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Exoneration on False Accusation

A man was accused by his then approximately 15-year-old stepdaughter of repeated, forced sexual assaults. Although no eye-witness testimony, physical evidence or medical evidence corroborated the complainant’s allegations, he was convicted of several sexual assault charges, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. After his conviction and while incarcerated, the convicted defendant retained DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian for his appeal.

A review of the medical evidence revealed that the complainant had Von Willebrand disease, a genetic blood-clotting disorder that made her more likely to bruise and bleed. This information was particularly relevant to the client’s defense, given that the complainant’s sexual assault medical examination, conducted shortly after an alleged assault, found no evidence of bruising or bleeding.

Mr. DerOhannesian retained the services of a highly qualified medical expert who explained to the appellate court that the complainant’s VWD, together with the lack of any bruising or bleeding, rendered her already questionable claims all the more incredible. DerOhannesian argued that his client was denied his constitutional right to meaningful representation when his trial attorney failed to utilize an expert and present this evidence to the jury. Ultimately, the appellate court agreed and reveresed the conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel and other trial errors identified by DerOhannesian, leading to the release of the client from prison.


A police officer assigned to a special narcotics investigations unit was accused of sexual abuse by a woman who was stopped and searched for drugs during a traffic stop. The allegation resulted in widespread media coverage. DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian represented the accused and conducted its own private investigation helping to demonstrate the falsity of the allegation. Eventually the officer was not charged and the accuser indicted and convicted of making false statements about the sexual abuse.