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Charges against teen dropped

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GREENFIELD — A rape case against a New Palestine teenager has been dismissed after prosecutors uncovered evidence the defendant was falsely accused.

James Layne, 18, was charged with rape and criminal deviate conduct in May after a female friend accused him of forcing her to perform sex acts and have sex with him on at least two occasions and threatening to “tell lies about her at school and ruin her reputation” if she reported the incidents, according to court documents.

But at a recent closed court hearing, a person Hancock County Prosecutor Michael Griffin described as a “key witness” in the case provided information that contradicted initial reports.

“We are dismissing the case because we now believe that no crime was committed,” Griffin said, adding that Layne maintained his innocence from the outset. “We do not believe that Mr. Layne raped the alleged victim.”

The witness statements were heard during a deposition, which is a closed court hearing intended to explore potential evidence to be used at trial.

“Criminal investigations don’t include statements under oath, and unfortunately, sometimes we find out late in the process what the statements under oath will be,” Griffin said. “That may be small comfort to an alleged perpetrator, but it’s how the system works. When we have a sincere person complaining, and the investigation indicates that the person is being truthful, … we have to take it for what the investigation says. Cases with he said/she said aspects are always difficult.”

Layne was 17 when the case was filed, but he was charged as an adult because of the nature of the allegations.

The case was dismissed Oct. 3, less than a week before it would have gone to trial.

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