SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – David Hawkins will long remember September 6, 2019.
It’s the day a judge cleared his name.
In 2008, Hawkins pleaded guilty to two counts of child sex abuse. His victims were his own sons. He was sentenced to two 1-to-15 years in prison. Hawkins was released after seven years and placed on Utah’s sex offender registry.
“It’s one of the worst crime you can be convicted of,” Hawkins said. “In prison, you’re looked down upon.”
Friday, a judge signed an order exonerating him.
“What happened is oh my gosh, this is real,” said an excited Hawkins. “It’s tangible, it’s real. It happened. Words can’t express it. I’m walking on cloud nine.
It all began last year when the victims, his own sons, realized what they had done. Nathan Hawkins was nine-years-old when he told police a story he made up.
“At nine-years-old, I didn’t know what I was doing to be honest,” he told ABC4 in November. “I was able to make up horrific lies with great details of information against my dad.”
In November, David Hawkins and his attorney submitted a claim of factual innocence. His son’s submitted affidavits recanting their story.
Friday with no opposition from the Attorney General, the judge overseeing the case signed the order declaring Hawkins “has satisfied the requirements and granted a determination of factual innocence.”
In addition, the state awarded him $355,680 for being falsely imprisoned.
Hawkins said he’s forgiven his sons.
“At this point, my feeling isn’t to condemn them,” he said. “That doesn’t do any good. It’s to forgive, to forget and move forward as much as possible.
Hawkins said he’ll never cellmates who helped him during those seven years.
He said it allowed him to keep hope alive.
“I always believed from day one that the truth would come out but when?” Hawkins said.
Now he knows, September 6, 2019.