More details from Dr. Anderson’s “show trial” are found in this section. Meanwhile, here is his side of the story never heard by the jury.
“I have a warrant for your arrest.”
Those were the most chilling words that I have ever heard. I was driving to work as a Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine and Director of the Gene Therapy Laboratories on the morning of July 30, 2004, when suddenly a group of police cars with flashing lights pulled me over to the curb. I was handcuffed, taken to jail, and falsely charged with the most horrible of crimes: sexual molestation of a child. Abruptly, my world was turned upside down. This began a 9½ year nightmare of injustice and outrage that has not yet ended.
I am innocent and I have maintained my innocence from the moment of my arrest. I have always tried to live a life of integrity and compassion for others. The rock-solid support of my wife of over 52 years and the belief in my innocence by my many friends and colleagues (some going back to grade school days) stand as affirmation of the moral life that I have lived. Yet I am in prison.
My habeas attorney has uncovered evidence that documents the falseness of every piece of damaging evidence used against me. The teenage girl who made the false charges against me may well be the victim of unfortunate circumstances in her life, but she is not a victim of any illegal conduct on my part. Rather, I am a victim of her mother, a disgruntled employee who manipulated her troubled and malleable daughter into making the false charges. Furthermore, my wife is a victim; my former employees who lost their jobs after I was arrested are victims; in fact, the girl herself was, in some ways, a victim of her mother’s vengeance. The motive was revenge and extortion. An email exchange and a police-recorded sting meeting between the girl and me were set-ups. The sting meeting recording was manipulated by the police to turn a recording that would have proven my innocence into one that suggests guilt.
We have evidence to prove all of these assertions, but we have been met with a solid wall of resistance by the sheriffs involved, the district attorney, and the attorney general. Our remaining hope is with the court system. But even that has failed us so far.
How did all this come about?
This is my story.
The origin of the false charges against me actually had their beginning in the successes I had had in medical research. In 1990, my team carried out the first human gene therapy clinical protocol. Gene therapy is, in brief, giving DNA with a good gene to a patient to replace a bad gene in order to cure a serious disease; this new technology has given hope to many patients and families. A whole gene therapy industry arose from this success where a number of investors and research workers, myself included, made a lot of money.
My Biotech Company, Its Collapse and Dr. Zhao’s Retaliation
Around 1998, an investor wanted me to start a new biotech company based on developing new medical products using DNA technology. I maintained my medical school laboratory while building up the new company. All went well for several years until the dot com bubble burst in 2001-2002. Our investor decided to pull his money out of the company in March, 2003, and the company collapsed in short order.
There is nothing unusual about a new small company failing. In this case, however, there were severe repercussions for me. I had founded the company with one of my senior staff people, Dr. Yi Zhao, a female Chinese medical doctor in whom I had great faith and trust. She acquired a high status in her community because of the prestige of her being a Senior Executive of an exciting new company that we all believed was going to be successful and would make her and her family rich. When the company folded and all the highly-qualified employees that she had helped hire (who were mostly Chinese scientists) had to be terminated, she lost significant face in her community. Although she kept it secret from me, I learned afterwards that she blamed me for her loss of status and excoriated me to her friends. I also learned that she made clear to others in my lab that she hated me and wanted revenge. All I knew at the time was that we appeared to have become somewhat estranged and her work performance had deteriorated. I still had my medical school lab that continued to support our gene therapy research and pay her diminished salary. I assumed that once I had acquired adequate new funding, all would be well again.
My Previous Efforts to Help Yusi He, the Troubled Daughter of Dr. Zhao
Several years prior to the collapse of the company and our subsequent estrangement, Yi Zhao had asked me to help with one of her identical twin daughters, Yusi He, then 8 years old who was socially dysfunctional, had no friends, only communicated through her twin sister and often flew into angry tirades for no apparent reason. The Los Angeles Children’s Services were about to remove Yusi from the family because of alleged physical abuse by the father. The family was desperate. Yi Zhao persuaded my wife, Kathy (who was Chief of Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles), and me to help them. I went with Yi Zhao and her husband to their interview with Children’s Services and I helped to resolve the situation. The family remained intact and they were very grateful.
Kathy and I spent considerable time with Yusi, at Yi Zhao’s request, and she greatly improved. Over the next 6-7 years she participated in team sports (soccer and softball), made friends, and did very well in school. After the collapse of the company (March, 2003), my relations with both Yi Zhao and Yusi were strained, but Yusi told me in April, 2003, that all would be okay with her if I treated her and her good friend to a very special 16th birthday. She wanted to go open-ocean kayaking and hot air ballooning with her girlfriend on the same day. Kathy and I agreed, and Yusi made all the arrangements. In retrospect, it appears that Yusi was inveigling my wife and me into funding what was, in effect, a courtship on Yusi’s part. Yusi publicly “came out” as a lesbian in an article in her college newspaper a year after I was sentenced, but I believe she was experiencing gender identity confusion during her high school years.
Yusi wanted a preview of the special birthday trip so that she could impress her girlfriend when they went together. So Kathy and I took Yusi and her twin sister for open-ocean kayaking and hot air ballooning on June 23, 2003. The girls had a great time kayaking, while Kathy and I walked around the town. However, we learned that the previous week a 15 year old girl was drowned during open-ocean kayaking. In addition, the hot air balloon that the 4 of us rode in flipped over during a rough landing and almost threw us all out. These frightening events completely changed Kathy’s and my view of the whole trip and I decided not to take Yusi and her friend on the proposed special birthday trip because of the danger. Yusi was furious and retaliated against me by telling a school counselor that I had touched her inappropriately. The counselor was obligated to report this claim of sexual abuse to the South Pasadena police. The police interviewed Yusi at her home, and she disclaimed her accusation to the counselor and told the police that no abuse had occurred. She also denied any abuse a second time when she was interviewed by the San Marino police. I knew nothing about these accusations and denials until after I was arrested more than a year later.
