In 2008 West Bloomfield police arrested Julian Wendrow for allegedly raping his 14-year-old autistic daughter. Now, three years later, the Michigan township insurance carrier has agreed to pay a settlement of $1.8 million to the Wendrow family and their attorney for a wrongful-arrest suit.
Following his arrest, Julian spent 88 days in jail and faced a maximum of life imprisonment. His wife, Thal Wendrow, was accused of allowing the sexual assaults to happen and could’ve incurred decades of prison time.
The only evidence against the Wendrows was a written statement from their daughter (who has the brain capacity of a 2-year-old) alleging that her father had been raping her since she was 7-years-old while her mother watched. The daughter wrote the statement through a method called “facilitated communication,” wherein a school aide helped the daughter type the statement on a computer.
Despite this written statement, several physical examinations showed no signs of abuse to the girl. When the case was brought to court, the daughter testified through facilitated communication. Her credibility quickly diminished when she could not answer even the most basic questions, such as the color of her own shirt.
With such unfounded evidence, the case fell apart in March 2008, three months after police arrested Mr. Wendrow.
“They nearly sent an innocent man to prison for life,” said Deb Gordon, the Wendrows’ attorney. “They pushed this thing in spite of literally having no evidence of any kind of abuse, other than this facilitated communication nonsense, which is in effect, a Ouija board.”
Shortly after Mr. Wendrow’s arrest, it was revealed that police tried to coerce a confession from the Wendrows’ 13-year-old son, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The interrogating officer claimed to have videos of Julian and his son sexually assaulting the girl. The detective later admitted to lying about obtaining said videos.
On Tuesday, January 11, it was announced that the Wendrows and their attorney will share a settlement of $1.8 million from the township’s insurance carrier. But it won’t stop there. The Wendrows are continuing their lawsuit against the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, and the Michigan Department of Human Services. In a cowardly move, these defendants cited governmental immunity and asked the judge to dismiss their case.
“This is a truly shocking story of police and prosecutorial overreach,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Especially with criminal sexual conduct cases such as this, prosecutors have an obsession with obtaining a conviction at all costs, regardless of the lack of evidence. The prosecutors and police officers involved in this case should be sanctioned and forced to pay a personal price for the grievous acts they committed. It is not right that they are allowed to hide behind their governmental titles.”