Posted on Sun, Dec. 15, 2002

Is the wrong man behind bars?

Dec. 15, 2002

Fifteen people named as victims or witnesses in one of North Carolina's largest child sex abuse cases now say the assaults never happened or weren't committed by the man serving life in prison for them.

In 1990, at least 19 children, ages 5 to 12, told school counselors and police horrifying stories about being grabbed, fondled or raped, mostly in woods near Monroe's Icemorlee Street Apartments. Four other children were named in court as eyewitnesses.

James Bernard Parker, an admitted thief and robber, was convicted in the four cases that went to trial and was sentenced to three life terms plus 60 years. The only evidence that tied him to the crimes was the children's testimony. Police say there was no DNA or other physical evidence.

Now the reported victims and witnesses are 18 or older. In interviews with The Charlotte Observer, most tell stories dramatically different from what jurors heard more than a decade ago. The accounts today raise questions about Parker's guilt, and whether others committed sexual assaults but were never charged.

"If I said it, God forgive me. But that man never did that to me," says Curtis Moser, 20, who testified at two trials that Parker raped him.

In the past four months, The Observer interviewed 18 of 23 people who claimed to have been victims or were identified in court as witnesses to attacks. Two declined to be interviewed. The Observer was unable to locate three others.

The newspaper also examined court, detective and defense attorney files and interviewed reported victims' families, police, lawyers and jurors, as well as legal and child sex abuse experts.

The Observer found:

 Fifteen of 18 reported victims and witnesses interviewed say today that the sexual assaults didn't happen or that Parker didn't commit them. That includes seven who as children identified Parker as the attacker.

Reasons vary for why the stories changed. One boy was called a hero for fighting off an attacker with a bat, and he says he went along though it never happened. At least two others say they made up accusations to be like friends. Several say they were young and confused about questions they were asked.

One of the 18 still says Parker sexually assaulted him, though a person he claimed saw the attack denies it. Two others say they can't remember what happened.

 Two of the three reported victims who testified at Parker's 1991 trials have changed their stories significantly. One now says his reported assault at age 7 never happened. The other says he wasn't sexually assaulted when he was 12 and doesn't remember another attack he testified to -- the rape of a 5-year-old boy.

The third reported victim who testified against Parker declined to be interviewed. His mother says she believes Parker raped her son, who was 8.

Four people named as eyewitnesses in trial say now they never saw a sexual attack. None testified.

 Jurors never heard the widely differing descriptions of the attackers, or children's initial conflicting stories, gathered by school counselors and police in dozens of interviews.

Nine reported victims and witnesses initially told police or school counselors at least one of their attackers was white. Records show one girl said she was attacked by a white man, then within a week identified Parker, who is black, from a photo lineup.

Four reported victims and witnesses described two or more attackers. Two children told stories about child prostitution rings; two talked about poisoned ice cream.

Legal experts say at least some of this information should have been considered exculpatory, tending to cast doubt on the defendant's guilt. Prosecutors are required to share exculpatory evidence with the defense, but it's not known whether they did. The defense attorney, who says he doesn't remember what information he received, never introduced such evidence.

Juror Ray Terry, 53, says the children's testimony convinced him of Parker's guilt. He adds that the verdict might have been different had jurors heard about children describing attackers who looked nothing like Parker. "But, we could only rule based on what was put in front of us," Terry says.

 Police should have done more to find other attackers, say some reported victims and their families.

A brother and sister, who said a white man raped them, say police didn't ask many questions or show them a photo lineup.

"They made like they couldn't do nothing," says the sister, 18, who asked not to be identified. "So I put it in the past and moved on. ... I would like justice."

Former Monroe police Detective James "Sonny" Rogers says he talked briefly with a white man who claimed he saw Parker try to rape a child. The man had red bumps on his face, a description given by three children of their attacker. But the man said he wouldn't testify and Rogers didn't question him further.

"I should have taken him in and locked him up," says Rogers.

He says he showed white lineups to many victims, chased dozens of rumors, then finally had to give up. "Did we get everybody? No."

 Parker's court-appointed attorney didn't ask the judge for permission to hire a state-paid investigator.

"That was probably a mistake," Robert Huffman says. His records show he did little investigating himself.

Records also show the defense never subpoenaed or questioned three people named as eyewitnesses in trial, who say now they saw no sexual attacks. Huffman did subpoena one other reported witness who says today he saw nothing, but deputies couldn't locate him at the time of the trial.

