Eric Nordmark, a college dropout, psychologist’s son, and former U.S. Army mortar man from Wisconsin, was freed Jan. 26 after spending eight months in jail in Garden Grove, Ca., on a false charge of child molestation, reports the Los Angeles Times. On the second day of his trial, a 12-year-old girl who was his principal accuser admitted that the attack never occurred; it was a hoax concocted by her and two friends of similar age as an excuse for getting home late from school.
Last May, the 36-year-old drifter when he was handcuffed by a police officer at a southern California strawberry festival. Police had interviewed three girls who said they had been attacked, and Nordmark matched the description. His defense attorney, David Swanson, said that police interviewing them in a group may have allowed them to coordinate their stories.
Swanson also criticized police for not shuffling the order of suspects’ mug shots before each girl viewed them. At each viewing, Nordmark’s picture was the fifth in the series of six. U.S. Department of Justice guidelines for conducting photo lineups encourage police to “consider placing suspects in different positions in each lineup.”
City officials support police handling of the case. The girls, said Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater, are “100% to blame.”