State Agrees to Pay $340,000 to Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for Six Years

Earl Bain was the face of an ultimately successful campaign to force the state to pay compensation for those wrongfully convicted.

Earl Bain, at left.

A yearslong court fight between the state of Oregon and Earl Bain, a man who received a gubernatorial pardon after serving six years in prison for a crime prosecutors later said he didn’t commit, has ended: Bain will be paid around $340,000, according to an agreement dated April 25.

That’s roughly two-thirds of the maximum he’s entitled to under a new law, passed in 2022, that allowed people who had been wrongfully convicted to sue the state for compensation.

To receive the full amount, Bain would have had to prove in court that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that he was innocent. That’s proven a difficult task, to the frustration of advocates who feel the state is fighting too hard to deny benefits to victims of the judicial system. Bain was the subject of a lengthy story in the Huffington Post late last year.

The Oregon Innocence Project, which represented Bain in this case, released this statement: “While he was frustrated and disappointed that the office of the attorney general ignored the governor’s finding of innocence and treated his request for compensation and the trauma of his wrongful conviction like bargaining chips to haggle over, in the end he authorized counsel to seek a settlement. Mr. Bain won the best outcome he could.”

Bain, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was the face of the successful effort to pass the 2022 bill, which promised to compensate the wrongfully convicted $65,000 per year of imprisonment and $25,000 per year on parole.

He was convicted in 2009 by a non-unanimous jury in Malheur County of sexually abusing his daughter. After she recanted her claims in 2015, Bain received a rare pardon from then-Gov. Kate Brown affirming his “actual innocence.”

“Money can’t make up for all the ways my family and I have suffered as a result of my conviction,” Bain says, “but it will help us to rebuild.”

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