Legal experts say most general practice attorneys such as Huffman don't have the time or expertise to defend such a complicated child sex abuse case.

 Some experts question whether school counselors were qualified to conduct dozens of interviews with children and to assist police and prosecutors as they built their case.

A school official today says counselors now would report the children's claims to police, but wouldn't take part in the investigation.

Also, since the early 1990s, researchers have learned it's easy to ask children questions that suggest answers. The Observer found no complete records that might indicate whether counselors, police and others asked leading questions.

One written summary does say a counselor asked a 6-year-old if he had been "touched in his private places." Experts say that question is leading. It can introduce the child to the idea of being touched.

If interviewed properly, children can be tremendously reliable, says Cornell University psychologist Stephen Ceci, who co-authored "Jeopardy in the Courtroom: A Scientific Analysis of Children's Testimony."

But in his analysis of several high-profile sex abuse cases of the '80s and early '90s, Ceci found many examples of interviewers asking leading questions and failing to consider more than one hypothesis. Given what's known today, much of the work done in those years was horrendous, he says.

In some ways, the Monroe case is similar to other large-scale child sex abuse cases of that time that have since been discredited, experts say.

Typically, suspicious adults would start questioning children. Rumors would spark panic. Children would tell widely different stories. Investigators would have almost no physical evidence that abuse had actually occurred.

But the Monroe case also is unusual, says Dr. Charisse Coston, a UNC Charlotte associate professor of criminology who specializes in sex abuse. About 95 percent of pedophiles assault children they know. When pedophiles do assault strangers, the attacks can be extremely violent or even deadly.

In Monroe, police focused quickly on a relative stranger, 29-year-old James Parker.

A criminal past

Police knew Parker, a day laborer who was functionally illiterate, because of a conviction 13 years earlier for a crime against nature.

At 16, Parker began serving a 21/2-year term as a youthful offender for having sex with a pony. He denies that, saying he was playing with friends and he and two others abused the pony with a fishing pole.

Parker was convicted between 1980 and 1988 in North Carolina and New York for a string of crimes: petty larceny, robbery, breaking and entering a motor vehicle, and trespassing. His record showed no other sex convictions.

He returned to Monroe from New York at Thanksgiving 1989, fleeing robbery charges, which are pending. Parker and others say he often visited friends in the Icemorlee apartments area, then moved in with a family friend about May 13 -- five days after children first reported being sexually assaulted.

He was noticed. Several residents remember him walking to the store or the mailbox wearing a red robe.

Rumors started. Children talked at the school bus stop about a man hiding in the woods.

"All of a sudden, you hear this guy's name. `Oh, James Parker, he's in the area and he rapes children,' " says one 21-year-old woman, who at age 9 claimed Parker raped her near Icemorlee. She agreed to be interviewed only if her name were withheld.

Now she says she made up her sexual assault to be like others who said they were raped: "It was just like getting on the bandwagon."

Where it began

The 98-unit Icemorlee Street Apartments -- named for Iceman, Morrow and Lee, once owners of a nearby cotton mill -- is the largest federally subsidized housing project in Monroe, about 25 miles southeast of Charlotte.

Children there had many playmates, a nearby baseball field and basketball court, and woods to roam. Though it has been cleaned up since, the area also was known for crime and men who drifted in and out, say police and prosecutors from that time.

Children began reporting rape and molestation to school counselors in May 1990, records show, the same year as two of the nation's largest and most publicized child sex abuse cases.

In Edenton, about 300 miles northeast of Charlotte, the owners of the Little Rascals Day Care Center would go to trial in just weeks in a case involving seven defendants, 29 children, 429 charges and bizarre allegations -- a spaceship, hidden tunnels, burned babies and a house that walked.

In Manhattan Beach, Calif., the McMartin Preschool trial, which involved a dozen children and 65 indictments, had ended four months before. It was the longest, most expensive criminal trial in the nation's history and included stories of flying witches, dead babies and animal mutilation.

Ultimately, no one was convicted in the California case. Five Little Rascals defendants saw their convictions overturned or charges dismissed. Two others were sentenced to time served and released. At issue in both cases was reliability of child and expert testimony.