More of Yusi’s False Accusations
After no communication of any kind for 5 months, I received an email from Yusi just before Thanksgiving (November 20, 2003) and it was a rant at me for pushing her too hard academically. It ended with a single sentence: “And you sexually abused me.” Kathy and I were obviously alarmed at this, which we considered a cry for help, and we immediately called her. She acknowledged that there was never any sexual abuse and she explained that she wrote the last sentence to force me to answer. We had not communicated in several months and she told me that she feared that I would ignore her email. Kathy and I knew that Yusi and her sister were both teenage sex abuse counselors at Teenline (a phone counseling service for troubled teenagers), so her claim of “just getting your attention” with such a dramatic charge made at least a little bit of sense.
Subsequently, emails went back and forth in which she demanded an apology for academic pressure and I kept apologizing. But there appeared to be an undercurrent of the original sex abuse charge. Finally, I wrote her an email that told her not to write such implications because emails could be hacked into and that could ruin both our reputations. Things settled down after that and on February 7, 2004, we spoke on the phone. She apologized for her false accusations, said that she made them because of pressure from her mother, and promised she would explain it all in an email. However, when the email came it simply said: “I tried to write an epic explaining it, but I erased it all. Sorry, I really am.” Although the whole situation was very unsettling, I thought that the matter was ended, and so I, unwisely, let the issue drop and did not challenge Yi Zhao about her daughter’s statement that her mother had pressured her.
The Surreptitiously Recorded Meeting with Yusi
I did not hear from Yusi again for 4½ months, when I got an email saying that she wanted to get together again at the suggestion of her therapist. Under the impression that there would be some therapeutic benefit for Yusi, I agreed. We made arrangements by phone to meet the next day, July 1, 2004, at 1:30 p.m. in front of the local public library. She sounded very excited and happy about seeing me again, much like the girl we had been fond of, and I was happy that she seemed to have turned a corner in her troubled adolescence. Little did I suspect that she had made a complaint about me to the sheriff and that this was a law enforcement sponsored trap: a “sting” meeting.
When I arrived at the public library for our happy reunion, I called out: “Hi, Yusi”. She pointed a finger at me, glared, and angrily declared: “You ruined my life!” I was stunned. I had expected a happy friendly Yusi and instead she was angry, almost vicious. Then she said quietly: “Why did you molest me?” and I responded: “Oh, Yusi, not again. You know I didn’t.” What followed was a repeat of our November 20, 2003, phone call where she claimed that I had ruined her life with constant pressure for her to do better in school and sports. But she added a dramatic twist: she claimed that my pressure had pushed her to attempt suicide and she showed me fresh “suicide” cuts on her wrist! I was aghast that I was in some way responsible for her “suicide” attempt. I kept apologizing and apologizing, almost breaking down in confusion and emotion about a girl I assumed I had helped, but now feared I had damaged.
At the end of the 14 minute conversation, she again brought up the topic of sexual abuse, but this time in an almost business-like tone of voice. It was at this point that I began to suspect an extortion attempt. I just wanted out of there (it was a very public outdoor setting). So, although I never admitted to any abuse (how could I, since there was none!), I said whatever she wanted to hear in order to get away from this hysterical girl. These words were later twisted by the prosecutor to make it sound as if I had admitted to abuse.
Afterwards, I went straight home and talked with Kathy. After going over and over the entire conversation we came to the conclusion that this might very well have been the opening gambit in an extortion attempt. So we wrote a lengthy letter to the San Marino Police Department detailing all that had happened, questioned whether her false charges of sexual molestation might be a precursor to extortion, and asked the police for help. I hand-delivered the letter to Arl Farris, the Chief of Police. I knew him well because I had worked with him and his staff for many years. We discussed the whole situation.
Chief Farris had 2 members of the Sheriff’s Department, Deputies Boyett and Duncan, visit me a few days later. I talked freely with them and gave them access to my computer. They assured me that all was in order and that I probably needn’t worry about an extortion attempt.
Nothing happened for another 3 weeks and then suddenly: “We have a warrant for your arrest.”
I was shocked, but assumed that the accusations would be dismissed when I told my side of the story. How naïve! Disaster had struck!
What Was Really Going On
My trial took place two years after my arrest (arrest: July 30, 2004; trial: June 14 to July 19, 2006). What follows is what I learned before, during, and after my trial.
The He-Zhao Family Meeting
Both Yusi and her mother told the police that the family had a meeting in September, 2003, two months after the abortive 16th birthday trip and Yusi’s accusations and denials. At that meeting, the family discussed what they wanted to do. Yi Zhao and Yusi both expressed great anger at me. We now know that they also wanted revenge. I surmise that they felt that they could get their revenge on me, and get my money in addition, by falsely accusing me of sexually molesting Yusi when she was 11, 12, and 13. The claim would only be inappropriate touching: no penetration, threats, or force. Since her relationship with me was known to be very friendly up until March, 2003, (when Yusi was nearly 16 years old), they were reluctant to claim anything more serious. The plan was either to extort money directly via the false accusations, or go to the police, get me convicted, and then sue me.
