Nightly News   |  August 18, 2013

Was this man wrongfully imprisoned?

A woman who claimed her father sexually assaulted her as a child now is recanting her story and trying to vindicate her imprisoned dad.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> for more than a dozen years a young woman has been trying to take back the words she spoke as a child, the word that sent a newburgh, new york , man, accused of sexually molesting her to prison. recanting her story and getting authorities to believe her has proved far more difficult than she imagined. but now, after all these years, prosecutors in upstate new york are actively reviewing the entire case, as a man who has long claimed his innocence awaits the outcome, still behind bars . shenae kelly is on a mission.

>> i'm 244 years old i made this mistake when i was 9 years old.

>> reporter: she wants the world to know that 15 years ago she falsely accused this man of raping her.

>> came as a total shock to me.

>> reporter: his name is darryl kelly . he's her father. did your father rape you?

>> no.

>> reporter: her story begins in the family's home in newburgh, know new york , when shenae was 8. she remembers using the bathroom, then hearing her mother, who was hooked on trucks, call for her.

>> she asked me did my father touch me. i was like what do you mean? she was like, you know, did he touch you in your no-no spot? i would repeatedly say no.

>> reporter: but shenae ya says her mother was irrational and irate.

>> she told me if you don't tell met answer i want to hear, i'm gonna beat you.

>> reporter: so shenae says she lied and said her father molested her and within a year, she was on the witness stand , repeating the story.

>> i felt like if i kept telling the lie, eventually this whole thing will blow over.

>> reporter: there was no conclusive physical evidence presented that a rape even occurred and no prior accusations against kelly , yet he was found guilty of rape and sodomy and sentenced to 20 to 40 years. six months after his conviction, shenae, now removed from her mother's custody, came forward with her grandmother on videotape to say a crime never happened.

>> that occur?

>> no.

>> reporter: her mother submitted this affidavit to the court, admitting shenae initially denied any actions by my husband, but after i threatened her with the belt, she changed her statements. a judge didn't buy it. kelly would remain in prison. did you ever have any reason to suspect that daryl was molesting the kids at all?

>> not at all.

>> reporter: this is shenae's mother who said today, she is drug free, and 145 years later, she still insists the rape allegation was her idea.

>> until this day, i really have no idea why the thought popped in my head. like i say, at that time, i wasn't in my right frame of mind .

>> reporter: still behind bars , daryl kelly believes that, in the end, he will be vindicated.

>> one day, the truth will set me free . all i have to do is hold on.

>> investigators who are reexam ming the case for orange county, new york , prosecutors tell nbc news they expect to complete their work within a month. their recommendations will follow.