A drifter jailed on an accusation that he molested two girls last spring in Orange County, Calif., was freed this week when the pre-teens admitted they made up the story because they were late getting home from school.
Eric Nordmark, 36, a homeless man from North Dakota, spent eight months in jail.
As his trial began last week, one of the girls admitted to her mother that the story was a lie, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Garden Grove officers were called to an apartment complex last May 16. Three girls, two of them 11 and one 12, reported they were attacked by a homeless man near a park.
Nordmark was picked up the next day based on their description. Two of the three identified him out as the attacker.
One of the girls cried on the witness stand last week, recounting the alleged attack in detail. That night, she told her mother it was a lie to escape punishment.
“Everybody was duped by these girls,” said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown.
Defense Attorney David Swanson said the case calls into question the investigative abilities of Orange County police.
“Cops are supposed to expect the unexpected,” Swanson said. “Now they are getting duped by 11-year-olds?”