- Indecency With A Child
- 20 Years
Melvin Quinney was convicted in 1991 of indecency with a child and sentenced to twenty years in prison for a crime that never happened. The case against Mr. Quinney was based solely on the testimony of his son, John, who was nine years old at the time of the arrest. Years later, John came to realize the “memories” of abuse and Satanic rituals were the result of the influence of therapists and other adults.
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, conspiracy theories about cults committing child abuse spread around the U.S. The phenomenon became known as the Satanic Panic. Fears were fanned by sensationalist news programs and talk shows, and a cottage industry developed of social workers, therapists, and law enforcement officials specializing in the supposed ritual abuse of children. The belief that Satanic ritual abuse was rampant in America led to people like Melvin being imprisoned for crimes that did not occur.
For the Quinney children, coercive and suggestive interrogation by therapists, child protective services staff, and law enforcement convinced them well into adulthood that their father was the leader of a Satanic cult who had abused them. Many years later, Melvin and his children reconciled as they came to terms with the fact that all of them had been victimized. In 2021, Melvin’s children reached out to Innocence Project of Texas for help to clear their father’s name.
IPTX is working with the Bexar County DA’s office to exonerate Melvin. An evidentiary hearing was held on the case in June of 2022. During the hearing, the judge heard testimony of Melvin’s innocence from John (the alleged victim) and his sister Sarah, and experts in psychology, child abuse, and moral panics. The judge is expected to make a recommendation in the coming months to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on whether Melvin should be exonerated.
You can hear details about his case on season two of the podcast Conviction. The podcast explores the Satanic Panic through the lens of Melvin’s conviction and its impact on his children.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.