Tim White spent five years in prison. He was beaten behind bars in Costa Rica, went without seeing his kids for over a decade and the police officer that put him behind bars was having sex with his wife.
Now, after four trials and 13 years of controversy, White will receive over $15 million from the city of Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
Back in 1998, White’s then wife, Tina, reported to police that her husband had sexually abused their adolescent daughter. The detective involved in the case was Richard McKinley, and despite making it clear to his superiors that he was romantically involved with Mrs. White, he was allowed to continue working on the case.
The investigation was largely flawed and crucial evidence was discussed but never seen. White fled the country to take refuge in Costa Rica, only to spend a year behind bars (and beaten) there before eventually moved to a US prison to serve time for sexual abuse on a child. Five years after the fact, a jury determined that Officer McKinley had manipulated evidence and conspired with Mrs. White in order to land a conviction.
Three trials and several years after it all first erupted, White was acquitted in 2005. He sued McKinley and the former Mrs. White, as well as the city of Lee’s Summit. He was awarded $16 million in 2008, but because of a loophole the city had found, they cited an ordinance which allowed them to forgo forking over the fees.
After US District Judge Nanette Laughrey threatened to tear the case apart “piece by piece, molecule by molecule,” Lee’s Summit got scared. Now, 13 years later, White is looking at $15.5 million.
Speaking out after the settlement, White says that it is hard to get past the fact that the detective “stole” his children. Officer McKinley has married Tina White since the case first started up.
“I haven’t seen them for years. They are worth more to me than $15 million,” White says about his children.
“I used to pray for that man to take care of my children, and he was the one who put me in jail.”
White lashed out against the legal system, saying he hopes for a change in the way justice is carried out in America. McKinley had told his superior, Lee’s Summit police chief Ken Conlee, about the affair only three months into the investigation, but that didn’t change anything about the trial. Even prosecutors knew about the relationship but did nothing about it.
“Shame on those who knew the truth and did not come forth,”says White. “We have a right to stand up for our rights even when people try and abuse the system for their own benefit.”
White was originally sentenced to 50 years in prison for the crime he never committed.