Felony rape charges against a Mason man were dismissed Wednesday in what prosecutors call a case of “human error.”
Orlando O. Allen, 18, faced two first-degree felony counts of rape after he was supposedly indicted by a Warren County grand jury on Feb. 15.
But Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said his office received notification Tuesday that the grand jury, which submitted paperwork to his office returning the indictment, actually voted not to indict Allen. He declined to say how his office received the tip.
“The minute we got information there may have been a mistake with respect to the grand jury report, we hopped to and began investigating and did the right thing,” said Fornshell.
The right thing, in this case, Fornshell said, was to secure Allen’s release and dismiss the charges.
Allen, who’d been held in the Warren County Jail on a $100,000 bond since his arrest on Jan. 21, was released around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The charges stemmed from a Jan. 20 incident in which investigators say Allen and a 14-year-old male compelled a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct “by force or threat of force” while at a party in Mason.
Rape charges against the juvenile, whose case was not presented to the grand jury, were also dropped Wednesday in Warren County Juvenile Court, said Fornshell.
“There was enough commonality that based upon the fact that the grand jury did not indict (Allen), I did not feel comfortable proceeding against the juvenile based on the information we had,” he said.
Fornshell says he has “no immediate plans” to re-file the charges, unless his office receives additional evidence that would materially change the case.
While prosecutors have no way of knowing when snafus like this occur — grand jury proceedings are secret and confidential — Fornshell says he believes this to be a rare occurrence.
“Nobody in my office could ever recall a situation where you had a grand jury submit incorrect paperwork. I’ve talked to people who’ve been in prosecutor’s offices for 30 years and they’ve never heard of anything happening like that,” he said.
Fornshell said he is looking at ways his office can ensure check and balances, such as having staff members cross-check information.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever forget this case,” he said.