The Email Frame-up
The first attempt at framing me was through emails. We now know that the email exchange was carefully orchestrated. Yusi’s emails to me (which she kept hidden from the police) challenged me with questions as to why I had pushed her so hard academically and in sports. That I had ruined her life. Then, after I responded, another email was written (but, we now have evidence, was never sent) which demanded answers to sexually explicit charges. These charges exactly matched up with my earlier email apologies to her accusations of academic pressure. Yusi saved these fraudulent emails as drafts in her Hotmail account. At trial, which was the first time we saw them, Yusi testified that she had sent them to me and my emails were in response to those sexually-explicit draft emails.
The prosecutors emphasized this apparent correlation of my emails with Yusi’s draft emails. When I testified that I had never seen those draft emails, the prosecutor said I was lying. He challenged me with the obvious direct correlation between the draft emails and my emails. I had no explanation. The prosecutor insisted that I had to have been responding to Yusi’s draft emails. He made clear to the jury that I had to be lying.
My trial attorney never investigated the draft emails (just as he never investigated the sting meeting recording). When my habeas attorney did so, we learned that the “meta-data” on the Hotmail server strongly indicated that those draft emails were never sent! This I knew, as I had not received them or anything like them.
Yi Zhao’s Treachery
After Yusi and my phone call and email exchange on February 7, 2004, where she tried to explain and apologize to me, it appears that Yusi did not want to pursue the false allegations any further. Her mother, Yi Zhao, did. So Yi Zhao plotted something despicable. She convinced one of my female Chinese graduate students (whom I had been pressuring to work harder) that I was “harassing” her. The student’s English was not good enough to know that when an older man “harasses” a young woman, there are sexual implications. Having gotten the young woman convinced that she was being “harassed”, Yi Zhao held a meeting of herself, the graduate student, and Yusi. Yi Zhao falsely told her daughter before the meeting that I was sexually pursuing the student. When the student acknowledged that I was “harassing” her, Yusi was enraged at me and left the meeting demanding: “Get me a lawyer!” Yusi related this story to the police and several other people. In retrospect, it appears that Yusi was emboldened to revive her false accusations because she was given misinformation that I was sexually harassing the graduate student.
Yi Zhao and Yusi went to a civil lawyer at the prominent law firm Jones Day in May, 2004, and spent a month with them preparing a case both for criminal charges and a following civil lawsuit. Yusi’s story was that she could not remember a single date, or even an event from which a date could be estimated (thereby preventing me from proving that I was out-of-town or for another reason could not have been with her), but that I had inappropriately “touched” her for years. A month later, with her story prepared, she went to the police.
Later, after I was arrested, Yi Zhao pressured that graduate student into filing formal charges against me with USC. When the student was interviewed by USC sexual harassment investigators, she readily insisted that she had been harassed. When she was asked about sexual harassment, she replied: “Oh no, nothing sexual ever happened.” When she was asked how she thought of me, she said: “Like a kind father.”
Obviously, the “harassment” charges were dropped by USC. I was shocked and disappointed that my formerly trusted lab director would manipulate a student into unintentionally making false charges against me in order to encourage her daughter into denouncing me, but I now see that there may have been cultural factors at work. Yi Zhao had a terrible childhood growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China with two professors for parents. At the age of around 10, she had to denounce her parents in order to save herself, and then had to live through any guilt she felt as her parents were severely persecuted. It would not be hard to denounce her boss after this experience in China had hardened her. As she once put it to Kathy in a confidential moment: “I was raised on wolf’s milk”.
The Prosecutorial Juggernaut
Once Yusi told the police that she had been sexually molested, the case took on a life of its own and there was nothing that she could do to stop it. Why? Because I was a “trophy” case: a trophy case is one that generates a great deal of publicity for the District Attorney’s (DA’s) office and brings about promotions for the prosecutors. I was a Professor at a major medical school who had an international reputation along with many awards and honors as well as 5 honorary doctorates for having developed the field of gene therapy.
Here are some of the objective indicia that my case was prosecuted for public relations reasons independent of the purported evidence:
1. Sergeant Boyett’s Grand Jury testimony where he testified: “We knew that Anderson was a famous person. We knew that this case could get phenomenal coverage by the media…” (and it did, with 100% of the press interviews coming from the DA’s office itself).
2. For one of the only times in the history of Los Angeles, the DA’s office held a televised press conference simultaneously with having me ambush-arrested as I drove to work. The world was informed that the Los Angeles Sheriffs had caught a dangerous criminal!
3. Extensive ongoing prosecutor-initiated press stories were produced regularly by Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Cathryn Brougham for the 2 years between my arrest and trial.
4. The sentencing portion of my trial was televised with reporters, news photographers, and television crews crowding the courtroom.
5. Each year, the DA’s office has to submit an Annual Report and Budget Justification to the County Board of Supervisors. With all the murders, rapes, robberies, gang activity, and drug dealings to choose from, the 2007 Annual Report highlighted my conviction as their number one case of the year!
6. The prosecutor in my case, DDA Cathryn Brougham, was made a Superior Court judge after winning my conviction.
The Police Misconduct Regarding the Surreptitious Recording
I described the July 1, 2004 meeting above. At the time, I did not realize that the meeting was recorded. The problem was that, once the police listened to the recording, they had to have realized that the recording supported my statement to Chief Farris that I had not done anything improper. I first heard the recorded statement shortly after I was arrested and I immediately recognized that it was altered from the actual conversation that had occurred. Gone was Yusi’s initial accusation, “You ruined my life,” and the conversation that followed.
