COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s Supreme Court has overturned a child sex conviction, saying the man’s lawyers should have been able to challenge the credibility of a witness based on a special visa she was given to encourage her testimony.
Venancio Diaz Perez of North Charleston, now serving a 25-year sentence, will get a new trial.
52-year-old Perez was accused of sexual acts involving two girls whose mothers were granted “U visas” so they could testify without fear of deportation.
Defense lawyers wanted to the jury to consider whether the visas could have motivated their accusations. The judge allowed their questions for one woman, but not the other. The justices ruled Wednesday that questioning both women about their immigration status was key to their credibility.