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Ajay's Tragedy

Ajay Dev was born in Kathmandu Nepal. His father and mother were born and grew up in Southern Nepal and Northern India. They were farmers, living in mud houses with thatched roofs and no running water or electricity. His father was a gifted student and through his academic abilities was given scholarships to attend college.

He eventually earned his Masters at Louisiana State University before Ajay was born and his PhD at UC Davis. At the age of 13 Ajay came to Davis with his parents and older brother. In Davis he went to school, played soccer and made friends. Both Ajay and his brother went to Chico State, where Ajay received both his Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Engineering. Ajay worked for the State of California’s Department of Water Resources as a Water Resources Engineer.

Ajay met Peggy Easley in 1992 while they both attended Chico State University. They both shared idealistic goals of helping the underprivileged, a love of reggae music, a love of animals, and the belief that all people no matter the race or ethnicity are people first and as such are deserving of humanity, kindness and respect. Ajay and Peggy married in 1997, having both Hindu and Christian marriage ceremonies.

In 1998 they traveled to Nepal to meet Ajay’s extended family. While in Nepal they were overcome by the poverty, and decided they wanted to help. They believed the best way to help was to provide someone the opportunity to better their life through education, just as Ajay’s father had done. Knowing that girls do not get as many opportunities as boys do, they decided to help a distant niece, whose father would have to pay for five dowries, thus hindering his ability to provide a good future for them.

In 1999 Ajay and Peggy adopted a 16 year old teenage relative, striving to give her a better education and life while also hoping that after she was established, she would help her biological family in Nepal and others if the opportunity arose. The problems began after she turned 18 and got her green card and escalated later when the couple and their 19 year old adopted daughter conflicted over priorities – college and career vs. boyfriends and her social life.

Ajay and Peggy tried to keep her focused on education. However, she viewed them as host parents and believed they were overly involved in her life. Numerous arguments ensued over priorities and responsibilities over the next 18 months. Eventually, after just such an argument Ajay and Peggy asked her to move out of their home.

Although she was over 20 years old at the time, Ajay and Peggy promised her biological family in Nepal they would continue to take care of her. She had not even finished with her second year of college. They felt obligated to inform her biological parents that she had moved out of the house so she could socialize until all hours of the night, and was not doing well in school. The young woman interpreted this as an infringement on her freedom, and the arguments escalated. She retaliated by accusing them of physical abuse. Shocked, hurt, and saddened by her accusation, Ajay and Peggy disinherited her and withdrew all financial support. Angry and fearful of deportation to her native country of Nepal, returning to a lifestyle she no longer desired, as well as being worried about having to be held accountable for her misbehavior, the accusation escalated from physical abuse to that of sexual abuse.

In February 2004, she went to the Davis Police Department and accused Ajay of raping her 2-3 times a week from the day she moved in until the day she moved out (4 years and 10 months). Throughout the trial dozens of people supported Ajay believing in his innocence. Those attending trial were shocked at the process they witnessed. The adopted daughter came up with new accusations, stating that she was raped by Ajay in friends and families homes while everyone was present. All of these accusations were extremely difficult to believe as the homes were under 1,000 square feet and she said the rapes occurred while people were in the same room or even the same bed. Some of the accusations were outright impossible. Nonetheless, Ajay was convicted even though there was no physical evidence and extremely unreliable testimony from the adopted daughter. Her medical doctor’s supported the defense – they had never seen any sign of abuse. The family and her friends testified they never saw any sign of abuse; never witnessed a rape or anything suspect; and she never exhibited any avoidance behavior toward Ajay. On the contrary, she had a good relationship with Ajay, until the breakdown around her education and conflict in priorities. The trial was unfair and replete with errors. Today, hundreds of people support Ajay. After learning the details of her accusation and knowing Ajay personally, hundreds of people have come out to show their support of Ajay.

Ajay is in the process of his appeal. Due to the nature of the accusation against him and his conviction he is not allowed to have visits with his two biological children (sons). One was 15 months old when Ajay was taken away and the second was still in the womb. Having been born after Ajay’s conviction, but sharing the same birthday with his father, Ajay’s youngest son has only seen his father through a glass during visitation and has only heard his voice on the phone.

Ajay has been in prison since June 25, 2009. It has taken three years to get his Direct Appeal together.

How an innocent man was wrongly convicted:

  1. Davis Police Detective Mark Hermann failed to question pertinent witnesses, failed to examine alleged crime scenes, covered up multiple inconsistencies in the accuser’s statements, misrepresented facts and evidence to the jury, and influenced witnesses.
  2. The DA charged Ajay with 92 counts (a process called charge stacking) and embellished them with accusations relating to porn to prejudice the jury. At the trial Ajay was acquitted of all the porn charges; however, the DDA grossly misrepresented facts to the jury and was able to keep out evidence that would have shown Ajay's innocence on the other charges.
  3. The DDA’s closing argument hinged almost exclusively on an alleged admission spoken in Nepali recorded during a pretext phone call. The call was scripted by the detective intended solely to entrap Ajay. Although at trial the detective admitted to guiding the accuser through the call and telling her what to say, he also admitted that he had destroyed his notes. So no one will ever know how much of the call was prompted or instructed by him. The judge allowed the accuser to be the translator for the call and the prosecutor provided the jury the accuser’s translation when they heard the call.  The accuser claimed that Ajay admitted to having sex. Even though during the call, she acknowledged there were no admissions, and expresses her frustration that he will not help her. Nonetheless at trial she changed her story. The DDA erroneously stated that Ajay never denied the accusations in Nepali. While in fact, Ajay asked the accuser several times why is she lying and that he never did this in both English and Nepali. After the trial, jurors commented through news blogs that they found the accuser’s testimony ‘hard to swallow’ but convicted Ajay based on this pretext call.
  4. CASH FOR CONVICTIONS – The DA's office receives federal grant money which is directly tied to the number of prosecutions and convictions for sex crimes. In Yolo County there is a pattern of minority defendants having a ridiculously high number of counts stacked-up against them compared to similar cases with white defendants. The large number of counts can overwhelm and prejudice people into believing the defendant must be guilty.

Keep looking back for updates on Ajay. Ajay's Appeal Brief was filed on August 2012. Keep checking back as we will be updating the site with more information regarding his case.

Advocates for Ajay (AFA), was formed after the wrongful conviction of Ajay Dev. We are very sympathetic to true victims of rape and sexual abuse, as some among us advocating for Ajay Dev’s innocence are true victims of rape and sexual abuse and would never want to see someone go free who has committed this type of crime. What unfolded in the case of Ajay Dev is a frightening tragedy.