120725StoneJuly 25, 2012

“The terms of (Shelley Stone’s release on $342,000 bond) included an order to stay out of downtown Edenton so she would not run across any children – or parents of children – who had attended Little Rascals.

“One exception came two years ago, when she was allowed to attend her daughter’s high school graduation.

“Stone and her family live in Tyner, a few miles outside Edenton. They receive public assistance.

“‘I’ve had people say to me point blank: “Gee, Shelley, I would hire you, but I’m afraid I’d lose customers,”’ Stone says. ‘Now, when you can’t a job within 30 miles, that’s bad.’

“Prosecutors say they still have not decided whether to try her on 12 charges of sexual abuse, which could mean life in prison. Meanwhile, she waits….

“‘It’s been going on for seven years. Is it going to go on for another seven years, or 10 years or 20 years? Am I going to die with this still going on?…

“‘I worry every day. Are they going to come and say, “We’re going to take you to trial now”?’”

– Adapted from the Associated Press, Sept. 23, 1996

Three months later the state dropped all charges against Stone (and Robin Byrum and Darlene Harris).

As in other Little Rascals cases, Nancy Lamb attributed the dismissals to  concern for the child-witnesses and to limited resources in the DA’s office, not to any belated recognition of the defendants’ innocence. “We didn’t bring charges in 1989 and 1990 thinking that these people weren’t guilty,” she told the AP. “Why would we do such a thing? We had enough evidence all along to convict all three, or we would not have brought charges.”

But Lamb needn’t have been too disappointed. After all, how many juries would’ve rendered harsher punishment to these three innocent young women than the seven years of torture the state inflicted?