Brian Troupe
Brian Troupe spent nearly 20 years in prison after his stepdaughter said he molested her. He remained in prison long after she changed her mind. (Tamir Kalifa)

The Recanters: What Happens When Abuse Claims Come Undone?

Beverly Troupe once claimed her stepfather abused her, but now she says it never happened. She's not alone.


A version of this story ran in the October 2013 issue.

One morning in late 1986, Beverly Troupe approached her mother and said she felt a burning sensation when she urinated. This wasn’t the first time. LaVern Troupe had taken her 8-year-old daughter to the hospital with similar symptoms twice before: once in Germany, where they had lived earlier that year, and again in Killeen, where they were now stationed. LaVern’s husband, Brian, served in the military as a telecommunications officer, and the family moved with him from base to base. LaVern and Brian had married five years earlier, when Beverly was 3, and had two boys and a girl together. Though he wasn’t her biological father, Brian considered Beverly his daughter.

He was running drills that morning at Fort Hood and LaVern was alone with the children when Beverly started complaining of pain. LaVern took her daughter to the Darnall Army Community Hospital at the base. A doctor examined Beverly, found nothing wrong and sent them home. But the pain didn’t go away. Beverly complained again that night, so her mother waited for Brian to get home and they returned to the hospital. They were young parents, in their mid-twenties, and the pediatrician who examined Beverly, Dr. Samuel Mujica, was 29. When he conducted a pelvic exam, Mujica noticed something unusual: Beverly, he scribbled in his notes, was missing her hymen. There were several small cuts around her vaginal area. She was “very reserved,” he later said. She wouldn’t laugh. She wouldn’t make eye contact. He came to suspect that she had been sexually abused.

Mujica decided that Beverly should stay the night, and he told Brian and LaVern about his findings. LaVern responded that her daughter had been playing with a rope swing across the street from their house with other children. Beverly was regularly bullied, Lavern explained, and, because she was small and had short hair, other kids would say she looked like a boy. So she would insist on wearing dresses, and when leaping onto the rope swing she would have little protection.

Beverly slept at the hospital that night. The next morning Mujica ordered more tests, which produced evidence of “lacerations” on her vagina. He brought in a gynecologist to examine Beverly, who was sedated, and together they estimated that the abrasions inside her vagina were less than three weeks old. “My opinion is that Beverly had a vagina that … compared to the vagina of a sexually active adult woman,” Mujica later said. “The only thing that could cause that is really penetration by some sort of object.”

Mujica—who did not return multiple calls to the Las Vegas hospital where he is now listed on staff—would later testify that the explanations offered by Beverly’s parents were not convincing. LaVern remembers it differently. “The doctors never acknowledged me and never noticed I was in the room,” she told me. Eventually she got a nurse to talk to her. What the nurse told her is seared into her memory: “Like a hooker,” the nurse said, “her cherry has been busted.”

LaVern remembers “forgetting where I was.” She ran to the waiting room and told Brian what the nurse had said. He remembers standing up and shouting curses. He remembers being told he would be the primary suspect. The hospital called his company commander at Fort Hood, who ordered him to return to the barracks. LaVern took the other children home.

Mujica contacted the Department of Human Services and requested an investigation. A social worker named Helen Paramore, herself just 25, interviewed Beverly alone after her parents had left the hospital. Paramore later contended that she talked with Beverly alone because allowing the parents in the room “would not have been a good investigative move,” since they might pressure Beverly. After three and a half hours alone in a room with Paramore, Beverly emerged claiming she had been molested by her stepfather, Brian.

Later that year, Beverly told a Bell County jury that her stepfather had raped her. But that wasn’t all. She said he had also taken a rag stuffed with glass and used it to wash her private parts in the bathtub. Brian Troupe was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Paramore claimed that LaVern had told her she no longer wanted Beverly, and Paramore recommended that Beverly be put into foster care. A judge agreed that LaVern could not sufficiently protect her daughter, even with Brian in prison, in part because she refused to believe the abuse allegations against her husband. The couple’s sons were allowed to stay with LaVern. A younger daughter, then only an infant, was briefly removed to state custody and then returned.

Four months after taking Beverly to the hospital that morning in 1986, LaVern Troupe had lost her husband to prison and her daughter to the state. Barred from contact, she wouldn’t speak to Beverly for seven years.