Phil Griffin, a lawyer with N.C. Prisoner Legal Services, a Raleigh-based group that helps prisoners with legal services, says that from the early 1980s until the mid-'90s, the country went through "a Salem witch trial period" regarding child sex abuse.

Faulty assumptions existed about the credibility of children's testimony and about medical findings in child sex abuse cases, he says. About the guilt or innocence of the accused of that time, Griffin says, "I don't know how you sort them out."

A child reports

The Monroe case started with a 6-year-old boy at Benton Heights Elementary, according to police files. A school counselor's notes dated May 8, 1990, say he was touching girls inappropriately and telling them he wanted to "make love."

School counselor Kathy Tomberlin called him in. Notes quote the boy as saying, "A man named `Curtis' takes boys and girls to the woods to `do it.' " He used dolls to demonstrate sex acts. It happened to him once, he told the counselor. It also happened to many of his friends, he said.

Within two weeks, at least 14 more children told Tomberlin and counselors at two other Monroe elementary schools that they had been raped, fondled or had witnessed attacks, according to counselor and police records. Two teenage girls told police that Parker, while wearing a red robe, had exposed himself. News accounts said 47 children eventually were questioned.

Tomberlin had interviewed children and worked with police in a similar case a year earlier.

In December 1989, David Williams, then 29, of Monroe was accused of abducting children and raping them under his house. He was sentenced to life in prison for raping a 9-year-old girl. Charges involving seven other children were dropped in a plea agreement.

Counselors Tomberlin -- now Kathy Cooper -- and Gayle Polk declined to be interviewed for this article. Both interviewed children who claimed they were assaulted at the Icemorlee apartments, wrote summaries of their talks and testified in court.

Experts question whether school counselors, even those such as Tomberlin and Polk with master's degrees in social work or counseling, were properly trained to interview so many children in such a complex case.

Detective takes over

Rumors of attacks circulated widely.

One mother, who lived in the area and drove a school bus, began hearing stories: "I told them, `I don't want to hear that on the bus.' "

Most of the children told counselors and police that crimes took place in woods about 30 yards from the apartments, many near a makeshift plywood clubhouse.

Sonny Rogers, then 32, in his second year as a police detective, was assigned to investigate. Rogers, 6 feet 5 inches tall and 340 pounds, was good with children, co-workers say, and worked in schools with an anti-drug program.

He was one of five or six Monroe detectives who investigated everything from homicides to fraud.

Rogers testified he took over the case in mid-May, about a week after school counselors began interviewing children.

Now retired from the police force and a Baptist church pastor, Rogers says he sat in on many school counselor interviews. He said a few children cried: "I felt the load of what the kids were saying."

He wrote more than a dozen police incident reports, he says, most of them at least a week after the interviews, relying on notes and memory. He says he should have documented more of his investigation.

Rogers says he was bombarded with rumors. But his only evidence was the children's stories.

"There was no blood, no semen, no DNA. We had nothing," he says.

Monroe's current police chief, Bobby Haulk, says he would call for the State Bureau of Investigation's help on such a complex case now.

Rogers recalls asking for more officers. He didn't get them.

Still, he remembers thinking, "I can do this, I can handle this."

Also in late May, Monroe police were finding other child sex abuse claims in the neighborhood that they say were unrelated.

Authorities showed a photo lineup containing Parker's picture to a 6-year-old girl who said she was raped at the Icemorlee apartments. She pointed to a picture of another man, her uncle. He's now serving a life sentence for raping her.

They also arrested a man accused of raping his 10-year-old stepdaughter at the apartment complex. The case was dismissed when the prosecution's witness didn't appear. The man was convicted of raping the girl three years later, after the family moved to South Carolina.

Naming a suspect

Rogers doesn't remember how or when James Parker became a suspect. He thinks he may have heard the name while canvassing the Icemorlee neighborhood.

Retired police Capt. Reid Helms, then Rogers' supervisor, says he remembered Parker's crime against nature conviction and suggested him.

"It sounded like something he would do."

Parker and relatives say he moved into the Icemorlee apartments about May 13 to help family friend Sutreana Frazier with her three children, ages 8, 2 and a newborn.

She and other Parker relatives and friends say he was fine around children. "I'd trust him with my kids, but not with my money," says Donna Carter, Parker's half-sister.

Parker says he, too, heard rumors about kids being attacked. When he learned the rumors focused on him, he went to police twice, on May 17 and May 18, to say he'd done nothing wrong, he says.

