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Policy: Law

Mineral man's 2007 rape conviction vacated

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Local,Virginia,Crime,Law,State Courts

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — A judge has vacated the 2007 conviction of a Virginia man who was falsely accused of rape.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Jane Marum Roush said in her order that Edgar Coker no longer has to register as a sex offender, the University of Virginia School of Law said.

Roush also said in the order issued Monday that Coker's original defense was "not reasonably competent," the law school said Tuesday in a news release. Roush was appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia in 2012 to preside over the Stafford County case.

Coker's current legal team includes members of the law school's Innocence Project and Child Advocacy clinics, the JustChildren program at the Legal Aid Justice Center and the McGuireWoods law firm.

"Monday's long-awaited court order will lift the stigma and formal barriers to success associated with being on the sex offender registry, but it's worth remembering that no delete button can erase the hardship and humiliation that Edgar and his family have suffered for almost seven years," Angela Ciofli, legal director of the JustChildren Program, said in the release.

Coker was accused at the age of 15 of raping a 14-year-old girl in Stafford County. The Mineral resident pleaded guilty in 2007 to rape and breaking and entering after the prosecutor said he would try Coker as an adult and seek a lengthy prison sentence, the law school said.

Coker's accuser recanted and acknowledged the encounter was consensual after he pleaded guilty. Both families had since worked to clear Coker's name. He was released from juvenile detention after serving 15 months but was still on parole.

The Supreme Court cleared the way for Coker to ask that his conviction be vacated in 2012 when it overturned a Stafford County Circuit Court decision. The lower court had ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear Coker's request seeking relief from unlawful detention.

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