Beverly was put in a foster home, and then another, and then another: 10 placements in 10 years. She was sent to Austin and Waco and as far away as Vermont. Some foster families tried to comfort Beverly, while others were emotionally and even physically abusive. As a teenager, Beverly was sexually abused by a foster father, and by then she was sure it was the first time. Ever since she’d first been taken to foster care—even when she could not articulate it—she knew that Brian was innocent.

“I kept crying and telling people it never happened,” Beverly told me recently. “I kept telling people ‘I want to go home.’ As I got older, I was in a trance, like my mind was blank. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me.”

As a frightened child and teenager moving from home to home and school to school, and forbidden from contacting her family, Beverly mostly kept her story a secret. “I was just silent,” she said. “It was embarrassing.”

Beverly slowly came to believe that Paramore, the social worker, had bullied her into accusing her stepfather. Some foster parents believed her. Others did not. Eventually she decided it was her responsibility to clear Brian’s name, by telling a judge that Brian had never abused her.


Beverly Troupe
Beverly Troupe  Tamir Kalifa

There are no statistics on the number of child victims who recant testimony and say they were never abused, just as there is no telling exactly how many actual cases of child rape are never reported. What we do know is that child abuse is a treacherous area of the law. It’s easy to forget how much of American criminal law rests on an adult’s sense of veracity. We can all parrot the old line, “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” and we can define perjury. But what happens when the key witness and only victim in a horrific crime is a young child whose ability to reliably remember and relate what happened is compromised by immaturity? And how reliable is a recantation? When a child grows up and recants an accusation, he or she may be lying to protect the convicted, who is often a family member.

The past few years have seen a handful of notable exonerations suggesting that Beverly’s claims are not unique. In 2011 a man named Tony Hall was freed after spending 15 years in prison for molesting a young boy in Hudson, near Lufkin. After Hall finished his sentence, he moved back to Hudson and eventually crossed paths with the accuser, then 23 years old. The accuser admitted that his mother had coached him. “I was very scared and told my mother what she wanted to hear so that I would not get a beating,” he later wrote in an affidavit. “I remember arguing with my mother about this, and I remember my mother threatening me.”

Hall was exonerated after serving his entire sentence. “I know nothing can give Mr. Hall back the years that he lost in prison,” read the accuser’s statement, which was quoted in the Lufkin Daily News, “but I want to do what I can to help him have a life now.”

Last year Michael Arena was freed after 13 years in prison. His alleged victim, a cousin, said she had been coached to accuse Arena and his brother as part of a custody battle in Bell County, not far from where Beverly Troupe lived with her parents.

But Arena hasn’t been formally exonerated, because prosecutors have not decided whether to take him back to trial. The Texas Supreme Court, which handles appeals in juvenile cases (the Arena brothers were 14 and 15 when they were charged), threw out the conviction, ruling that Michael was tried unfairly because a prosecution witness, psychologist Fred Willoughby, had used a test called the Abel Assessment. The test required the suspect to click through pictures of girls and women in swimsuits, and secretly measured how long he viewed each photo. According to one study, the test had a false-positive rate of 42 percent when non-molesters took it. Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht referred to the test as “bordering on hokum.”

But the court also stated that the recanting victim was not necessarily credible, because she could have been pressured by the Arena brothers’ family to change her story.

One morning in late 2012, I attended a hearing in San Antonio to reexamine the case of Frank Navarijo, a former police officer convicted in 1999 of molesting his 5-year-old daughter. She was now a student at Texas State University, and she appeared nervous as she took the witness stand. It had been 14 years since the accusation, and the prosecutors told the judge they had trouble finding a VHS player to watch the tapes of her original interview. Navarijo looked frail, with chunky black prison-made glasses, messy white hair and eyebrows, and a bright-red jumper. At one point he broke down in tears and blew a kiss to his family members.

Navarijo’s attorney, Michael Gross, wasted no time getting to the heart of the matter. “Did you feel any pressure to come in?” he asked Navarijo’s daughter. When she responded with a firm head shake and resolute “No,” he asked a series of questions to portray her as a responsible, independent young woman no longer under the control of the grandmother, Navarijo’s mother-in-law, who she said had coached her to accuse her father.

“She hated my father,” said the woman, whose deep voice gradually lost its nervous tremor. “She did have a fair amount of control over me because I was with her frequently, and she essentially told me to tell these lies.”

