Cop Accused of Sexual Abuse: Was He Railroaded?

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"I was thinking, this just can't be happening," he said.

Then Ray was struck with the final blow. After eight months of questioning, his son Matt told investigators that he too had been raped by his father.

"I was starting at that point to question my own sanity," Ray said. "I wanted to commit suicide. I spent two weeks in Oregon Health Science University Hospital in their psyche ward, diagnosed with clinical depression. I would have rather been charged with murder than this."

Harsh Allegations: Ray Maintains Innocence

Ray was charged with several counts of statutory rape and complicity to rape.

Though he maintained his innocence, his mental state had deteriorated and he was worried he wouldn't win over a jury in trial. Ray decided to enter an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to plead guilty without admitting guilt. The move, while it maintained his innocence, cost him with the judge, who sentenced Ray to multiple life sentences plus 14 years.

"It suddenly occurred to me what the judge just said, and my knees gave out and the guards had to hold me up," Ray recalled.

Ray was sent to a maximum security prison in 1985. He would spend the next twenty years behind bars.

Ironically, if Ray had admitted guilt, he might have been able to shorten his prison sentence to possibly two years. But his insistence that he was innocent seemed to hurt him, as he was repeatedly denied consideration for parole.

During this time, Ray was forbidden to communicate with his children.

"It's very difficult because you wonder about those firsts -- baseball games, first date, graduation -- those are the things that haunt you in a prison cell at three in the morning," he told "20/20."

Ray Spencer's Fight for Justice

During his time behind bars, Ray rekindled a relationship with his first love, Norma Kohlscheen, who was certain of his innocence and made it her personal crusade to prove it. In the early 1990s, she hired a new defense attorney, Peter Camiel, and private investigator, Paul Henderson, who began to pick apart the original case against Ray.

They first re-examined the accusations of repeated rape by Ray's own children which had come after continued interrogation by Detective Sharon Krause. Major flags were raised when they learned that Krause's sessions were in a private hotel room, were not recorded, and that she bought them gifts, candy and ice cream.

"It was Krause's word and only her word as to what the child said to her," Henderson said.

"20/20" interviewed Dr. Stephen Ceci, an expert on child testimony who found fault with Krause's report.

"She says the child said something, but did the child say that initially or was there denial, denial, denial -- and then finally the child makes a disclosure because she wants to terminate what for her has become a harangue?"

Ceci said that by taking kids to a private hotel room, or by buying them cookies, candy or other sweets, as Krause did, the seeds are sown for highly unreliable statements.

To find out other ways the case was tainted, watch "20/20" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET

Sharon Krause declined to speak with "20/20."

Another critical point of concern for the defense was Ray's son Matt's denial of abuse for over eight months until he was told he would have to take a polygraph, which he said scared him.

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