HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii man who spent eight years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit is speaking for the first time after being freed.
In 2003, Roynes Dural was convicted of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s daughter. There was no physical evidence against him.
During the time of the allegations, Dural was on active duty in the Navy and on deployment.
Ken Lawson, co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project, said Dural was the victim’s scapegoat — the man she blamed to cover up secret sexual relationships with her stepfather and a school employee.
Just weeks after Dural’s conviction, the 14-year old married the school employee, who was 26 years old at the time. He has since admitted that Dural did not have a relationship with the girl and apologized.
The girl’s mother also recanted her testimony.
“You think about what happened, why it happened it," Dural told Hawaii News Now via FaceTime.
Dural was visiting family on the mainland when he was told that the long battle to clear his name was won. "It shouldn’t have happened to you so you just kind of go through the cycle,” Dural said.
Lawson gave him the news.
“He let out a yell and he cried,” Lawson said, as he also broke down, “You become close to these guys who you’re helping.”
Dural spent eight years in prison of a 20-year sentence.
In 2010, Honolulu prosecutors offered him a plea deal. They wanted him to plead guilty to a lesser charge and he would be immediately granted parole.
Dural said he refused to admit to a crime he didn’t commit and was sent back to his cell.
“That was the longest walk, back to his cell,” Lawson said.
Dural was granted parole one year later.
“It was worth the wait,” he said, “I had family members who said, say anything to get out we want you home, and I said I can’t do that.”
Despite the witnesses recanting, the city Prosecutor’s Office still hasn’t decided if they will retry the case or drop it.