About that time, some 15 adults and children saw Parker in the neighborhood and chased him.

"There was a kid in the group who said, `That's him,' " says Michael Eddy, 43, then an Icemorlee apartments maintenance worker. "We had rocks and bottles ... . He cut down a road and we lost him."

Frazier, 43, also remembers her next-door neighbor saying, "You better get James Parker out of here. He did something bad to some kids."

On Friday, May 18, she says, someone threw a rock and dented her screen door. Parker says he moved out that day.

That's also the day, court and police records show, that an 8-year-old boy riding in a car with his mother spotted a man walking at Icemorlee. The boy said that man had attacked him. That day he became the first child to point to Parker's picture in a photo lineup.

On Sunday, May 20, days after Monroe police began investigating, they arrested Parker.

By Monday, at least eight more children had picked him from a photo lineup.

A letter dated that Monday, May 21, was addressed to parents and signed by school counselors Tomberlin and Polk. It's unknown how many were sent. The letter read:

"As you may know by now, there has been trouble in the Icemorlee neighborhood with men molesting young children. Based on interviews with your child, we have reason to believe your child may have been molested by one of these men."

Attorney believes Parker

Robert Huffman says he always believed Parker wasn't guilty. But he knew it would be a difficult case to win, given his client's limited intelligence, the testimony of children and emotional nature of the reported crimes.

Huffman, then 57, was a UNC Chapel Hill Law School graduate who had worked for a Monroe law firm as a general practice attorney from 1961 to 1975. Then he opened his own practice, doing everything from real estate to criminal defense work.

A 1987 book by two Harvard Law School graduates praised him for work in family law, one of 23 Charlotte-area lawyers chosen in various specialties. In 1999, Huffman won a governor's award for volunteerism, for defending clients who couldn't pay.

Appointed to defend Parker after two other attorneys refused, Huffman says he also had to give attention to other legal work.

"Considering all the other oranges I had in the air, I'm sure I didn't spend as much time on the Parker case as I should have," Huffman says. "I think I performed well, but there were other lawyers here at the time, including me, who could have performed better had they had more time."

Huffman tried to get prior statements of several reported child victims, which would have shown inconsistencies, documents indicate.

According to court records, he requested school counselor interviews for one boy whose case was not on trial. The prosecutor said he didn't intend to call the boy to testify and a judge denied the motion.

North Carolina's laws regarding prior statements, which are more restrictive than some other states, say prosecutors don't have to hand over prior statements to the defense unless the witness testifies. One exception is exculpatory statements. The Observer did not obtain this boy's statement, so it's not known if it might have cast doubt on Parker's guilt.

Huffman also tried to subpoena statements made to school counselors by eight reported victims and one reported witness, court records show. Four had described white attackers or assaults by more than one man.

Experts say prosecutors should have given many of the children's statements to the defense as exculpatory evidence, required by federal law. The lead prosecutor won't comment. Huffman doesn't think he got those statements.

"I would like to think that if I had that information, I would have used it," Huffman says.

The children's prior statements were never presented to jurors.

"The very notion that people were identifying a white man and that was not turned over to the jury ought to be legal grounds for a new trial," says UNC Chapel Hill law professor Richard Rosen.

First trial

Ten of the 19 Monroe children who claimed they were sexually assaulted near Icemorlee eventually identified Parker as the attacker, according to police and school records. A judge and grand jury found enough evidence to try him in seven cases.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Williams, then 26, prosecuted the cases.

Now a District Court judge, Williams declined to discuss much about the case.

But he did say the reported child victims "were consistent in their stories. They had picked Parker out of a lineup, and consistently told their stories to school counselors and police and me."

Prosecutors decided to try one child's case first, then three others in a second trial. A common strategy is to try the strongest case first.

In the first trial, which started Jan. 22, 1991, Parker was charged with raping an 8-year-old boy. He pleaded not guilty.

The boy told a jury he went into the woods on Feb. 9 or 10 looking for friends. Instead, he saw a naked man.

The boy answered Williams' questions with few words.

What did he look like? "He had a box (haircut)."

Was he black or white? "Black."

Did he say anything to you? "He told me not to holler or he would hit me with a bat."

The boy said the man raped him, then threatened to kill him and his mother if he told. He didn't tell anyone for three months, until a school counselor called him in. He pointed out his attacker in court -- Parker.