Prosecutor Mary Beth Welsh cross-examined her with tough questions, but at times it felt as if Welsh was going through the motions, more like a doctor obtaining a thorough medical history. The point wasn’t to portray the woman as a liar, but under even gentle questioning she withered. Her memories were patchy and muddled. “There’s not really a whole lot you remember about these incidents,” Welsh said.

As the hearing paused for lunch, Welsh told reporters that Navarijo’s original trial had been “free and fair. … The question,” she said, “turns on this witness and whether she was being truthful then or is being truthful now.”

Speaking to the San Antonio Current, Jeff Mulliner, the prosecutor at Navarijo’s trial, wasn’t so generous. “I can think of a hundred reasons,” he said, “why somebody within the last 14 years, with all of that family pressure, would come out and say, ‘This evil grandmother is the reason I said everything that I said.’”

Eventually, Judge Theresa Herr found that there was “clear and convincing evidence” a new jury would not find him guilty and sent a positive recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is expected to rule soon on whether to free Navarijo.

Cases like those of Hall, the Arena brothers and Navarijo are not unique to Texas. They come at a time when many of the young children of the 1980s and 1990s are now young adults who can credibly recant. They also come at a time of unprecedented numbers of exonerations.

But the legal issues raised by such recantations aren’t new. In 1998, New York Times reporter Joseph Berger reported the story of Stacey Hoehmann, who accused her father of sexual assault. He was convicted in Rockland County, a suburb of New York City, but she recanted before his appeal had been filed. Berger wrote that “some experts in child psychiatry approach such recantations skeptically because, they say, a child can be more upset by the convulsive effect of her charges than by actual abuse.” Dr. Alan J. Tuckman, a psychiatrist for the county, told the Times, “it’s tremendously traumatic to betray a parent.” The judge in the case even admitted, in his written decision freeing the father, that “It may very well be the case that Stacey has purchased the companionship of her family with perjured recantation testimony.’’

Dr. James Wood, a psychologist at the University of Texas at El Paso who specializes in the study of child forensic interviews, doesn’t share this skepticism. “There’s no evidence for the idea that they change their story to protect the accused,” he told me. “It’s just a way out for prosecutors.”


Beverly Troupe is now 34 and lives behind a strip mall in Houston in a small, sparse apartment that she shares with her husband and their dog. When I visited her one afternoon in May, she handed me a binder. It was full of trial transcripts, affidavits, police reports, medical evaluations, emails from doctors she had asked to examine the case, correspondence with the county about missing evidence, and the results of a polygraph exam in which she maintained her stepfather’s innocence (she passed). She also included a timeline from the website describing “witch hunts” going back to the 9th century. She believes her stepfather, who spent 17 years in prison and is now out on parole, was the subject of one. She had been waiting a long time for a reporter.

Beverly speaks quickly, like she’s rushing to get out as much information as possible. “As an 8-year-old, I could not completely understand what was going on and what they were making me say and do,” she told me. “I remember having to repeat the story to multiple people multiple times, and my story changed. I remember being told to say and do certain things or I wouldn’t be able to go home to my parents again.”

During their three-and-a-half-hour interview, Helen Paramore, the social worker, “kept asking questions. I kept giving her answers she didn’t want to hear. … She kept getting angrier, so I finally gave in.” Beverly remembers being “confused and scared.” She remembers rehearsing the allegations of abuse with Paramore in the car on the way to the trial. (Paramore, who has since changed her name, didn’t return multiple phone calls in December 2012 and August 2013 seeking an interview.)

At her stepfather’s trial, Beverly didn’t immediately admit that he had touched her. Eventually, prosecutor Rusty Carroll was nearly pleading. “You need to tell these people on this jury, Beverly, so they will know,” he said, according to the trial transcript. “Just say it, Hon. Just tell us. … Tell them who did it to you.”

There’s no response from Beverly, so then he says, “Well, let’s just do something else for a few minutes,” and begins asking her to detail the abuse. Her responses are monosyllabic. The judge has to ask her to speak up. At one point she is asked if her stepfather stuck objects in her vagina, and she says “No.” A few minutes later, when asked specifically about popsicle sticks, she says “Yes.” She says that one night he rubbed her with a rag filled with glass in the bathtub.

