Charges dropped against veteran wrongfully accused of crime

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State and local leaders came together Saturday in Bridgeport to help a man regain his reputation after they say he was wrongly accused of a crime and suspended from his job.

All charges against 44-year-old Larry Rice have been dropped in New Haven Superior Court, ending a year-long nightmare for the Bridgeport veteran.

"It destroyed my life. I don't have any more life. You can't shake that," Rice said.

Police records obtained by News 12 Connecticut show that Rice, a decorated U.S. Army veteran with a master's degree in social work and no previous criminal record, was accused of performing a lewd act in front of school children near East Rock Park in New Haven in the summer of 2018.

Officials say it was a classic case of profiling that led to his arrest.

"And what we're calling for today is justice through our judicial system to ensure that we change the laws in our state to help with individuals who are falsely accused of something, and the collateral damage of what that means when there is a digital footprint that follows the person the rest of their life," said Rev. Dr. Herron Gaston Summerfield United Methodist Church.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim added his voice to a chorus of condemnation for Rice's arrest.

"This is not only unfair, it's an injustice," Ganim said.

As he faces the uphill battle of trying to get his good reputation back, Rice says he's grateful that Bridgeport has his back.

“I love this community. I'm from here, I've been all over the world, the Middle East, I was a military contractor when the war started. I've been all over and there's nothing like this community,” Rice said, who added that he is considering filling a civil suit against the New Haven Police Department.

 

 

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