American prisoner Scott McMahon has been acquitted of all charges and set free by a Manila judge on Monday night.
Scott McMahon, a Seattle native, held the title of the longest-imprisoned US citizen in any foreign country who had not been convicted of a crime.
Moments after the judge read the verdict, McMahon’s mother was allowed to take a single photograph of herself, her son and their Filipino lawyer.
McMahon’s mother said: “More than anything, to see that look in his eyes when he heard those words, I can’t even tell you because there’s been so much pain in his eyes recently.
“Every part of his body loosened, like he was able to finally take a deep breath.”
McMahon was accused of rape in 2010, and the judge in the case said she was not telling the truth. The case was based solely on the accusations of the woman and no other evidence was rendered against him.
Scott has already settled into the Philippines in 2003 with a fianceé and two children.
McMahon was a successful builder, and had pressed charges against a neighbour after she threatened his children in 2010. That same woman pressed rape charges against McMahon, creating the the longest non-charged imprisonment for any American outside the United States.
The attorney for McMahon had proof all along that he was far away from the neighbour at the time of the alleged rape.
Legal experts who wrote opinions on the case concluded that the woman had made up the story and demanded cash to drop the charges.
Scott McMahon case draws attention
McMahon’s mother said her son’s five year imprisonment was so bad and filthy that people were dying around him.
“There are more than a hundred grown men packed into an 800-square-foot prison,” she said. “People were dying in there of things we’re vaccinated for.”
She launched websites and social media with details on his case to draw the attention of officials in the US and the Philippines.
A recent rash of criticism has hit the Duterte administration for the massive killings and imprisonment of drug dealers – many showing the horrific prison conditions and overcrowding.
Attorney from the David House Agency, the California Innocence Project and the United Nations expressed opinions and sent letter to the Philippine courts and government – but no answer was received.