'He couldn't have done it'
Locals backed Truscott all along

Fri, October 29, 2004

CLINTON -- For many people in this rural area of southwestern Ontario, Steven Truscott was never guilty. It was in this area where, in 1959, a 14-year-old Truscott rode on his bike, carrying 12-year-old Lynne Harper on his handlebars, waving to friends swimming in the cool water below.

"Those kids swimming in the water that day were always very, very adamant that Steven was innocent, that he could never have done it because he couldn't have done it," said Robert Cosford, 57.

Cosford was born and raised in nearby Seaforth, but went to high school in Clinton two years after Truscott was convicted.


Cosford was friends with youths who saw Truscott that day and has never doubted Truscott's innocence. "In fact, I've never known anybody who felt that he was guilty," said Cosford, who remembers signing petitions in support of Truscott in the early 1960s.

While most people in this area have an opinion on Truscott's controversial conviction, not everyone will talk about it.

"I think the younger you are, you think it's a travesty," said Laura Essex, 41, while sipping coffee at Clinton's Hometown Family Restaurant. "And the older people don't seem to want to talk about it."

Essex's friend, Sue Fanken, 41, said she's always been convinced of Truscott's innocence.

"But, the older folks around, I think a lot of them still believe he did it."

Marilyn Tyndall, 48, who runs the Crossroads, a book and gift store, said Truscott was convicted when people were more trusting of authorities.


"Everybody, back then, I think, assumed he was guilty," Tyndall said.

"I think people then wanted to believe the police was doing their job and the government was doing theirs. But there were some who always said he was innocent."

At Cosford's alma mater, Central Huron secondary school, teacher Dave Yates uses the Truscott case in his law class.

"It has become part of the myth and folklore of Huron County," Yates said.

"I think, just in terms of fairness, he deserved a retrial or hearing to have his name exonerated."

But Yates said Truscott's tragic case is only part of the story. "None of us should lose sight of the fact that a 12-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered," he said. "That's the ultimate tragedy."