Detective Kurt Ebert, who handled the technical side of police recordings, had edited the recording to turn it into evidence suggesting guilt. We later proved that he deleted the first 2 minutes of the conversation where it was obvious that Yusi was setting me up, and he moved phrases around in the conversation resulting in very damaging effects. For example, Yusi’s “Why did you molest me?” at the very beginning of the deleted two minutes when I denied it, got moved to the middle of the conversation where it replaced her question: “Why did you push me?” My response was: “Because I thought it would help you”, an appropriate response to the question I was actually asked, but a rather absurd answer to the question in the edited recording. Nonetheless, the rearranging of the conversation by editing enabled the prosecution to claim that this was a “confession”. There were a number of other edits used to twist the sense of the conversation and attempt to make me sound guilty. I told my attorney at the outset that the recording was altered, but he failed to follow-up or investigate it.
It took nearly a month for the police to finally decide to arrest me (the sting meeting was on July 1; I was not arrested until July 30). Clearly, if the sting meeting recording had indicated guilt, I would have, I should have, been arrested immediately. The fact that it took nearly a month to make that decision strongly suggests that something unusual was going on.
The Failure of the Police to Find Any Incriminating or Corroborating Evidence
The sheriffs searched my home and computers for any evidence that would corroborate Yusi’s accusation, but no pornography or any incriminating material was found on any of my computers or in my home or office. Nothing corroborated Yusi’s accusations, and items that would be likely found in my home, if her story were true, were conspicuously absent. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent sending police agents all over the country interviewing every young person that I had ever dealt with; all of them insisted that I had to be innocent. I had a close friend who worked directly with the DA’s office who told me that some in the DA’s office felt that my case was a “turkey” and they needed to “develop an exit strategy”. Again, I thought it would all be over soon. Not so.
The False Maryland Case
A man, Tony V, whom I had counseled (along with other troubled youths) 20 years before in Maryland when he was a 15 year old delinquent, called DDA Cathryn Brougham in August and offered his services. In the mid-1980’s, Tony V had wanted me to be a character witness for him after he was caught stealing some assault rifles. I refused, and he vowed revenge on me. This was now his revenge. Tony must have offered to say whatever Brougham wanted because Brougham made up a story, and had the now 35 year old go to the Maryland police and relate the story. Brougham had me re-arrested (since I was out on bail), and waged another massive publicity campaign announcing “victims across the country”. I had to report to jail in Maryland.
Tony’s contrived story fell apart on close investigation. For example, he described in great detail various sexual acts that allegedly took place in the various rooms in the Maryland house that he assumed that Kathy and I had been living in 20 years before. However, the details he related of events that supposedly took place were in a house that was not built until 7 years later! Brougham had had the Maryland police take Tony through the newly built massive house that is now sitting on the site where our small bungalow had sat 20 years before. Tony called it a mansion. The neighboring houses had also been torn down and large expensive homes had been built. Tony and Brougham were unaware that the house the police took him through was completely different from the original house. Thus, he and Brougham did not know that his contrived story could easily be proven false. Maryland dropped the case, but Brougham had gotten what she wanted: even more massive publicity emphasizing how dangerous I was. All of this was, of course, to influence the future jury panel.
Damage from the Pre-Trial Publicity Campaign
My case was, unfortunately, very newsworthy. It was salacious. An older prominent man accused of taking sexual advantage of an apparently innocent girl. Because I was so well known as a medical scientist, my case made headlines in newspapers around the world. Brougham took full advantage of this.
The sordid details that appeared in the press were fabrications planted by Brougham in the Los Angeles Times and/or the wire services. These details (along with the rest of the false accusations) never happened. Most of the material in the press was never mentioned at trial, but it certainly did influence the future jury panel as the voir dire (i.e., the jury selection procedure) vividly demonstrated.
Judge Pastor had arranged for three large jury panels (75-80 potential jurors in each) because of the difficulty in getting a jury for a long trial, particularly during the summer. But when he questioned the first panel, not a single one of them raised their hand when he asked if anyone had heard of the case. When he asked who could be available for a two month trial, not a single panel member had anything else to do for the next two months except sit on that jury. Judge Pastor was stunned and repeatedly told the panel how unexpected that was. I looked at Brougham: she was smiling! The panel of potential jurors had clearly been influenced, if only subconsciously, by the pre-trial publicity.
Adverse stories continued to be supplied to the press by the prosecution. In fact, even now after 9½ years, there has rarely been a single word in the press that I might be innocent. That is one of the reasons why I have written this document, “My Story”. Yusi, however, seemed to seek publicity. For example, on the day that my verdict was announced she had a large page 1 above the fold color picture of her face (and name) published in the Pasadena Star News next to the headline that the Anderson verdict was expected soon.
My attorney, Barry Tarlow, was highly recommended as a top lawyer, but he had no experience in defending against false child abuse allegations. He pursued legal maneuvers that, at the time, generated considerable courtroom sound and fury, but were in the main misdirected. He scheduled 2 dozen hearings where he pursued minor issues of case law, but he never investigated the draft emails or the sting meeting recording. Instead, he simply accepted the police claim that the recording was accurate and had not been altered, in spite of my repeated insistence that it had been altered. Nonetheless, I had faith in the system and was convinced that I would never be convicted of a crime that I did not commit. Again, I was so naïve! Innocent citizens are imprisoned every day. But I did not know that at the time.
When the verdict came back “Guilty”, I was shocked. How could this have happened? But incredibly, I still believed in our criminal justice system. Since all the prison and court-appointed psychologists/psychiatrists who examined me recommended probation instead of jail time, I felt that I would be given probation while I continued to collect evidence to prove my innocence. But when I came up for sentencing in February, 2007, I was stunned to be sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
The day after I was sentenced I wrote out in pencil on dozens of sheets of paper a complete narration of my whole case. That “Statement” (43 single spaced typed pages) was used by my habeas attorney as a start for developing the petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus that was submitted to the court.
