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ARGUED SEPTEMBER 9, 2009

Before FLAUM, EVANS, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

The central event underlying this case evokes what is surely every parent’s most visceral fear. In the early morning hours of June 6, 2004, three-year-old Riley Fox was taken from her home in Wilmington, Illinois. She was bound with duct tape, sexually assaulted, and drowned in a creek. Riley’s parents, Kevin and Melissa Fox, claim that in the midst of their efforts to cope with this trauma, local detectives subjected them to a whole new nightmare. According to the Foxes, the defendants framed Kevin for Riley’s murder, coerced him until he agreed to a “confession” that the detectives concocted, and caused him to be jailed (and facing the death penalty) on a charge of first-degree murder. The prosecutor eventually dropped the charge after DNA testing excluded Kevin as the donor of DNA found on Riley’s body. In the meantime, Kevin spent eight months in jail, separated from his grieving wife and seven-year-old son, while his reputation in the small community where they lived was thoroughly smeared. To this day, no one else has been charged with Riley’s murder.

 
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