Report: Jailhouse Informants Were Offered 'Sex for Lies'

Their testimony may have sent innocent Philadelphia men to prison for decades
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2021 5:39 PM CDT
Report: Jailhouse Informants Were Offered 'Sex for Lies'
The Philadelphia Police Administration Building, also known as "the Roundhouse."   (Wikimedia Commons/Beyond My Ken)

Former jailhouse informants in Philadelphia say detectives trying to clear up murder cases decades ago offered them the chance to have sex with girlfriends or sex workers in police interview rooms in return for false testimony that sent innocent men to prison. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that no case has been overturned on "sex for lies" since 1990, but at least six men whose convictions were based on testimony from accusers who have admitted they lied in return for sex and drugs are still behind bars, including 71-year-old William Franklin. In a 2016 affidavit, ex-con Manny Claitt said police said he had a choice between a life sentence or leniency, plus the chance to meet girlfriends in a police building known as the Roundhouse, if he implicated Franklin and another man in a 1976 murder. Visitor logs show he met at least one girlfriend in the building.

In a statement before his death last year, Claitt admitted his testimony had been false—and said detectives threatened to frame him for another murder if he recanted. "There was never no evidence, no fingerprints, no weapons, no ballistics," Franklin says. At least 11 other former prisoners have also claimed homicide detectives offered similar arrangements, including Franklin Lee, who says women were allowed to bring drugs to the meetings. Most of the detectives involved are now deceased and the DA's office has declined to comment on the cases in the Inquirer story. Boston College law professor R. Michael Cassidy tells the paper that jailhouse informants are the "third rail of prosecutorial behavior" and offering informants sex and drugs "would be egregious behavior that would probably make the whole statement inadmissible, even if the behavior was disclosed." (More Philadelphia stories.)

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