Man fights to clear his name after conviction he says was false

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A Vermilion County native is trying to clear his name. Jason Matthews agreed to a plea deal 20 years ago. He took it to avoid going to prison, but he said his entire life since then has been ruined because the victim’s mom made it up. We talked to the woman listed as the victim in this case. She said Matthews is innocent.

“It was the scariest moment of my life. I didn’t know what to do,” said Matthews. “I was looking at 60 years in prison.”

60 years – for something he says he didn’t do. At just 17 years old, Jason Matthews was accused of something that would shape the next 20 years of his life: sexual assault.

“I was 12, lived in a small town, Jason lived a couple blocks up from me,” explained Nikita Holmes, who is listed as the victim in the case, but she says none of it happened.

“My mother wasn’t really the nicest mom around, so I would sneak out to see Jason and his sister,” she said. “Got caught coming back in one night, and my mom was like, ‘Where were you?’ and I was trying to tell her I was with another friend, but she didn’t believe that. So I fessed up that I was with Jason and Sherry, and ever since then I never saw Jason again.”

Holmes said her mom accused Matthews of assaulting her, which eventually turned into charges against him. He took a deal to avoid time behind bars, but it hasn’t made his life any easier. He’s now fighting to prove his innocence and get rid of his “sex offender” label.

“There’s no employment. You’re not gonna get a job anywhere. Even if you do get a job, you’re not gonna be safe, so I’ve always employed myself,” explained Holmes.

Matthews and Holmes eventually re-connected, and the two are now fighting together.

“Still, 20 years later, no one has spoken to me about any of this. If they would, it would be over,” said Holmes.

We talked to Holmes’ mother on the phone. She says she doesn’t remember filing a police report against Matthews. She does remember finding a condom in her house, which prompted her to talk to kids around town who said it was Matthews. She remembers then telling police to keep Matthews away from her daughter, but not filing a report.

Matthews case was delayed until late October. We reached out to the Vermilion County State’s Attorney’s office, but they said they can’t comment on pending matters.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.