New Revelations Concerning Yusi He and Yi Zhao
While the Los Angeles criminal justice system has circled the wagons to keep us away from an evidentiary hearing, the habeas team has investigated Yusi He, the alleged “victim”, and the mother, Yi Zhao. Several shocking facts have been uncovered.
First, emails between Yusi and her girlfriend, AL, written prior to when she first accused me, have been discovered in trial attorney Barry Tarlow’s files. These emails, never known to me or used by Tarlow, revealed that the 2 teenage girls were talking about efforts to try to get the club soccer coach fired, by accusing him of encouraging team members to drink. Apparently, the plan switched from him to me after the collapse of our biotech company, Farmal, and the charge was changed to sexual abuse. Yusi’s plan was to charge me with molesting her in my car. However, when AL asked, Yusi made clear in their email exchange that her complaint against me was “not anything bad”, but was just my pressuring her to do well and not listening to her. Clearly, Yusi was not the innocent girl that the prosecutors made her out to be.
Second, Yusi, immediately out of college and with minimal teaching experience, was suddenly appointed as the Administrator and public contact person for the American Indian Charter School II in Oakland, California, by the Founder and Superintendent of the school, Ben Chavis. Two remarkable events occurred: Ben Chavis was accused by the school’s Board of Trustees of embezzling money from the school, which he used for his own personal expenditures. Also, the test scores of the students on national testing jumped from being acceptable to being, impossibly, the best in the area. As Administrator, Yusi was apparently in charge of the students’ tests. With these accusations leveled by the County School Board and referred to the District Attorney, Yusi resigned and left the school. Yusi’s lying about me appears to be just one example of a lifelong pattern of dishonest behavior. For example, when Yusi was interviewed by the police social worker after making her charges against me, she said: “I’m a teenager, of course I lie”.
Third, the mother, Yi Zhao, was also active before and after I was arrested. She filed a patent in China on July 4, 2003, for work that had been done at Farmal and which had already been submitted for a patent in the U.S. and worldwide by USC. The USC patent contained all the appropriate names including mine and hers. Former Farmal employees, with me as an advisor, formed a small new biotech company. Yi Zhao was also originally part of this biotech company, but was later asked to resign because of a conflict of interest. Sometime after Yi Zhao’s resignation she called and sent letters to the U. S. Government (NIH) claiming that the small biotech company did not exist and that the former employees were collecting NIH grants fraudulently. These charges were shown to be false by the biotech company.
It appears that from at least as early as July 4, 2003, Yi Zhao had been providing confidential information from Farmal/USC to the Chinese military, showing how the molecule Interleukin 12 (IL-12) can be used to provide treatment for acute radiation injury. This treatment procedure has obvious military value. Currently, the biotech company has a multi-million dollar contract from the Health and Human Services (HHS) to eventually provide IL-12 to the U.S. Government, while Yi Zhao is one of the authors on a paper published in a Chinese medical journal, from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing, China, entitled: “Radiation Protection Effect of rhIL-12 on Monkey Hematopoietic System”. Although Yi Zhao had always been, and still remains, at USC, she and Jichen He (Yi Zhao’s husband who is not a scientist) were listed in the Chinese military paper with a Chinese affiliation and no U. S. affiliation. All of this is clearly scientific misconduct, if not worse.
The critical day in this whole sordid story was June 30, 2004. On that single day, our private investigator has obtained written documentation that 4 critical events occurred:
1. I wrote a letter to a Chinese military laboratory with which Yi Zhao had contact refusing to send our laboratory’s valuable biomedical reagents to them.
2. Robert Monks, the primary investor in Farmal, signed a secret “settlement” agreement with USC on technology (i.e., IL-12) that the Chinese military wanted.
3. Yi Zhao pressured me to send (and I did) a letter to USC to give her a major pay raise and to name her the new laboratory chief if “anything should happen to me”.
4. Yusi contacted me requesting a meeting with her (the police-instigated sting meeting) for the next day on July 1 which directly resulted in something happening to me!
It is the strong feeling of our private investigator, as well as those who have seen all the evidence, that these 4 events, all occurring on the day before the “sting” meeting, were intimately interconnected and point to a frightening conclusion: the false charges against me were not just for personal revenge and money, but were part of a successful effort to transfer valuable confidential biomedical information to the Chinese military. This investigation is ongoing.
It is my feeling that this family has caused, and continues to cause, far more damage than just the destruction of my life and that of my wife. How naïve I was to think that I could have helped this amoral family!
All of this new information about Yusi He and Yi Zhao tends to explain a puzzle. The large law firm Jones Day, who represented Yusi He’s “interests”, had two to three attorneys at every one of the 2 dozen or so pre-trial hearings and at every day of the month-long trial. After I was found guilty, they could easily have won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against me. Yet they did not sue. Why not? It now appears that Jones Day had either learned or suspected that Yusi’s story was false and therefore a conscientious civil lawyer on my behalf, after a proper investigation, could have destroyed their case. Why else would they not have sued?
The Long Road Toward Exoneration
We were able to obtain data to establish the falseness of every piece of damaging evidence used against me by the prosecution. My attorney tells me that to legally prove the fraudulent nature of the prosecution’s evidence, we need access to subpoenas, compulsory process, depositions, etc. We believe that if a court grants us an evidentiary hearing, we will be able to prove false all of the prosecution’s evidence (see Habeas Corpus Relief below).
