James' then-girlfriend. She was 17 years old when she first raised allegations that supposedly occurred a decade earlier, when she was 6-11 years old. James has always denied the charges and maintains his innocence, believing the teenager fabricated events to remove James from her mother's life after she learned that James and her mother were planning to marry - a union which the seventeen year old vehemently opposed.
Mr. Ford was first charged and tried in Buena Vista, Virginia, with (1) sexual battery of a child under the age of 13, (2) indecent liberties and (3) sexual battery of a child while maintaining a supervisory or custodial relationship. The charges were brought in Buena Vista (at the alleged victim's residence) although she also claimed an incident occurred at James' residence in Rockbridge County.
On December 22, 2009, James was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court for the City of Buena Vista. At the conclusion of the evidence, and upon motion to strike, the trial judge dismissed one charge, and the jury then acquitted James Ford of the two remaining charges.
Incredibly, James was quickly re-arrested and re-prosecuted (and this time convicted) in Rockbridge County just two weeks later, utilizing the same witness and before the very same judge and for similar alleged conduct against the same teenager, but now such conduct supposedly having occurred in Rockbridge County (at his residence) rather than at the alleged victim's residence in Buena Vista.
This Rockbridge County quasi-double jeopardy proceeding turned into a marathon endurance test - keeping jurors from leaving for nearly 16 straight hours, from morning until essentially the next day. That exhausted, over-extended jury convicted James on January 5, 2010.
After his conviction, James filed a compelling motion for a new trial, when a former co-worker of the alleged victim came forward and testified that the alleged victim had recanted; that the alleged victim told her co-worker (around the time of the commencement of judicial proceedings against Mr. Ford) she wished she had never made any allegations, but now had to go through with them or get into legal trouble if she changed her story. The Rockbridge County court denied Mr. Ford's motion.
James is now serving a 45-year sentence, until 2054, when he will be 84 years old, solely because these convictions occurred under such fundamentally flawed and unfair circumstances. He received what amounts to a life sentence after one jury had already acquitted him of harming anyone.
James Ford may be the only inmate in the Commonwealth of Virginia incarcerated for crimes against a specific victim after having been acquitted of essentially the same/similar crimes against the same victim, all within fourteen days, and before the same judge.
James Ford's pardon petition was filed in the Governor's Office near the end of December, 2016.