Brian was incredulous over the glass allegation. Nobody checked his hands for cuts. “Anybody that takes a rag full of glass and washes someone with it; they’re not going to be cut up too?” he told me.

On cross-examination, Brian’s lawyer, Ted Potter, had Beverly reiterate her mother’s story about the rope swing. She admitted she may have hurt herself on the swing but said that her stepfather had been responsible for cutting her. Once the accusation had come out, she repeated it again and again.

Brian remembers sitting at the defendant’s table, watching his stepdaughter on the stand. As she spoke, he told me, Beverly twiddled her thumbs, something she would only do when telling a lie. “I know my daughter,” he said. (It is only in official documents that Beverly and Brian refer to each other as stepfather and stepdaughter.)

By the time of the trial, Beverly was already in foster care. She would spend 10 years in 10 homes.

Julie Moody, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, couldn’t comment on Beverly’s case specifically but told me that foster care is today considered a last resort if no family member can be found to care for a child. Nevertheless, she said, “It is typical that a mother might say, ‘I don’t believe my child,’ and then a judge might agree that the mother isn’t protecting her child.” Moody wouldn’t say whether a child in Beverly’s situation would be removed today. (“There’s no cookie-cutter answer.”) But she acknowledged that much has changed in the state’s understanding of child-welfare strategies since 1986. “What they did 30 years ago is probably completely different than what they do today.”

The first foster family “didn’t pay attention to me at all,” Beverly said, and rarely allowed her to leave her room. At the second home, her foster mother punished Beverly for playing with white children (Beverly and the foster mother are both black).

Then she was sent to live with a family in Vermont—Moody confirmed that CPS would send children out of state if their “needs can only be met” there. Beverly said she was “confused and shocked” to be sent so far away. She lived with a white woman in Williston, a town of 5,000 with almost no African Americans. After the racial dynamic Beverly had just left, it was a jarring shift. Her relationship with the woman grew tense. “She wanted me to change my last name to hers, and we would get into fights.”

Beverly was later sent to a home in Waco. “By then I was traumatized. I didn’t know much about good behavior. I didn’t know how to act well around people.” The Waco foster mother “didn’t know how to handle me. I was seeing a lot of boys, and she couldn’t handle that.”

By July 1994, Beverly was back in Killeen. “That’s when the trouble really began.” She was 15. “The foster father wanted to sleep with me. He was a pastor. His wife was a nurse and worked at night, so every time she would leave to go to work, he’d come to my bedroom at three in the morning. He would touch me and then give me money, and I remember going to school with a lot of money, and teachers were suspicious because I wasn’t working, but I never told anybody where the money came from.” He molested Beverly and asked her to have sex with him, though she never did. “He offered me a lot of money,” she said.

Beverly ran away. From a pay phone outside a 7-Eleven, she called her mother. They hadn’t spoken in seven years. But LaVern picked Beverly up and called CPS to complain about the foster father’s abuse. Based on LaVern’s tip, the department investigated the family with the abusive father and removed their other foster children.

Beverly’s last stop was an all-girl shelter in North Austin. After she turned 17, she was allowed to visit her family again. At 18 she moved back in with her mother. Together, they went to visit Brian in prison.


Roughly 120 people around the country have proved they were wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing a child and won release from prison, according to the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan. But advocates will tell you there are many more who never make it. Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel at the Innocence Project of Texas, estimates that 70 percent of the hundreds of letters his group receives every week come from people convicted of child-sex crimes. “This is a recurring pattern all over the place,” he told me, because “any time you have the misfortune of being accused of a crime that’s been politicized, you’re in trouble … everybody wants to sympathize with the child.”

Advocates for the wrongfully convicted and advocates for child victims both understand the difficulties of child witnesses. They agree that their memories are more malleable than an adult’s. Both see that problem as evidence that their side is losing.

Earlier this year, Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman passed Senate Bill 12, which will allow prosecutors to introduce evidence against child-sex assault defendants of prior offenses, including accusations by other children. “Very often it’s hard for jurors to believe the testimony of a small child, especially when there is no physical evidence,” Huffman, a former Houston prosecutor and judge, told me. Often, so much time has passed before the child comes forward that any physical evidence has washed away or healed over.