Other evidence included a medical report dated May 16, noting the boy showed signs of "possible forced anal sex." He tested positive for chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease.

A medical expert in child sex abuse, however, says the rapid test probably used then had a serious risk of false positives. It's not known if a more complicated but reliable culture test was performed.

Sexually transmitted diseases are rarely found in abused children, says Dr. Desmond Runyan of the UNC School of Medicine. In 25 years of working with such cases, he says, he's never seen a sexually abused boy with a proven chlamydia diagnosis.

Parker, who signed a waiver to be tested, was negative for chlamydia on May 29, 1990.

The reported victim in the case, now 21, wouldn't talk to The Observer.

Two other children, Louis Bennett and Curtis Moser, testified they also were sexually attacked at Icemorlee and identified Parker. The prosecutor offered their testimony to show a "common scheme," a pattern of behavior that supports the victim's story.

Bennett and Moser now say they were never sexually attacked.

In court, Bennett named three witnesses to his attempted rape. All three told The Observer they didn't see any such assault.

The trial lasted four days. On Jan. 25, after deliberating two hours and 11 minutes, the jury found Parker guilty of raping the 8-year-old boy. Superior Court Judge William Helms sentenced Parker to life in prison.

Second trial

Four months later, on May 20, 1991, Parker was in court again. He pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting three boys, including Moser and Bennett.

Again, Moser testified Parker raped him. Bennett said Parker attempted to rape him.

The third alleged victim was a boy, 5 at the time of the reported assault, who attended special education classes and didn't testify. His father now says he doesn't think his son was raped. Bennett, the only witness who testified to it, says now he doesn't remember seeing it.

In the first trial, defense attorney Huffman called seven witnesses; in the second, 12. He questioned whether the children could have had a clear view of an attacker. Family and friends also testified that they trusted Parker around their children. Parker's employer testified the accused man was working on some days the attacks reportedly occurred, usually until about 4 p.m.

Parker testified he'd never seen the children before and had never assaulted them.

The jury in Parker's second trial deliberated one hour and 57 minutes on May 23 before finding him guilty in all three cases. The late Superior Court Judge Julia Jones sentenced him to two more life terms, plus 60 years.

Days later, charges were dropped in three other sexual assault cases and the indecent exposure case.

Huffman billed the state 79.3 hours for preparing and defending Parker's probable cause hearing and first trial and 46.6 hours for the second trial. That included parts of nine days in court. He said he probably worked more hours but never filed for them.

Robert Page Stewart, the second trial jury foreman, says he was persuaded by the children's identification of Parker and especially testimony from the younger boy who was "real, real shy and timid."

Told that the younger boy, Curtis Moser, now says his attack didn't happen, Stewart says: "He might be wanting to put that out of his life."

Children surprised

Moser remembers testifying in court at age 8. But he recalls identifying Parker only as a man he'd seen in the woods. He thought he was testifying about what other children said had happened, he says.

Trial transcripts show Moser told two juries that Parker raped him.

Moser now says he saw Parker in the woods, but there was no sexual assault. Like most other reported victims and witnesses interviewed by The Observer, he says he never learned the outcome of Parker's trials.

"(Parker) couldn't have been convicted of raping me, because he never raped me," Moser says.

He and others deny changing their stories because of the stigma of being sexually attacked.

"I wouldn't want someone to be locked up for doing something to me when I know they didn't do it," Moser says.

Michael Clark, now 21, remembers testifying in a pretrial hearing. He said he witnessed a rape, then pointed to Parker as the attacker -- even though he now says he had never seen him before. Parker shook his head no, Clark says.

He says others told him Parker molested children and so he pointed to Parker, too.

Sasha Covington, 20, remembers rumors about Parker wanting to "get" kids. She heard that a boy had fought off Parker with a bat. "I never saw it with my own eyes, so I didn't believe it," she says.

Shown a summary of a May 9, 1990, school counselor interview in which she said a man named Curtis took her into the woods and sexually assaulted her, she shook her head.

"I might have said that, but I know nobody touched me," Covington says. She adds that she was 7 then, a child, and may simply have repeated what she heard from other kids.

Louis Bennett, court records show, may have given the most damaging testimony against Parker, because he was the only eyewitness to testify in two cases.

As a 13-year-old, he testified to two juries that Parker attempted to sexually assault him. He also testified to the rape of a 5-year-old boy. Parker was convicted of both crimes.

