UVA Law School searches for victims of rogue cop in Norfolk
Robert Glenn Ford is best known for helping to convict the Norfolk Four – sailors accused of rape and murder, even though no forensic evidence tied them to the crimes. His reputation as a dirty cop was no secret in certain circles according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi.
“If you go into communities in Norfolk and you speak to people of a certain age, they know his name," Fatehi says. "They have stories.”
Ford reportedly forced suspects to confess. At UVA’s Law School, Professor Deirdre Enright says she knows of a dozen cases of wrongful conviction involving Ford, including that of Arsene Hicks.
“He confessed to Ford the first night that he was arrested," Enright says. "The next day he told his lawyer, ‘He took my head and slammed my face against the table.’” Pictures were taken of his face with bruises and abrasions. By the time they got to a suppression hearing, the pictures had disappeared and Glenn Ford was denying everything.”
Hicks was 16 when he was convicted, and he’s still behind bars. By working with Enright and a team of students, Fatehi now hopes to restore public faith in criminal investigation and prosecution.
“The minute that there is doubt in the form of demonstrated false convictions in different cases, it destroys faith in any legitimate conviction," Fatehi explains. "As a prosecutor, I have a moral duty to build trust in the system – to show that we want to live in a world where we live by the rule of law and not by the rule of the gun, where we ask people to come to court rather than fighting it out on the streets.”
And UVA’s Deirdre Enright says justice is long overdue.
“He’s been on my radar forever. Before there was the Norfolk Four there was the Lafayette Grill Three, so that’s seven. The Innocence Project has four Robert Glenn Ford cases that are in various stages of being exonerated.”
Ford was convicted in federal court of extortion and lying to the FBI. UVA’s law school hopes to hear from others who blame Detective Ford for a wrongful conviction.
To contact the Project for Informed Reform at UVA, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.