Almost two years after being accused of rape in a case that left his personal life in shambles, Tyson Barrett Mann is now beginning to plan for the future.
Telling the court that “[e]vidence in this case has been compromised by subsequent inconsistencies in witness statements,” the Benton County District Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss the case on August 23rd against Mr. Mann.
Mann, who is now 22 but was 20 at the time of the allegation, served five days in jail before being released on bail. At the time of the accusations, he was in the final stages of joining the Navy, having a signed contract to enlist as a combat corpsman. This had been his career goal for many years. He was planning to enlist, serve a tour, and then become an officer while completing college.
Mann and his legal team criticized how Corvallis police handled the case from the beginning. They were shocked to hear a detective on a video tell his accuser that the reason the detectives video recorded her statements was to “defense proof” her case.
Mann’s Eugene attorney C. Michael Arnold said, “I was appalled when we watched the recorded interview of Tyson’s accuser and heard the detective at the very beginning of the video claim that he and the other investigators were defense proofing the case. However, that wasn’t the worst of it. We watched the video until the end, and then heard one detective ask the other if there was anything else she wanted to ask the accuser. I couldn’t believe they recorded this, but the detective said, ‘Not that I want on the record.’ Then the video stopped.”
Arnold continued, “Law enforcement succeeds when it seeks the truth with an open mind. These Corvallis detectives failed Mr. Mann and failed the system by making up their minds from the beginning. They failed to challenge the accuser’s ever-changing story even in the face of contradictory statements and materially different accounts by other witnesses. Any good detective knows that guilty people are more easily convicted when a professional, unbiased investigation is conducted with an open mind. In this case, the system broke down and cost Tyson Mann his freedom and reputation. This situation has and will continue to cost him substantial financial resources to return both to him.”
Mann’s legal team subpoenaed over 40 witnesses for the trial that had been scheduled to last two weeks beginning September 12, 2011. Many of these witnesses were present the night to incident was alleged to have occurred. Even with all of the potential witnesses, only two of the partygoers other than the accuser testified before the grand jury that indicted Mann.
Arnold said, “From the beginning, the accuser claimed that Mr. Mann carried her from a couch against her will into his bedroom. However, there were people sleeping near the couch and others that watched her walk in there on her own volition. And his roommate was sleeping on the top bunk 36-inches above where the consensual sexual encounter occurred. The ‘victims’ rights’ agenda has gone so far that basic common sense regarding human nature is thrown out the window. Thank God and thank our Founders for the jury system. No government prosecutor would want to try this case to a jury of twelve taxpayers.”
Records show that Arnold attempted to have a special prosecutor investigate the accuser for witness tampering after his investigation and cross-examination uncovered evidence that the accuser told a subpoenaed witness to change his story and corroborate his story with hers.
Arnold says, “We were shocked that the case wasn’t dismissed right then and there. We had a state’s victim telling our subpoenaed witness to lie. Then the accuser lied to the investigators about it. However, once we heard the witness interview, it all made sense. The detective actually told the witness that if Mr. Mann had done what she did, it would be a criminal issue. But since the detectives were ‘true believers’ instead of ‘truth seekers,’ no criminal charges were filed against the accuser, and Mr. Mann had to face another year of felony criminal charges and she was never held accountable.”
The accuser’s false allegations have had a catastrophic affect on Mann; his entire life was put on hold. He couldn’t enlist in the military with a criminal indictment pending. He couldn’t attend OSU because he was given an exclusion order once the indictment came down, which is currently pending a rescission due to the dismissal. And he couldn’t move back to his home state of California while the case was pending. “Basically I put my whole life on hold. I wanted a jury to hear this case last year. But we had subpoenaed her [the accuser’s] cell phone records and we hadn’t gotten them yet. We wanted the jury to hear all of the evidence. Not just the one-sided investigation by CPD.”
The harm to Tyson Mann goes deeper than his school and his career; Mann’s military colleagues, longtime employers, closest friends and family learned of the rape allegations through law enforcement and also through a news article posted in the Corvallis Gazette Times.
While he feels vindicated with the dismissal, Mann faces the uphill and perhaps impossible task of trying to repair his reputation in the small town community of Corvallis, and frankly, anywhere in the world within reach of a computer with internet access. Quite expectedly, Mann can’t help but feel resentment towards his accuser. Given the evidence of inconsistencies, the State’s inability to corroborate the accuser’s story and many outright lies by the accuser that his legal team uncovered while preparing for his trial, Mann can’t also help feel resentment against the Corvallis Police Department for what has happened to him these past two years.
Mann said, “I was falsely accused of something horrible. Quite frankly I was shocked to learn how much the system is set up to help accusers at the expense of people like me fighting for my life. I passed a polygraph with flying colors. It was even verified in court by the nation’s leading authority on lie detectors [Dr. David Raskin]. We even used the same polygrapher [Steven Hebner] that the Corvallis Police Department used for the Brooke Wilberger case, thinking that they [Corvallis PD] would take him seriously. It did nothing other than begin to repair my reputation with the military, friends and acquaintances. Then, I learned from my attorney that Oregon law doesn’t even allow us to request her to take a polygraph.”
Arnold is still optimistic about the justice system though. Arnold said, “Jurors understand that accusers can lie. The so-called victim’s rights movement started out with good intentions. But the pendulum has swung too far at the expense of Mr. Mann’s and others rights.” Arnold predicts that “true believer detectives will eventually start collecting all of the evidence and challenging everyone’s stories, not just the ones they choose to believe. Smaller departments like CPD are still behind this curve, but cases like this should teach a lesson that will help both real victims and the wrongly accused in the future.”
Arnold said, “Juries decide cases. Detectives collect the evidence. When everyone sticks to their jobs, the system works. The system may have failed Mr. Mann in the beginning, but in the end he was vindicated.”
Mann’s parents, who funded his defense, are now considering filing a civil suit against the accuser for Malicious Prosecution to recoup attorney fees and further restore their son’s name. His father Steven Mann said, “We don’t want any other young man beginning his life to have to go through what we went through with our son. She needs to be held accountable for what she’s done to our family.”
Mann is ready to get his life back on track. He now chalks up this terrible ordeal as an expensive and humiliating life lesson. “Now that this case is behind me, I’m moving on with my life.”