This affidavit restores Mr. Cabrera’s good name.
For fourteen (14) years, Eric Cabrera faithfully and diligently built a distinguished career in education in Glynn County. Two (2) years ago, however, his life’s work and good name were ruined by a malicious lie.
The allegations and the legal process
In August of 2018, Eric was set to begin his third year as the Assistant Principal at Oglethorpe Point Elementary School on St. Simons Island when a Glynn County Police Department investigator appeared at the school to ask Mr. Cabrera some questions about a former student. The investigator pretended to need Mr. Cabrera’s assistance in understanding the behavior of the juvenile. As is his nature, Eric tried to assist the investigator and, in turn, help the child. Innocent and unaware, Eric did not realize he was the focus of an “investigation” (in the loosest sense of the word) which was instigated by a reckless falsehood.
Specifically, a troubled teenage male – while institutionalized in an Alabama treatment facility – alleged that Mr. Cabrera had molested him four (4) years earlier when the boy was in 5th grade. According to this “victim”, one day after school (while the boy was waiting for his late bus), Eric coaxed him into his classroom, dimmed the lights and locked the door. Mr. Cabrera then allegedly undressed himself – completely nude from the waist down – and likewise undressed the child. Thereafter, according to the teen, Mr. Cabrera fondled the 5th grader’s genitals as the two lain on the floor. This continued until a knock at the door interrupted the encounter. Per the kid’s story, Mr. Cabrera and the boy hurriedly got up off the ground, got dressed and then the boy pushed past an unidentified adult at the door and exited the room to catch his late bus.
Of course, none of this ever happened and, at all times during the police investigation and subsequent criminal prosecution process, Mr. Cabrera denied the baseless allegations. The incredible tale was contrary to Eric’s essence and was practically impossible. Unfortunately, that did not matter as the detective secured a criminal warrant for Mr. Cabrera’s arrest for the offense of child molestation solely on the strength of the boy’s story.
The Dow Firm, P.C. got involved in the case as a matter of principle and immediately began to investigate. A cursory review of the alleged crime scene and pointed discussion with the other teachers on Mr. Cabrera’s hall clearly exonerated Mr. Cabrera. All one had to do was to ask the right questions and examine the site. We went to the school and got the answers and the evidence. This was delivered to the Glynn County District Attorney, Jackie Johnson, in December of 2018 and she did the right thing at that point in time – she dismissed the pending child molestation charge for want of evidence.
Dismissal of the criminal case was only half the battle though. Eric’s reputation was stigmatized by the very allegation. His story had been reported in various regional media in Georgia and Florida and online. His name within both the Glynn County and education communities was marred – he was a presumed risk to children. While the D.A.’s Office had dismissed the case, that did not affirmatively disprove the student’s allegations.
In order to vindicate Mr. Cabrera completely, the boy would have to recant his story. In May of 2019, The Dow Firm, P.C. set out to do just that, suing the teenager for defaming Eric. The chief goal in the case was to get the false accuser to admit he had fabricated the story. After a year and a half and over $100,000 worth of litigation, The Dow Firm, P.C. accomplished the mission. The accuser acknowledged, under oath, the fact he had not been abused by Eric. This admission came after the boy was vigorously cross-examined and was caught in multiple inconsistencies concerning his allegations. Vindication in the case also came after the lead detective was vigorously cross-examined, revealing his investigation to be woefully insufficient and ineffective.
Regrettably, the truth arrived two (2) years too late. As a result of the false accusations Mr. Cabrera and/or his family had suffered the following consequences.
- Mr. Cabrera was arrested, jailed and publicly charged with the offense of Child Molestation in Glynn County, Georgia – the location of his home, family and livelihood.
- Mr. Cabrera was incarcerated for nine (9) days, separated from his freedom, wife, daughter, family, friends, work and lifestyle.
- Mr. Cabrera was fitted with an ankle monitor (at his personal cost of approximately $300.00 per month), was required to report to a criminal probation officer regularly, prohibited from having contact with children (aside from his own daughter) and forced to endure limited mobility (practical house-arrest) where he was only allowed to go certain places at certain times of the day.
- The Cabreras were subject to a search of their home by multiple law enforcement officers, the seizure of their personal effects (to include multiple computers and data drives) and the review of their private information and images.