Unfortunately, because of the massive resistance put up by the police and prosecutors, this effort to obtain my exoneration has already taken over 7 long years and is still ongoing. The core of the prosecution’s case was the audio recording of the police-instigated sting meeting between the alleged victim, Yusi He, and me. The trial transcript shows that the prosecutors referred to this alleged “confession” more than 20 times during the trial. We proved that that audio recording was manipulated by the police in multiple places so that a recording that would have proven my innocence was converted into a recording that suggested guilt.
I was convicted in July, 2006, because of the determined treachery of Yusi and her mother, the email frame-up, the sting meeting set-up, the fabrication of evidence by the police, and the fact that I could not get my trial attorney, Barry Tarlow, to do any investigation of the draft emails or the sting meeting recording. He maintained that police recordings could not be edited and, therefore, my claims of tampering had to be wrong. Even though the one forensic expert he did use, John Russ, advised him that the authenticity of the recording needed to be investigated, Tarlow refused, in spite of my strenuous objections. Tarlow accepted, and forced me to accept at trial (on pain of his abandoning my case), the integrity of the recording. Hearing that manipulated recording and reading the fraudulent emails, the judge and jury considered me guilty. If I had been on the jury and heard all that fabricated evidence (with no hint that it might be fabricated), I would have voted for “Guilty” also!
By another year, in early 2008, Kathy and I were desperate. That was when a longtime friend, Pablo Valencia, who is a signal processing expert, stepped in. He had already founded a support organization, FOFA (Friends of French Anderson). But when we could not get any defense attorney to do anything (except take our money), he acted. My wife bought him a copy of the forensic software DC7, the software used by forensic experts to analyze digital audio recordings for possible editing (when DC8 came out, we used it) and he set to work. The entire recording was 78 minutes long which began with Detective Jester turning on the recorder and giving it to Yusi, the 45 minutes that Yusi waited for me, 12 minutes of the original 14 minute conversation, and the time after the meeting when Yusi was waiting for Detective Jester to meet her. Pablo spent dozens of hours going through the 78 minute recording a few milliseconds at a time on his home computer. Then on March 17, 2008, a day that I will always remember, he found the first forensic evidence of tampering: the site where a deletion occurred. Finally, a sign of light at the end of the tunnel!
With this confirmation, we hired a truly marvelous human being and attorney, Doug Otto. Doug came on board in the summer of 2008; that is when real progress started to be made. Finally, in early 2011, we had our case.
Analysis of the Prosecution’s Case
The case against me was based on three lines of evidence:
1. Yusi’s trial testimony
2. Draft emails containing damaging questions from Yusi allegedly sent to me, to which I appeared to give ambiguous answers.
3. The secretly recorded police conversation between Yusi and me in which I appeared to give ambiguous answers to damaging questions.
I am innocent and I have continuously and adamantly maintained my innocence. No physical or forensic evidence existed or was introduced: the evidence was entirely anecdotal or recorded and subject to being edited. No third party (even her twin sister) or other witness was ever discovered or called who could corroborate any incriminating information provided by Yusi. No pornography or any other damaging evidence was found on any of my computers or in a search of my home and laboratory office. Despite an extensive nationwide search along with major publicity, no other credible victim was found.
The habeas team compiled overwhelming evidence that:
1. Yusi herself was shown to have lied repeatedly under oath; she was impeached a total of 39 times during cross examination, including a number of critical admissions.
2. The draft emails allegedly sent by Yusi claiming sexual abuse were never sent, but rather were composed after Yusi had sent to me relatively innocuous emails (which she never provided to the police; I never thought to save any of these emails) complaining of too much academic pressure from me and demanding apologies. It appears that the unsent, undated carefully-crafted draft emails were placed in Yusi’s Draft Folder on the Hotmail server after I sent responses to the innocuous emails, making my apologies for academic pressure sound like apologies for sexual abuse.
3. The sting meeting recording was intentionally altered by the police to turn a recording that would have proven my innocence into one in which I appeared guilty. The detailed analysis, carried out by specialists in analyzing digital recordings, proved that the recording used to convict me was not the original recording, was not a true copy of an original recording, had key material added to it, and had key material deleted from it. In fact, Jester provided Ebert with an 85 minute recording, but the recording that Ebert gave to the court was only 78 minutes in length. What happened to the other 7 minutes? One of the deletions produced the physically impossible situation of Yusi walking one moment in one location and, an instant later, talking to me 60 feet away in another location. Other evidence demonstrating tampering included: background sounds that make sudden jumps indicating deletions or additions, intervals between spoken sounds that are impossibly short, and other auditory and electronic anomalies and discontinuities that prove that this crucial recording had been tampered with.
As a consequence, substantial amounts of new evidence have been discovered, which were never properly developed by the defense team and/or were actively suppressed by the prosecution and therefore were not known to the trial judge or the jury.
Thus, every piece of damaging evidence used against me had been fabricated either by Yusi herself (much of her original testimony and the draft emails) or by the police (the sting recording). Since the original defense team carried out no investigations and discovered none of this critical evidence, no evidence of innocence was presented to the judge or jury, apart from my own testimony, which was likely viewed with great skepticism in the absence of corroborating evidence. In this regard, exculpatory evidence pointing to my innocence was excluded from the trial, including among many other things:
1. That I, myself, had gone to the police after the disturbing conversation with Yusi (the prosecutor successfully objected to the jury being told this because that action “would be construed by the jury that Anderson must have been innocent”). In fact, the prosecutor also persuaded Judge Pastor to keep out of the trial the long letter that I had written to the San Marino Police Department, the fact that I spoke personally with the Police Chief, the transcript of the secretly recorded interview of me in my home by Sheriff Deputies Boyett and Duncan, and the transcript of Detective Jester’s interrogation of me after I was arrested. All of this information was exculpatory and consistent and all of it was kept away from the jury based on DDA Brougham’s objections to the judge at sidebars (out of the jury’s hearing); her arguments were all variations of her objection (as documented in the trial transcript) that “[that information] would be construed by the jury that Anderson must have been innocent.” Judge Pastor agreed that all this information would “confuse” the jury.
