Newburgh woman plans lawsuit against county, police following overturned sex crime conviction

Franeisha Patterson's 2019 convictions for rape and other charges were overturned on appeal in March. 

Ben Nandy and Lee Danuff

Aug 15, 2023, 9:12 PM

Updated 251 days ago

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A woman whose sex crime conviction was overturned in Orange County Court is seeking accountability from the prosecutors and the police who handled her case.
"I can't get that time back. My kids can't get that time back," says Franeisha Patterson, who spent five years incarcerated.
Patterson's attorney,  Justin Bonus, filed a notice of claim against the city and the county, which gives both sides a chance to resolve their issue before a lawsuit is filed.
Patterson's 2019 convictions for rape and other charges were overturned on appeal in March. 
"I just went through this for five years. I didn't speak out during my case, so answering questions today was very, very tough for me," says Patterson. 
Patterson was present during a sexual encounter involving her sister, two men and an underage female in December 2017.
All four adults who were in the home were convicted of sex crimes.
An appellate court panel of four judges wrote there was no proof that Patterson committed rape and no proof that Patterson knew the victim's real age. The panel pointed out that the victim said at trial it was only Patterson's ​sister who abused her over a weekslong period.
Patterson's attorney says they're seeking a settlement worth millions.
"Essentially, you have a victim who says my client's not involved, yet she's still prosecuted, so the claims against the city and the county are about civil rights violations. Things like malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment," says Bonus. 
Patterson says this is about more than money. She says it's also about preventing what her lawyer calls overzealous prosecution in the future. 
News 12 reached out to both the City of Newburgh and the Orange County District Attorney's Office seeking responses to Patterson's legal action.
A City of Newburgh spokesperson responded saying the city does not comment on ongoing litigation.
News 12 is still waiting for a response from the DA's office.


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