Kristin Etter of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association told lawmakers that the bill “will lead to more wrongful convictions.” Blackburn told me that in many cases, someone generally not liked by the community will find himself the target of multiple false accusations, the object of a witch hunt.

At a press conference the week Huffman introduced her bill, I asked Amanda Van Hoozer, a former CPS worker who now is director of program services for the Children’s Advocacy Center in Austin, whether she worried about false reports of assault in light of all the recent recantations. “Not all recantations mean that the child wasn’t victimized,” she said.

Prosecutors and child advocates are often skeptical of these recantations, because they could be the product of a child who really was abused wanting to make amends with the abuser. Some defense attorneys have mentioned this concern as well, particularly in Beverly’s case.

But at the National Center for Reason and Justice, a national nonprofit based in Massachusetts that identifies potential cases of innocence from among high stacks of letters from prisoners and parolees around the country, it is believed that many more innocent people are out there, in prison and on parole, who will never be exonerated.

Journalist Debbie Nathan, who works with the group and wrote the book Satan’s Silence about the famed satanic ritual abuse cases of the 1980s and 1990s, said that the vast majority of cases in which someone is falsely accused of raping a child are not as lurid or absurd as the bizarre tales of sexual torture that once dominated the headlines. Sometimes the accused may be technically innocent but otherwise unsympathetic. “Maybe they hit the kid,” Nathan said, or “there is stuff going on where it’s not sexual abuse, but it might not be a savory family situation.”

The National Center for Reason and Justice has “a dozen to two dozen other cases on the back burner at a time,” said attorney Michael Snedeker, the group’s president. Usually, he said, the biggest indicator of a flaw in these cases is the initial interview. “In many of these tapes the interviewer is the star of the show and the kid is just confused.” The interviewers often “believe you can never be too aggressive in serving the interests of children.”


While she was in middle school, Beverly started sending letters to the court in Bell County, explaining that her stepfather was innocent. “I don’t know if they ever got there,” she said.

She had no idea how to help him get out of prison before 2005, when Brian was released on parole. Beverly was then in her late 20s, and she realized that she and her mother could use the legal system to exonerate him. She found a lawyer to file an appeal. It took roughly six years before a hearing was scheduled, and it didn’t go well.

The county stood by the conviction, and prosecutors claimed no longer to have a video of Beverly’s interview, which was never introduced as evidence at the trial, or photographs from her medical exam. Regardless of the contents of the video, its existence was never disclosed to Brian’s original defense attorney by the prosecution.

Though Brian’s appeal was eventually denied, the 2011 hearing did lay bare inconsistencies in the testimony of both the doctor and the social worker who examined Beverly. Paramore, the social worker, admitted at the 1986 trial that she had asked Beverly to point to where she had been touched on a small doll, but then later denied it. She testified in 2011 that she never suggested a perpetrator, but in 1986 she said she asked Beverly specifically if her stepfather was the one responsible.

Mujica had his own inconsistencies, which Beverly meticulously catalogued. At the 2011 hearing, Mujica testified that he hadn’t seen Beverly the first time she was brought in that morning. But later, when asked the same question by the defense, he said he “actually” had seen her. He had trouble remembering. Like Paramore, he was being asked to recall events 25 years earlier. Children may have malleable memories, but adult memories are not free of the distortions of time and partiality.

Over the past few years, Beverly has asked numerous doctors to look at the medical and court records. I contacted two other doctors who specialize in pediatrics and gynecology about her case. Neither was willing to go on record saying that medical evidence shows Beverly was never abused, because without the pictures—which still can’t be located; the county has told Beverly they were never filed—their findings would be inconclusive.

James Wood, the UT-El Paso psychologist who specializes in child forensic interviews, said the three-and-a-half-hour interview that led to Beverly’s accusation of her stepfather is a clear red flag. He said that most children who have been sexually abused tell their interviewer within 20 minutes; if more time goes by, children become more open to suggestion, or invent memories they think their interviewer wants to hear. “We now know adults can be quite suggestive,” he said, “and sometimes they are unaware of it.”

Anthony Haughton, a lawyer who runs a smaller innocence project at the Earl Carl Institute at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, has agreed to lead a team of law students to look at Brian’s case. They have yet to deeply investigate, but Haughton has said he may file a new appeal of Brian’s conviction. (Beverly is also looking for other lawyers to take the case.) Out on parole after serving 17 years, Brian still has his freedoms restricted by the conviction. He’s a registered sex offender, and much about his life would change were he to win exoneration.


