CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The daughter of a man who was convicted of raping her in 1996 says she is "devastated" he is being sent back to prison.
"My father was not the man that raped me. I have no memory of thinking that he did. I am certain of the fact that it was not him because I have no fear of him," Katie Haught said in a written statement after the state Supreme Court ordered her father Joseph Lavigne Jr. to return to prison.
Haught told the Gazette on Sunday that she wrote the letter to give to her father's attorney, Greg Ayers, in hopes the court would consider it.
"There's no actual record of me ever saying that he didn't do it," she said
Lavigne, 54, was released on bond last year after serving 15 years when now-retired Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding found there had been insufficient evidence to convict him in his 1996 trial.
Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia appealed Spaulding's decision, arguing there was plenty of evidence to convict Lavigne.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed Spaulding's decision and ordered Lavigne back to prison immediately to serve the remainder of his 22- to 60-year sentence.
Lavigne said Saturday his attorney would ask that he be allowed to remain free on bond while his case is appealed further. If that effort fails, he expected he would have to turn himself in Monday. He plans to appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"I was not prepared for this result because I didn't think that there was anyway someone could look at this case objectively and think the conviction was valid. This came as a huge surprise and I am devastated that an innocent man cannot find justice," Katie Haught wrote.
Prosecutors said in court documents that on the morning of Feb. 11, 1996, Lavigne took his daughter -- who was 5 years old at the time -- out of their Hurricane home and assaulted her across the street, near a row of pine trees surrounding the parking lot of a church.
When Lavigne awoke that morning, he told authorities he found his daughter in the bathroom, shivering and bleeding, records state. He called 911 and told them his daughter was saying he was the one who had hurt her, according to court documents.
Doctors and police testified during the 1996 trial that Katie Haught told them her father was her attacker. But on the stand, her identification of him was controversial. The court reporter made a notation that the girl looked to Lavigne when asked who had assaulted her, but she never said it was him.
Spaulding found that the record was insufficient to amount to an in-court identification. The Supreme Court overruled Spaulding and said it was sufficient.
Prosecutors relied almost entirely on testimony that Katie Haught identified her father as her attacker as there was no DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.
Katie Haught, now 22, said in her latest statement that as early as age 11 she knew her father wasn't the one who raped her.
"I know that there were many testimonies of what I said during the hours following my traumatic rape but I firmly believe that nothing of what someone else said I said during that time period should be admissible in court," she wrote. "The memories of a few people of the ramblings of a distressed child in pain do not seem to me to be a very precise record to judge as evidence."
After the rape, Lavigne's sister, Lori Haught, adopted Katie and her two brothers. Lori Haught said Saturday that while she never believed her brother was guilty of the crime, she didn't discuss it with his children. She said she wanted to be careful not to influence Katie Haught to think one way or another about her father, she said.
"I spent the whole time in fear, not saying anything for the good of the children," Lori Haught said, noting that as Katie grew older, not discussing her rape caused tension between them.