- Immediately after his arrest, Mr. Cabrera incurred expenses for legal representation in an amount of approximately $20,000.00 from Dwight Feemster, Esq. and Alan Lowe, Esq.
- Immediately after his arrest, Mr. Cabrera and his wife and family lived under the threat of his continued wrongful prosecution for approximately five (5) months and the ultimate prospect of an unwarranted, long-term incarceration. And after the dismissal of the original criminal charges, Mr. Cabrera and his family were still uncertain if a wrongful prosecution might be resurrected.
- Mr. Cabrera was the subject of multiple broadcasts through various forms of media. Said media associated Mr. Cabrera’s good name and facial likeness with the allegation of being a sexual predator of school children.
- Mr. Cabrera lost his job as Vice Principal at Oglethorpe Point Elementary School on St. Simons Island, Georgia which he had worked to secure through promotion and additional education and certification.
- Mr. Cabrera lost his annual earnings as an elementary school administrator in the amount of $73,857.00. The loss of the majority of his household’s income naturally visited a financial hardship on his family’s fiscal well-being. This resulted in Mr. Cabrera’s wife, Tina, filing for bankruptcy protection (in a modest effort to preserve Mr. Cabrera’s already decimated reputation).
- Mr. Cabrera lost retirement benefits associated with his school position.
- Mr. Cabrera’s career path was permanently altered in that he could not reclaim the position he worked for years to secure. Further, all the extracurricular administration education and certification Mr. Cabrera attained (after hours while he worked as a vice principal) for the purpose of securing qualification for principal status, proved to be for naught due to the career set-back caused by the spurious allegations.
- Mr. Cabrera was obliged to accept a job at a car dealership washing and detailing cars while his civil case was pending.
- Mr. Cabrera suffered the humiliation, embarrassment and frustration arising from being cast in a false light where every aspect of his life was affected irreparably.
- Mr. Cabrera incurred not less than $1,300.00 in medical expenses associated with professional counseling for the natural emotional trauma sustained in this situation.
- Mr. Cabrera’s wife, young daughter and extended family suffered emotionally, thereby compounding Mr. Cabrera’s anguish.
Eric Cabrera’s background
To understand the injustice Eric experienced, one needs to know about his background.
Eric started his career as a special education paraprofessional in 2004 at Burroughs-Molette Elementary School and steadily worked his way up the ranks in the Glynn County school system. From 2007 through 2016, Mr. Cabrera was a teacher at Sterling Elementary School and Oglethorpe Point Elementary School (OPES). For his hard work and exceptional talent, in 2011 Eric was recognized and honored as the Glynn County Teacher of the Year. In 2016, Eric was promoted into school administration and began serving as the Assistant Principal at Oglethorpe Point Elementary School on St. Simons Island.
During the same period that he was educating our children in Glynn County, Eric was also pursuing his own education, traveling to Savannah and Valdosta several nights a week after the end of the school day. In 2007, he earned his Bachelors of Science in Early Childhood Education from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. In 2009, a Masters of Science in Early Childhood Education was conferred upon Eric from Armstrong Atlantic State University. And in 2017, Eric secured his Educational Specialist Degree in Education Leadership from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia.
Eric paid for his advanced schooling, supplementing his modest educator’s salary, by working second jobs on his weekends, days off and in the summers. His wife, Tina, and their daughters, Ilena and Bella, sacrificed so that Eric could enhance the lives of his students – our children.
With the gracious assistance of Glynn County School Board Member, Mike Hulsey, Mr. Cabrera was rehired in 2020 and put back to work in the Glynn County school system. He is currently serving as an Instructional Coach at Goodyear Elementary School in Brunswick, Georgia. It is Eric’s desire to resume his life, as it once was, helping local youth reach their potential.
Eric’s is a cautionary tale. A lie can ruin anyone, no matter how outrageous it is or upstanding the target may be. Eric’s situation is also a lesson in modern media and assumptions. A lot of people like to offer commentary about things they know nothing about. Folks are presumed guilty based upon innuendo and supposition. A baseless rumor becomes truth as it travels around the world in our time of online stupidity. Unfortunately, Eric Cabrera knows too much about this.
Fortunately, The Dow Firm, P.C. fixed it for him.