After leaving Beverly’s home in Houston, I drove with photographer Tamir Kalifa 190 miles northwest to Killeen, where Brian and LaVern still live. LaVern greeted me at the door with a cordless phone in her hand; Beverly was on the line. They talk nearly every day. Brian, though, can’t communicate with Beverly due to his parole restrictions.

An upright piano sat across from big plush couches, and LaVern had the cowboy-music show Hee Haw playing on a television in the background. She’s a large woman with gray-speckled hair and a cheerful voice. Brian smiled at her as he emerged from another room and plopped down on a couch. On a side table sat a wireless receiver for the ankle monitor he must wear as a registered sex offender. Though the state has assessed his risk level to be “low,” he faces severe restrictions on his movements, enforced with the ankle monitor. Brian needs permission from a parole officer to travel anywhere other than his home, his workplaces—he works as a gas station clerk and as a cook at Fort Hood—his church and therapy sessions. If he forgets the monitor at his home or work, he is sent to the county jail for 30 to 60 days. This has happened several times since his release.

In contrast to Beverly, Brian walks and speaks very slowly, like someone much older than his 52 years. He often lets the words of one thought settle before continuing to another, and pauses peppered our conversation, though they were never awkward. I asked him to describe life in prison, a place where sex offenders often face some of the harshest treatment from other inmates. We sat in silence for a moment, and then he said:

“Prison has been a hardship, a pain, and yet a blessing for me, because it helped me to grow spiritually. … It also helped me in my relationship with my wife and my children, because I actually didn’t spend that father-and-wife time with my family. I didn’t have that quality time … because the military was my love. I loved the military. … I spent more time with the military than I spent at home.

“[Prison] taught me a lot; as things are taken away from you, you are limited to what you can do, not being able to turn over and kiss my wife. I’m laying on a hard cot, not being able to get up and go to the refrigerator. Things that were taken for granted, that being in prison you don’t have … you either become institutionalized or not, and that’s a choice that you make, and I never allowed myself to become institutionalized, and it was only because of God … That’s the blessing part.”

You’d never know he and LaVern had spent nearly two decades apart, and they didn’t, not completely. LaVern took their other three children to visit Brian often at the prisons where he served, mostly in remote areas of East Texas. “I could practically raise my children from the penitentiary,” he said. He can still visit with his other children, and his “man cave,” a room in the back of the house, is filled with photos of them, including several of Beverly.

Brian and LaVern’s accounts of 1986 understandably have more detail than the one offered by Beverly, and as they described the night they took her to the hospital, the accusations, the trial, the prison time and the parole restrictions, I was struck mainly by Brian’s balance of multiple emotions. He can express anger over what happened to him, resignation at his inability to change the situation and a basic sense of contentment—the kind you find in a man with a loving family, a big house and a stable job in the prime of his life—all at the same time.

“Nobody can say I molested my daughter other than God or my daughter, and both of them are saying I didn’t do it, and so am I,” he told me. “God has given me that peace, to be able to see it in that manner, to where it doesn’t really matter. For almost 20 years in prison, that’s all I really wanted to hear and know: that she knew. I’m at peace with my life.”


In 2001, Beverly was working at a Social Security office in Austin. One day she was walking down a street near the river when a man named Will Enoch noticed her. “I saw her and I just stopped,” he said. He got her number, but “she gave me the runaround,” not answering as he called repeatedly for several weeks. Eventually, she agreed to meet.

As he told the story, Beverly tried to suppress a grin. After a full afternoon spent describing her own story, this was the most she had smiled. They were married briefly, then divorced, and remarried in 2007. Now Will works in Houston doing paving and maintaining pools. He is also active in an organization that tries to expose abuses within the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among whom he grew up.

A photo of a smiling Brian sat near the television in the sparsely furnished room, and I asked Will if he had met his father-in-law. “Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s Pops!”

For a long time, Beverly didn’t disclose the full story of her father’s imprisonment and her time in foster care to Will. Over the last few years, she has shown him the documents in Brian’s case, and Will has come to believe that the doctor and social worker were young and inexperienced, and too stubborn to admit they made a mistake.

I asked if they plan to have children of their own. Beverly and Will both laughed. “We’re still thinking on that,” she said.