The Innocence of Ajay Dev

Patty Pursell receives the Vanguard Justice Award on Saturday night
Patty Pursell receives the Vanguard Justice Award on Saturday night

By Patty Pursell

(Editor’s note: This was the speech delivered by Patty Pursell in accepting the Vanguard Justice Award for her work on behalf of Ajay Dev)

I cannot thank David Greenwald enough for starting the Judicial Watch and for bringing to the forefront some of the problems that need addressing in our current legal system.

I represent over 1,000 Advocates for Ajay who believe that Ajay Dev was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 378 years for molesting and raping his adopted daughter. People ask us, how can you be certain Ajay is innocent?

The crimes of rape usually have no witnesses, they typically are just he said, she said cases. Ajay’s case is different because there are many people with first-hand knowledge.

His accuser claims to have been raped approximately 750x over the course of 5 years. She claimed some of these rapes happened while other people were present.

  • His accuser claimed that Ajay raped her while Peggy, her adopted mother slept in the same bed. Peggy testified that it never happened.
  • His accuser claimed to have been raped while sleeping over at her aunt and uncle’s house. Both testified that she never ever slept at their house.
  • His accuser claimed to have been raped while sleeping in the living room with her cousins. Both cousins verified that there is no way this could have happened since they slept shoulder to shoulder with her.

Mention here how some people may not believe the family, but that the list goes on and on.

  • His accuser claimed she was raped while staying at family friends’ homes. These friends testified that it could not have happened based on how small the house was, the fact that all the bedroom doors were open, and that one adult was awake all night with medical issues.
  • His accuser testified she only had sexual relations with Ajay, yet, her boyfriend testified they had sexual relations at least once a week.
  • His accuser testified that Ajay never used contraceptives and that he raped her 750x, yet her only pregnancies happened in a very narrow time frame and coincided perfectly with the time she had sexual relations with her boyfriend.
  • His accuser claimed she didn’t bring young men to the house when her parents were working, yet the neighbors testified that she did and would close the curtains when they were there.
  • His accuser claimed naked pictures were taken of her and put on Ajay’s computer, yet none were ever found anywhere

His accuser claims she was raped approximately 750x — 3x per week for 5 years, yet no one saw any signs of emotional or physical trauma.

  • Her medical doctor who did 9 exams saw no signs of trauma,
  • Her social worker who did a full psychoanalysis saw no signs of trauma
  • Her teachers so no signs
  • Friends and family saw no signs

How can that be? A person who is raped 750x would surely show some signs of trauma. Keep in mind her doctor, social worker and teachers are mandated reporters and never reported anything.

During those 5 years there were hundreds of private emails and texts between Ajay and his accuser and there was no incriminating evidence in any of them. How can an abusive sexual relationship have gone on for 5 years and nothing shows up in any private communications? His accuser also had her own cell phone, email, and used social media. She had access to talk with whomever she wanted, yet no incriminating evidence showed up anywhere.

Now you might be wondering why would someone make up a story like this? Why these accusations? She came to the US from Nepal with Ajay and Peggy for a better education and job opportunities. Things didn’t go as planned. She failed classes, lost her job, hooked up with the wrong crowd and problems grew bigger and bigger. Her relationship with Peggy and Ajay deteriorated, and she was afraid that they were going to send her permanently back to Nepal. These accusations were her way of stopping that. Later when she visited Nepal for her sister’s wedding, she was found guilty of passport fraud and falsifying her birth certificate. She could not come back to the U.S. Ajay’s case then became her ticket back into the U.S.

At this point you are probably wondering why Ajay was convicted and sentenced to 378 years? Good question. The investigating detective never talked to any family members, friends, teachers, doctor or anyone that knew Ajay and his accuser. He just accepted her word—even when she contradicted herself. Jurors even claimed in a blog after the trial that his accuser’s testimony, “was difficult to swallow.”

The detective did try to entrap Ajay and get him to confess by having his accuser make a pretext phone call. Throughout the 50-minute phone call Ajay directly denied the allegations 27 times. Because Ajay and his accuser are fluent in both Nepali and English the conversation was in both languages. In English, the conversation is clear and easy to understand, but the Nepali translation is very confusing. Unfortunately, the court never provided the jury with a certified transcript done by a court certified translator. Instead, the court allowed his accuser to be the translator for the Nepali portion and instructed the jury to rely on her translation for that part of the transcript.

