Jennifer Del Prete wrongfully imprisoned for nearly a decade thanks to junk “science,”
suppression of evidence to convict her in phony daycare abuse scare
ROMEOVILLE, IL – A woman who was the victim of a sensationalist scare about alleged predatory daycare workers a decade ago is suing Romeoville police and “experts” who fabricated scientific findings and suppressed exculpatory evidence to wrongfully send her to prison.
Jennifer Del Prete was a mother of two and childcare worker with over a decade’s worth of experience in 2003 when she was falsely accused of murdering an infant who was in her care. Romeoville police withheld evidence of doubts about accusations of abuse raised by Dr. Jeff Harkey, a forensic pathologist at the DuPage County Coroner’s Office, and full medical reports that he requested were withheld from him.
Romeoville police also ignored the findings of the physician who treated the child, who indicated that the child had suffered head trauma before the time period that it was in Del Prete’s care. Instead, they partnered with a physician, Emalee Flaherty, who was building a career based on partnering with law enforcement to falsely target babysitters and licensed child care workers for alleged abuse.
According to the suit, “…without conducting any physical examination of I.Z., Defendant Flaherty authored a report with fabricated scientific findings the I.Z.’s injuries were unequivocally the result of child abuse, specifically shaking, and that those injuries must have occurred while I.Z. was in Plaintiff’s care.”
As a result of misconduct by Romeoville police and Dr. Flaherty, Ms. Del Prete served nearly a decade in prison for an alleged crime she did not commit, missing much of the childhood of her own children, who were ages 7 and 15 at the time of her imprisonment.
Del Prete would have continued serving her 20-year were it not for a Freedom of Information of Act request filed by journalism students at the Medill Justice Project at Northwestern University. The FOIA revealed a heretofore suppressed letter written by one of the police defendants, mentioning that medical professionals had doubts about the abuse accusations. On August 29, 2016, the Circuit Court of Will County vacated Del Prete’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial.
A copy of today’s suit, Jennifer Del Prete v. Village of Romeoville, et al., #17-cv-06145, can be found here. Ms. Del Prete, her family and attorneys will speak at a 2:30 pm, Thursday, August 24 press conference at the office of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, 311 N. Aberdeen Street, 3rd floor, Chicago.
Ms. Del Prete is represented by attorneys Jon Loevy, Arthur Loevy and Heather Lewis Donnell of the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, and Jodi Garvey and Patrick Blegen of Blegen & Garvey. Loevy & Loevy is one of the largest civil rights law firms in the United States. It has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country over the past decade. Blegen & Garvey is a criminal defense law firm with over thirty years of experience successfully representing their clients in both federal and state matters.