54-Year-Old Michigan Man Walks Free After Spending 9 Years in Prison on Rape Charges

In 2003, James Eugene Grissom was imprisoned after being convicted on a rape charge; the rape allegedly occurred in 2001. In August of 2012, newly discovered evidence in the case led to the Michigan Supreme Court granting relief to Mr. Grissom, who had appealed for a new trial. According to the State Appellate Defender’s Office website, the alleged victim was found to have made several false rape allegations, and Grissom was granted a new trial. The case against the defendant was dismissed on November 19, 2012, and Grissom walked free after spending nine years in prison for a crime it appears he did not commit.

Circuit Judge Cynthia Lane dismissed the charges against Grissom, who looked around briefly and for the first time in nearly 10 years saw no fences confining him and wore no shackles. The Port Huron man said in regards to his release, “I didn’t think it would be this long.”

At the time of Grissom’s trial in 2003, the other rape allegations which had been made by the alleged victim, Sara Ylen, were not known by either the prosecution or defense. While the identity of victims involved in sex crimes are often not revealed, Ylen had come forward and approached the Times Herald to share her story.

Grissom was found guilty on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct at trial, and sentenced by a jury to 15 to 35 years in prison. However, Ms. Ylen’s credibility came into play after she allegedly told family members, friends, and the police that she had been raped numerous times. Ylen also claimed that after the alleged rape by Grissom, she was kidnapped and raped in California during that same year. However, while Ylen reported the attack to police soon after, she failed to include details that she was allegedly raped during the incident until more than a year later.

Grissom’s appeals lawyer Christine Pagac said that her client should be granted a new trial because of new evidence which clearly made Ylen appear as though she was not credible, following the false claim that she was kidnapped and raped in California.

Ultimately, the case against Grissom was dropped this past November and he has now been set free to go on about his life.

Michigan sex crime defense attorneys know that these types of situations are extremely common, and that many innocent people sit behind bars because they have been wrongly accused. While we may never know if Ms. Ylen was sexually violated by Mr. Grissom, it is apparent that she was not credible and seemed to create drama.


If you have been falsely accused of a sex crime or have been convicted and believe you have grounds to appeal, consult with a skilled and experienced Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who will work with you to determine if you may be able to appeal your conviction.