During an inaudible portion of the tape in which Nepali was spoken, his accuser conveniently inserted a clear admission of sex by Ajay. The defense did have a translator testify. The expert stated the inserted admission of Ajay’s guilt done by his accuser was not possible because he could hear the first letter of the word; which was clearly “a hard K sound”. No word in Nepali that means sex begins with that sound. Unfortunately, this testimony came 7 weeks after the transcript was read to the jury.

Tonight is about prosecutorial misconduct, something Ajay also experienced. During closing arguments, the prosecutor, Steve Mount, told the jury that he saw Ajay pass a note to his lawyer during the preliminary hearing in which Ajay admitted his guilt. This was strongly objected to by the defense, but was overruled by Judge Fall. Of course, there was no note with an admission of guilt, but the jury heard Steve Mount tell them there was. It was terrifying to watch a paid servant of the people blatantly lie to the jury about a made up admission of guilt in a letter that didn’t exist. This misconduct is captured in the court transcripts, and is discussed fully in Ajay’s appellate brief—claim #8. You can read the entire appellate brief on www.seekingjusticefortheinnocent.com .

Steve Mount spent the majority of his closing arguments dissecting the pretext phone call. Throughout his closing arguments Steve Mount spoke in the first person as if he was Ajay Dev, and Ajay did not testify. While speaking as Ajay, Mount injected made up thoughts and motives into the conversation. He even inserted admissions and words of guilt into the call that did not exist.

Until Ajay’s case, we believed the justice system was about seeking the truth of the matter. Unfortunately, we have come to realize that there are a few people in the legal system that care more about winning cases than the truth. Our hope is that the work done by the people in this room and organizations like David Greenwald’s Judicial Watch will stop the attitude that has caused wrongful conviction.

If you want to learn more, please go to www.seekingjusticefortheinnocent.com where we have put the appellate brief and response brief on line. Or go to www.advocatesforajay.com to get some background information. David Greenwald has done many articles about Ajay’s case and how he came to realize that Ajay Dev is innocent.

Ajay’s case is in the hands of the appellate court now. Ajay has been in jail for 5 years awaiting the appeal process. In all that times he has been denied the opportunity to hug his two young sons, ages 4 and 6. In fact, he has never been able touch his youngest son since he was born months after Ajay was convicted.

Advocates for Ajay have marched many times, demonstrated, petitioned, written hundreds of letters and given interviews on radio, tv and in newspapers on his behalf. We would welcome any support or suggestions you can give to get this innocent man back home to his family.

Thank you David for the recognition in honoring us tonight, and I thank you, the audience for your patience and allowing us to tell our story.

See also the press release by Advocates for Ajay: here

Video of David Greenwald’s award presentation

Patty Pursell’s speech

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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13 Comments

  1. Fight Against Injustice

    Thank you David for bringing this clear and concise overview of the Ajay Dev case to the public.  People need to speak up when something like this tragic wrongful conviction happens.  It is the only way to fix the problems that exist in our current legal system.

    Thank you for speaking up and educating the public about this tragedy.

  2. The Grapevine

    There are more and more cases of wrongful convictions coming to light each year.  Although there are several reasons for wrongful convictions, prosecutorial misconduct is more widespread than people would believe.  I believe in large part that is because there is no accountability for prosecutors.  If anything, they should be held to a higher standard.  Without the work of organizations like the Innocence Project and the Davis Vanguard, and the citizens (Ajay’s supporters) to speak out against these injustices, those who are sitting in prison for crimes they did not commit would not have hope.  Most wrongfully convicted men/women do not have resources once they are incarcerated, and getting anyone to listen post-conviction is just about impossible.  The work that these groups, and others like them, is critical to the restorative justice process.  It simply cannot happen without those willing to take on the fight.  Every citizen should be outraged over the issue of prosecutorial misconduct.  When you read some of these cases, it is evident it could happen to anyone.  Imagine, because someone wants to win a case at all costs, your freedom is taken away.   Thank you David for your continued efforts in leading the way in the Davis community.

  3. hpierce

    Just curious… is the young lady in question still in the US?  If, not, I’d opine that that particularly if Mr Dev is exonerated, she never be allowed to visit the US again, and NEVER be allowed residency NOR citizenship.  An “undesirable”.

