Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has pardoned a man serving life in prison for sexually abusing his 6-year-old stepdaughter.
Bevin issued the pardon Friday (11/22), saying that Paul Donel Hurt was wrongly convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and sodomy in Louisville in 2001. Hurt’s accuser recanted her testimony at a hearing in 2015, but the conviction stood.
Circuit Court Judge Audra Jean Eckerle ruled the recantation was inconsistent. She also expressed concern because the trial judge in the case had communicated with Hurt and the victim after retiring from the bench. Eckerle says the trial judge “altered” the victim’s memory and testimony “by using judicial coercion and intimidation.”
An appellate court later upheld that ruling.
Hurt was released from the Kentucky State Reformatory on Friday (11/29).