SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio man was in court Friday seeking an exoneration for his 1991 conviction for indecency with a child. And his biggest advocate is the alleged victim — his son.
In 1991, Melvin Quinney was accused by his son, who was 10 at the time, of being in a Satanic cult and sexually abusing him and his sister.
John Parker testified to this abuse and Quinney was found guilty of indecency with a child and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Quinney got out early in 1999 for good behavior but has since had to register as a sex offender.
Parker, now 41, is trying to get his father exonerated, saying he now realizes that the entire story he told was made up.
Judge Andrew Carruthers presided over a hearing on Friday as Quinney now seeks exoneration.
The Texas Innocence Project has taken up the case on Quinney’s behalf. The Bexar County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit also participated in the hearing.
Parker testified during Friday’s hearing, but this time, recanted his original story, saying it was all a lie that was forced on him by his mother and other adults after his parents had separated in 1989.
“I was told good memories I had were put there by Satanists to cover up the other bad memories in my past,” Parker said.
At one point during the investigation against Quinney, Parker’s mother accused Quinney and others from the cult of killing babies. The FBI and Texas Rangers investigated those claims but no bodies or evidence of such crimes were ever found.
Even after his father was convicted, Parker said his mother still him and his siblings convinced that a cult was after them.
“Our whole life revolved around ‘a Satanic cult was after us,’” Parker said. His mom died in 1999.
During the 80s and 90s, multiple trials took place where individuals were being accused of being in Satanic cults and being convicted of sexually abusing children. It was called “Satanic Panic.”
“These groups were trying to claim that Satanists are sort of seducing our children and taking over America,” Texas State University Religious Studies professor Dr. Joseph Laycock said.
In Texas, in 1991, besides Quinney, a couple in Austin who owned a daycare was sentenced to 48 years for abusing several children during a Satanic ritual. In 1994, four women in San Antonio were accused of raping two little girls and were all convicted.
The Austin couple and the women known as the San Antonio Four have all since been exonerated.
Now, Quinney is hoping for the same results.
His son was one of several to testify, all saying that Quinney was innocent.
Judge Carruthers will send his recommendation on the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and they will rule in or not in favor of exoneration. If they rule in favor it goes back to the trial court to officially order the exoneration.
That whole process could take as long as a year or more.