2. That I could not have any previous students or mentees testify as to their very positive experiences with me.
3. That I could not have any witnesses testify as to my character.
I have recently learned from one of my biographers that Brougham had subpoenaed his recordings on all the many dozens of interviews he had carried out when he was writing my biography. There were no negative comments with respect to my character. Brougham kept the recordings for a long time. Later, in a court hearing, she argued to Judge Pastor that I should not be allowed any character witnesses or any previous mentees as witnesses. My attorney objected to that. Pastor then allowed me to have just 4 witnesses, but they could only be asked one question: What is Dr. Anderson’s reputation for honesty? No other supportive testimony was allowed.
The judge and jury were convinced by the altered sting meeting recording and other fabricated evidence that I was guilty. Judge Pastor, during sentencing, repeatedly told the courtroom full of my supporters: “You had to have heard the recording”. Judge Pastor then sentenced me to 14 years in state prison. I would have to serve 85% of this sentence: a virtual death penalty for a 70 year old man.
Habeas Corpus Relief: The petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, based primarily on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, was submitted on May 3, 2011. I won an Order to Show Cause (OSC) just 9 days later on May 12. This was very positive news because it indicated that the Court of Appeal believed that we had made a prima facie case for relief. The Attorney General’s office had 30 days to object in what is called a “return”.
The Attorney General (AG) made multiple requests for extensions of time. During that period, the habeas team continued their work and, on December 16, a Habeas Supplement was filed on my behalf that contained a great deal of additional technical evidence. The Court accepted the Supplement on December 28 and gave the AG until the end of February, 2012, to file their return. On February 3, the AG was granted yet another 30 day extension to the end of March, and then further 30 day extensions until the end of July. Finally, on August 1, 2012, the AG submitted their return which ignored all our technical data, claimed that the police would never fabricate evidence so that if there were any alterations in the recording they had to be innocent, and besides, Anderson had to be guilty so any evidence to the contrary could not be very important. We continue to face the stone wall of police and prosecutorial denial. Clearly, we still have a lot of work cut out for us; we have not yet reached the end of the long road.
On October 24, 2012, we were finally able to submit our response to the Attorney General in what is called a Traverse. The Traverse urges the court to allow us to have an evidentiary hearing so that all our evidence of innocence can be formally presented.
On December 26, an Amicus Curiae Brief was filed in the court in my case by 14 international experts in the area of authentication of digital audio recordings. The Brief points out that the police recording in my case was not properly authenticated, that digital audio recordings are difficult to authenticate, but procedures do exist, and that the rules of evidence should be changed to require definitive procedures for proper authentication of digital audio recordings. Stephen Mason, the Editor of the legal journal, Digital Evidence and Electronic Signature Law Review, published the Brief intact in volume 10, 2013 of the journal (Brandeis Brief in the case In re William French Anderson).
On March 8, 2013 the court announced that they would hear oral arguments on April 9. In the oral arguments on April 9, my attorney, Doug Otto, urged the court to allow us an evidentiary hearing where we could present our extensive data on the doctored evidence.
On June 18, we received the discouraging news that our entire habeas petition had been denied! The court said that having an evidentiary hearing would be “an idle act”. The A.G. had our forensic evidence thoroughly vetted and concluded that they cannot object to it on a scientific basis, so they chose not to challenge it but rather to simply claim that “the police would never fabricate evidence”. No one has presented a single piece of data against our comprehensive evidence from nationally–recognized authorities proving that the recording was altered. All the attorney general and the court have done is to say that Detective Ebert and the “victim” testified that the recording is authentic and that makes it authentic. The court never mentioned the Amicus Curiae brief that we had filed from a group of international experts who emphasized that personal assurances by the makers of a recording are not sufficient to prove authenticity. Mere words cannot dismiss solid scientific evidence of tampering.
Furthermore, and even more appalling, the Appeal Court itself manipulated evidence to bolster its rulings. On page 2 of Presiding Justice Joan Dempsey Klein’s habeas denial ruling (6/17/2013) is a long Summary quoting directly from their appeal denial of 7/26/2012. To support its claim that “Emails Anderson sent to her …corroborate her testimony.” they quoted (from later in their appeal denial ruling) one of my emails, advising her not to be talking about sexual abuse because emails could easily be hacked into. The appeal court intentionally deleted the exculpatory sentences: “Sleaze reporters would be all over South Pas HS interviewing all your classmates and team mates looking for dirt; likewise, all over USC. They would find no dirt because neither of us has ever done anything, but it would not stop the lies being told.” Without that crucial wording, that email could be (and was) interpreted as “corroborating her testimony”. But with those sentences, the email is relatively harmless. Unbelievably, the Appeal Court deleted those exonerating sentences in quoting the email in their ruling. In addition, the Appeal Court removed the quotation marks around the critical word “confessions” which thereby altered the entire tone of the email. It is one thing for police and prosecutors to fabricate and manipulate evidence, but it is quite another for the appeal court to manipulate evidence to confirm their preformed opinion.
The claim by the many legal scholars and Innocence Projects around the country that our current criminal justice system is broken appears to be true. At least it is broken here in Los Angeles.
