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Gov. Brown grants full pardon to Army veteran convicted of crime 11 years ago

The person who accused Earl Bain of sexual abuse recanted her story in 2015 and has since maintained the crime didn't happen. There was no other evidence.
Credit: Earl Bain / Oregon Innocence Project
Earl Bain and his daughters Joanna and Bailey.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Earl Bain, an Army veteran convicted of sexual abuse by a non-unanimous jury in Malheur County in 2009, has received a full pardon from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

According to the Oregon Innocence Project (OIP), which has worked on Bain's case for the past five years, Bain was convicted and served six years in prison despite a lack of physical evidence or witnesses. The person who accused Bain of sexual abuse recanted her story in 2015 and has since maintained the crime never happened. Bain's pardon is supported by Dave Goldthorpe, the district attorney in Malheur County.

"The Governor's decision to grant you a pardon is based on the unique circumstances of your case," wrote Dustin Buehler, general counsel for the office of Gov. Brown, "including but not limited to the recantation of the allegations underlying your conviction; the lack of any other evidence to support that conviction; the fact that the Malheur County District Attorney fully supports your application for a pardon based on a claim of true innocence; and your crime-free life since the conviction."

Read the letter from Gov. Brown's office and the official order

Bain said the pardon marks a new beginning for him and his family.

"This is something I’ve been fighting for over the past 11 years," Bain said. "There have been times I wanted to give up on life, but now I feel like I can breathe again. This is a new beginning for me and my family. Now I can finally live without the fear and the worry. I am so thankful that Governor Brown has done this for me."

Bain, who served six years in the Army National Guard, now lives in Idaho. He works for a company that produces decorative metalwork.

Credit: Earl Bain / Oregon Innocence Project
Earl Bain and his daughters Joanna and Bailey.
Credit: Earl Bain / Oregon Innocence Project
Earl Bain and his partner Rachel McSweeney.

Bain's pardon was granted on the grounds of innocence, a rare occurrence according to OIP.

"This is the first pardon the governor has granted on innocence grounds, and it is an exceedingly rare event throughout the US for a pardon to be given on this basis," OIP said in a press release.

OIP attorneys initially tried to get Bain's conviction overturned through the courts, but the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, with one judge dissenting, and denied a rehearing.