Chaneya Kelly is on a mission: she wants the world to know about a horrible lie she says she told almost 16 years ago – a lie that cost a man his freedom.
“I'm 24 years old and I made this mistake when I was nine years old,” Chaneya told NBC News, “but it's never too late to try and right your wrong. “
Chaneya says that in 1997, she falsely accused a man of raping her. That man – who has always maintained his innocence -- is Daryl Kelly, Chaneya’s father.
“All I think is, ‘One day the truth will set me free,’” said Kelly, from Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York. “All I have to do is hold on.”
Watch "Nightly News" tonight for more on the Daryl Kelly case.
In October 1997, Daryl Kelly was living with his wife, Charade, and their five children in Newburgh, N.Y., 90 miles north of New York City. Chaneya, their oldest child, was two months shy of her ninth birthday.
At the time, Daryl -- a Navy veteran who owned a local electronics repair shop -- says he was trying to kick a drug habit to take care of his kids. But Charade was at rock bottom, even turning to prostitution to feed her addiction.
Chaneya remembers being downstairs with her father one morning before school when she had to use the bathroom. When she was done, she went upstairs, and that’s when Chaneya says her mother asked her a question that came out of the blue.
“She repeatedly asked me, has my dad touched me,” recalled Chaneya. “I was like, ‘What do you mean, did he touch me?’ And she was like, ‘Did he touch you in your no-no spot?’ And I would repeatedly say no.”