NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - William Arnold did something unexpected in court when he heard the rape convictions, which had sent him to prison for seven years, had been dismissed.
He walked over to an assistant district attorney, whose own office was responsible for the case against him, and at first tried to shake his hand but instead gave an elbow bump.
That assistant district attorney, Robert Jones, had been tasked with reviewing Arnold’s case for more than a year, looking to see if prosecutors had built a flawed case.
“I no longer have confidence in the conviction of Mr. Arnold,” Jones simply said before the judge.
After that elbow bump, Arnold left the courtroom a free man.
“It means the world to me because my world was taken away. I just want to say to all those who are still fighting, still wrongfully convicted, it can work. It worked for me. I hope it can work for others.
The district attorney’s move come more than a year after an appellate court dismissed his conviction and his 25 year prison sentence for sexual battery and rape of a boy while he was a mentor with the Boys and Girl’s Club.
That ruling criticized the prosecutor for making “exceedingly improper comments” to the jury.
The ruling also found Arnold’s defense was ineffective in certain circumstances and that evidence disclosed in discovery raised questions about the boy’s credibility.
Arnold had long argued that he shared a first name with a teenager who was having a sexual relationship with the boy.
Allegra Walker, the former assistant district attorney on the case, went on to become a judge.
While Walker herself did not return our call for comment, attorney Worrick Robinson sent News4 Investigates a statement on her behalf, reading in part, “As with any case, the evidence was presented to the jury who later rendered a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the conviction. Judge Walker respects the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals. There will be no further comment.”
Shannell Brown, the mother of the alleged victim, said her son still claims he was raped by Arnold and intends to continue her civil lawsuit.
“I feel today a monster was set free,” Brown said. “My son wouldn’t lie, He wouldn’t blame someone for something that happened to him that was horrendous.”
As for Arnold, he said the ruling is the result of faith.
“There were times in a cold jail cell literally on a dirty floor I couldn’t do anything but give it to God,” Arnold said.