On October 15, 2013, we submitted a Petition for Review to the California Supreme Court. All we had asked for was an evidentiary hearing where we could place our new evidence (now over 3 years old) before the court.
On December 16 we received the devastating news that our Petition for Review was denied. My confidence in justice from the court system is shaken. It is time for me to fight back. We have set up a web site in order to make all the evidence public. I have written an Open Letter to friends and colleagues which is published on the web site (www.wfrenchanderson.org), along with court documents and other documents. After losing the past 9½ years with more years to do in state prison, at 77 years of age I am fighting for my life.
Thoughts on My Lost Career
I feel a bit like Mohammed Ali – my most productive years were taken from me. I had just spent nearly four years part-time at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) working in the Applied Physics Department on nanotechnology. We had preliminary data for 3 major projects that combined the DNA work I was doing in my USC lab with the nanotechnology work I was doing at Caltech. After I was arrested, I had to drop all three.
First, we were developing a hand-held DNA testing device that could get an individual-specific DNA profile at the crime scene itself within minutes. By running the profile against the FBI DNA database (using the Internet), police could potentially identify a suspect within minutes while at the crime scene, rather than days later.
Second, I had developed a project with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the military research funding agency that potentially could identify a biological agent being used as a biowarfare agent on the battlefield in real time. I had met with the DARPA folks in Virginia and they had said that they wanted to fund the project; that I should write it up and send it to them. I was in the middle of writing the grant when I was arrested.
And third, I had submitted a $15 million grant to the Gates Foundation to use our DNA/gene therapy/nanotechnology work to attack some of the major health problems in Africa. This collaborative project involved 5 leading research labs in this country and England, as well as a major public health program in Africa itself. The grant was favorably received, but was canceled once I was arrested.
I really do feel like Mohammed Ali. Fortunately for him, he only lost 3 years and was able to fight his way back. I have lost 9½ years and there is no way that I can recover. Those projects and my gene therapy research are dead.
Thoughts on Freedom
While awaiting exoneration, I have been asked: “What do you plan to do first when you get out?” My response: “Hug my wife, play with my dog, and breathe in the air of freedom.”
When I was wrongly convicted in July, 2006, I was, of course, very angry and very bitter. How could this terrible miscarriage of justice have happened to me? Now I know the answer to that question: our current criminal justice system is badly flawed and has grown out of control, and the public is not even aware of it. Many innocent men and women have been proven to be wrongly convicted using modern forensic techniques, such as DNA testing.
We are a deeply moral society and it is morally wrong for us, as a society, to close our eyes to this grossly unjust situation. Judges and juries send innocent men and women to prison because they trust prosecutors, and too many current-day prosecutors and police lie to judges and juries.
What can be done? First, the public must be awakened to the fact that our current criminal justice system cries out for reform. This is no secret in the legal community: there have been dozens of books, many dozens of law articles, dozens of exposés in the media by investigative reporters, a number of state crime commissions (including one here in California), and a number of Innocence Projects, all of which have pointed out the seriousness of the problem. But the public assumes that the justice system works and does not want to hear otherwise.
I did not want to hear otherwise, before I was wrongly convicted myself and sent to prison. I had admired, trusted, and worked with the criminal justice system for more than 40 years. I had given forensic science seminars to police in courses at both the state and the national levels. I had written a book on crime scene analysis that the FBI still uses in the training of new agents. I even carried a police badge. But I never let myself hear the pleas of the wrongly convicted. But we all need to hear those pleas.
Why? Because anyone can be wrongly convicted in our current perverted justice system. There are thousands of innocent men and women, like me, who have been wrongly convicted, and more who are being wrongly convicted right now, and who, wrongly incarcerated, are forced to live in prison along with the monsters who need to be in prison. Estimates by legal scholars indicate that there may be as many as 100,000 innocent citizens wrongly imprisoned in this country. 100,000. That would mean that 1 out of every 20 incarcerated “felons” is actually innocent! That could be you, or your son or daughter, or spouse, or close friend. I contend that any criminal justice system that has 100,000 of its innocent citizens wrongly imprisoned is not providing justice, but instead is badly flawed and is crying out for reform.
It is imperative to preserve the public trust in the integrity and reliability of our justice system. At the moment, the public maintains its trust, but as the number continuously escalates of wrongly convicted innocent men and women being released from prison after exoneration, that public trust will become increasingly eroded. Acknowledgement that avoidable mistakes can be prevented through the implementation of well-recognized simple reforms is critical to ensure that public trust and confidence are not lost.
One simple measure would be to take a lesson from my case and require that any audio recording allowed in as evidence be properly authenticated. Supreme Court rulings have already established this requirement, but judges trust prosecutors who falsely claim that police digital recordings cannot be edited. That is wrong! I have spent more than 7 years in prison because my trial judge, Michael Pastor, trusted the prosecutor, Cathryn Brougham, when she falsely claimed that the fabricated police recording that sent me to prison was absolutely authentic and accurate. How many other totally innocent men and women are wrongly imprisoned because of recordings manipulated by the police?
After 7½ years in prison, I can say that I would not wish the evil of prison life on my worst enemy. It is time for the families with a wrongly convicted loved one to make their feelings known. The wrongly imprisoned and their families need a voice to speak out on their behalf. Perhaps that is how I can turn my own horrible, unjust experience into something useful. I can campaign for them; I can campaign to protect you and your loved ones from being caught up in the shameful net of the criminal justice system; I can join those who are already working and campaigning for meaningful reform. I will be a face and a voice for the faceless and voiceless victims of our current critically-flawed criminal justice system.