In 1996, Greg Torti from Texas was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 6-year old boy. For over 20 years, he has lived his life as a registered sex offender, spent years in prison, and still cannot go near parks, schools, and other child-safe zones. But what really happened on that fateful day of 9 June 1996? Did Greg really commit a crime or is he another man failed by the justice system?
The incident that got Greg arrested
On June 9, 1996, 21-year-old Greg and his then-girlfriend, Joellene were in a car with two friends, John Cornelison and Brenda Hines (name changed). Brenda’s son, Luke (name changed) was also with them. The group was on their way to a pool party hosted by their friend, Donna Gray. Greg and Joellene had decided to leave their one-year-old baby, Morgan, with a babysitter.
At the party, there were around 10 of them, all old high school friends. They had been wild teenagers back in the day, and everyone knew Greg and Brenda had some kind of a complicated history, filled with casual hook-ups and heated arguments. But now, the group had grown up and trying to settle down.
Luke was playing with the three other kids in the party when he felt the urge to use the bathroom. He had diarrhea. Since his mom had a little too much to drink by then, John volunteered to take Luke to the bathroom. Greg followed them as he had not eaten anything that day, and was hoping to find some food in the apartment. He found hotdogs in the refrigerator. After eating one cold, he saw some cooked ones in a tray. He ate one and grabbed a few and headed towards the bathroom. He saw that John was cleaning up Luke.
Then Luke, when he returned to the party, seemed uncomfortable and was holding his behind. When the adults asked him what had happened, the boy said that Greg “made him bend over in the restroom and put a hot dog into his rear end”. Brenda flew into a rage and screamed at Greg. The next day, Brenda decided to press charges. She admitted later in court that she did not think of contacting the police right after because she had been too drunk and only thought about it when she had her “head together” the following day.
The Court’s ruling, despite multiple witnesses claiming Greg’s innocence
Greg was tried and found guilty, never having a chance to explain that he never touched Luke like that and that it had all been a huge misunderstanding. He never got to speak for himself, explaining that all he did was play a joke on Luke. All Greg had done was slap the hot dog he had on the side of Luke’s buttocks, dropped it on the floor and said, “Look! You shit a hot dog!” That was all it was - a silly and thoughtless joke. Even John was there to witness it; he even went to court saying that Greg and Luke were never alone in the bathroom and that he saw Greg hitting the sausage on Luke’s “left butt cheek”. But still, Greg was somehow found guilty.
What makes this case even more suspicious is the fact that the hot dog was never retrieved and tested. Due to this, Greg was released after 7 months in prison on an appellate bond. Many of the people present at the party even said that they were certain of Greg’s innocence, and two women claimed that Brenda had told them Greg never touched Luke and she had made up the story in anger. One of them even signed an affidavit. Despite these, Greg’s petition was still turned down.
In 2008, Greg Torti was let out on early parole, thanks to the efforts of his family and his wife, Ticey, whom he married while in prison. They now have two kids together. But Greg’s release does not mean that he is free. He still has to carry around a blue “sex offender registration” card, and cannot go near parks, schools, and other child-safe zones. The father of two still cannot pick up his kids from school, cannot take them to the park, and he dreads the day he will have to explain to them why.