Bennett, 25, told The Observer he believes a man fitting Parker's description chased and grabbed him in the woods. He says he was afraid, but nothing sexual happened.

Bennett says he has trouble remembering. He doesn't recall seeing Parker rape the 5-year-old.

In trial and today, he says a friend, 10-year-old Monta Mayhew, used a bat to fight off Parker.

Mayhew now says he never used a bat on anyone or saw Parker assault anyone. "Why didn't they have me in court if he (Bennett) said that?" Mayhew asks.

What might the recantations mean? Experts say there's no conclusive research.

Police, lawyers and some jurors have wondered if the Monroe children's recantations are rooted in a desire to block out painful memories. That's possible, experts say.

Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, a University of California, Irvine, psychology professor, says, "I'm not used to seeing so many recantations."

Children "recant for all sorts of reasons," says Loftus, who specializes in memory and suggestibility. "One is that it never happened."

Stands by story

A 13-year-old boy testified against Parker in trial, but not before a jury. He talked to police eight days after Parker's arrest.

He's the only one of the 18 reported victims and witnesses interviewed by The Observer who says today that Parker tried to rape him.

"I feel like he got what he deserved," says the man, now 25, who asked that his name not be used.

In 1990, he saw Parker on TV and recognized him as the man who tried to sexually assault him three times, he testified. Two other men helped Parker in two attacks, he said. Each time, he said, he got away by kicking, hitting or cutting them.

Twice in court testimony, he named a friend who he said saw the men grab him and tried to get help. That friend told The Observer he had heard that Parker had assaulted younger children, but never saw anything.

What's next

The N.C. Court of Appeals rejected Parker's arguments that the jury didn't have access to a transcript of testimony and that his constitutional rights were violated.

Parker started writing attorneys, newspapers and national news shows for help.

In 1999, one of his letters ended up with the Innocence Project at Duke Law School, now under the guidance of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence.

The center's executive director, Pete Weitzel, says his group suspects Parker could have been wrongfully convicted because prosecutors presented no physical evidence linking him to the reported crimes, and the children's accounts contained significant inconsistencies. The center has found an attorney to review the case.

Weitzel's group is part of a national movement to examine wrongful convictions that began in the early 1990s, spurred by wider use of DNA evidence.

In recent years, more than 60 inmates nationally have been exonerated based on DNA testing. Law schools and other groups have set up innocence project programs to review prisoners' claims.

Also, I. Beverly Lake Jr., chief justice of the state Supreme Court, last month convened the N.C. Actual Innocence Commission. The group, which includes a prosecutor, law professors, judges and police, will consider ways to prevent convictions of innocent people and more quickly free those who have been wrongfully convicted.

Though Lake doesn't think the problem is widespread, he notes that "if one person is wrongfully convicted, it's a travesty."

In Parker's case, legal experts say, remedy through the courts would be difficult.

A defendant can file a motion for appropriate relief, which generally addresses a wider range of issues than appeals. That motion could ask for several steps, including ordering a new trial or setting aside the conviction.

A judge can hear such a motion or dismiss it without a hearing. Such motions are rarely granted in North Carolina.

Defense attorney Huffman says of all the cases he's tried, this one bothers him most. He hopes Parker at least gets a new trial.

"I thought from the beginning that James Parker did not do what he was accused of," Huffman says. "I just could not disprove it."

Former Detective Rogers says he still thinks Parker is guilty, but is bothered that so many children recanted. "The question is, were they lying then or are they lying now?"

He says he'd like to see someone get to the truth.

"I would find it troubling in any case where a man goes to prison if he got there based on lies."

James Parker, now 42, has been imprisoned for more than 12 years. He'll be eligible for parole at age 97.

He's worked as a janitor at the Wayne County Correctional Facility, earning $2.80 a week. He says he shoots pool, reads Westerns and does math to prepare for an upcoming general equivalency diploma course.

Parker says he's never sexually assaulted anyone and doesn't know why the children accused him.

"I'm a criminal," he says, "but I'm not a monster."

Told that many of those who once accused him of sexual assault have now changed their stories, he says he's not angry.

"I don't harbor no bad feelings toward them or their families," Parker says. "I would tell them to just be careful in the future, because the same thing that happened to me could happen to them.

"They could be accused of something they didn't do and then look back on it and know where I'm coming from."