120523BeaverDec. 24, 2012

“Why prosecutors sometimes fight post-conviction evidence so adamantly depends on each case. Some legitimately believe the new evidence is not exonerating.

“But legal scholars looking at the issue suggest that prosecutors’ concerns about their political future and a culture that values winning over justice also come into play. ‘They are attached to their convictions,’ (says Brandon Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia), ‘and they don’t want to see their work called into question.’ ”

– From “The Prosecution’s Case Against DNA” in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (Nov. 25, 2011)

“Attached to their convictions,” indeed. Nancy Lamb was so attached that in 1996, after Bob Kelly’s 99-count conviction was overturned, she rummaged around the office and turned up yet another molestation claim – this one from two years before the Little Rascals arrests.

Gerald Beaver, Kelly’s attorney, pointed out that the law requires any report of sexual abuse to be investigated immediately and called police investigator Brenda Toppin, who testified that she had told Lamb about the claim in 1992. Lamb denied any recollection of Toppin’s comment.

“All of this ‘We care about the children’ kind of went down the drain after the conviction,” Beaver said. “It was only when (Kelly) successfully appealed and was no longer pulling 12 consecutive life sentences that the state felt compelled to go out and find this witness.”

As usual, however, time proved no object for prosecutors dedicated to making life miserable for Little Rascals defendants. It would be 1999 before they dropped the final charge against Bob Kelly.