    1. Fight Against Injustice

      hpierce,

      She is living in the US.  Two months after she came back to this country she met a man on the internet and married him.  He is not a citizen.

      She has become a US citizen. The Violence Against Women’s Act gives citizenship to a person who has been abused by a US citizen. This may be how she achieved citizenship.

      She has achieved her ultimate goal while a good man is sitting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This should not be allowed to happen in our country.

       

      1. macdon1

        I met the this family before Ajay’s conviction.  Since then I have come to know them and their friends well.  They are some of the finest and most decent people I have ever met.   Of all the journalists and media, only David and the Vanguard have consistently offered the family and the advocates the chance to be heard.  This entire case is the most outrageous travesty of justice I have ever seen.  Outright lies and misconduct have prevailed at every turn and incredibly carried the jury to a conviction despite so much of the case just completely defies logic and reason.  Ajay and his family have suffered enormous losses both materially and emotionally which can never be restored but at the very least this completely innocent man should be found innocent on appeal and released.

      2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

        The Violence Against Women’s Act gives citizenship to a person who has been abused by a US citizen. 

        I’m about 99.73% convinced this is false. I’ve searched a good bit and can find nothing to substantiate your claim. That does not disprove your assertion. But I think it is likely you have confused the rights given to the spouse of an abuser under the VAWA with the supposed victim in this case. Here is the substantive rules under VAWA which apply to spouses and other family members of a convicted abuser:

        http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/battered-spouse-children-parents

        The Immigration Law Resource Center has a summary of VAWA in this respect:

        “VAWA allows an abused spouse or child of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident or an abused parent of a U.S. Citizen to self-petition for lawful status in the United States, receive employment authorization and access public benefits benefits. VAWA provides domestic violence survivors with the means that are essential to escaping violence and establishing safe, independent lives. ILRC has co-authored the VAWA Manual, a 13-chapter step-by-step guide to VAWA to assist advocates working on VAWA cases.”

        If, as you state, this person has been given U.S. citizenship, and it was not by an ordinary provision of U.S. immigration law, what strikes me as more likely than filing under VAWA would be that, due to the nature of this case and the nature of her home country, the U.S. determined that she would be in danger if she returned to her homeland and therefore granted her asylum and she has subsequently qualified for citizenship.

        Nevertheless, I will happily stand corrected if you can show the VAWA language you have asserted.

  4. Themis

    Steve Mount spent the majority of his closing arguments dissecting the pretext phone call. Throughout his closing arguments Steve Mount spoke in the first person as if he was Ajay Dev, and Ajay did not testify.

    Steve Mount, told the jury that he saw Ajay pass a note to his lawyer during the preliminary hearing in which Ajay admitted his guilt. 

    It seems to me that Steve Mount knew he didn’t have a case, so he lied and cheated to get the win. He should  have to switch places with Ajay Dev. Judge Fall is no better here, how could he allow such blatant misconduct in his courtroom? We should wonder how often judges just look the other way when it happens.

  5. Miwok

    Later when she visited Nepal for her sister’s wedding, she was found guilty of passport fraud and falsifying her birth certificate.

    Did the Dev’s have anything to do with this part of the story? Was the “adopted daughter” a part of the family?

    A Scary story for sure.

  6. TrueBlueDevil

    What a travesty. A few quick points.

    1. A lawyer friend says that when someone lies under oath – even one lie – it taints everything else. This is why she stresses, even if there is unflattering information, tell the truth. She has a chilling way to put it, something like “the tree is poisoned”.  And here she clearly repeatedly lies.

    2. “The court” allowed the accuser to translate the recording. I assume this means the judge, and I’d sure want him off the bench. This is Logic 1A.

    3. Isn’t there some kind of requirement that the investigator interview witnesses for the accused? This makes me wonder if there was some political setup to make the DA or Police Chief look good.

    4. Is the payback for testifying public knowledge? A new passport and visa?

    5. Why didn’t  the judge himself rule a mistrial, and have the whole case retried?

    6. Prosecuting attorney – is he up on charges?

    7. This troubled teen and apparently innocent man make me think about the recent middle school teacher who was accused by a troubled teen.

    Thank you to David and the Vanguard for covering this troubling case.

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