A charge against a Marion man accused of a sex crime against a young child was dismissed after new information surfaced in the investigation.
Joseph Matthew Stewart, 31, of Highland Drive in Marion was charged in September 2014 with one count of first-degree sex offense against a child under 13 years of age.
In a statement, District Attorney Kent Brown said, "While this criminal charge has been pending, developments have occurred in a related Buncombe County Department of Social Services case not involving this Defendant. As a result of these developments, the District Attorney's Office and the Marion Police Department detective furthered this investigation. Information newly learned through this continued investigation indicates the Defendant is not responsible for the charged crime."
At the time of the original charge, Stewart was in a relationship with the mother of the alleged 4-year-old victim. According to Lt. Rusty Jenkins of Marion P.D., the father of the child reported the incident on Sept. 6. Stewart was charged three days later and indicted in December 2014.
Defense attorney Krinn Evans said it was determined that Stewart was not the perpetrator at any time against the child and was tethered to a false accusation.
“We worked closely with the District Attorney keeping them up to date with the results of the DSS investigations and family court hearings involving custody actions of the minor child,” said Evans. “It appears that the natural father of the minor child, in an attempt to gain custody of the minor child made allegations against the mother's boyfriend, Mr. Joseph Stewart, which turned out to be false. Mr. Stewart can now enjoy the rest of his life without the burden of these false allegations against him over his head.”