ST. LOUIS – Three boys say they were paid $10 and gingerbread cookies to lie to a grand jury. Decades later, they learned why.
The Britton brothers are unanimous, having sworn repeatedly their uncle, Curtis Scott Hansen, was wrongfully prosecuted for a sex crime in 1989.
They’ve tried to clear his name for 30 years. They say Hansen is registered as a sex offender because of a lie they were coerced to tell. The boys were removed from their home for skipping school when they were 8, 9 and 10.
They were placed into three separate foster homes.
Their caseworker? Don Manhal.
“It just was us three boys and Manhal, so there was no one there but Manhal that said this is the way you get home,” said Charles Britton.
Jason Britton says of Manhal, “‘You wanna go home right?’ Well, of course, I want to go home. (He said) If you tell me who molested you – either your dad or your Uncle Scott.”
Charles Britton said Manhal pressed him.
“‘I know it happened.’ Basically, forcing me. I’m 8 years old (at the time). I don’t know anything about sex.”
Attorney Matt Radefeld added, "They were coerced into doing it by somebody who was a convicted felon for molesting little boys."
Radefeld figured out why DFS worker Don Manhal would pay children gingerbread cookies and cash to lie about sex.
He put it together after Curtis Scott Hansen asked him for help.
“There’s some cases that you just kind of remember – and that name – when I heard it, it stuck out. I put two and two together of who he was and how he was a convicted child molester.” ” he said.
Radefeld had remembered Manhal’s name because his firm had represented the DFS worker. Back in 2002, Manhal went to prison after pleading guilty to child molestation.
Manhal’s court file also notes previous offenses.
One court entry says, “Donald was fired from a counseling job because of an incident he had with an 11-year-old boy.”
Another court entry lists an incident: “Donald asked for help to remove ‘kiddie porn’ from his computer.”
“He was a predator,” Radefeld said. “And it’s clear he was preying on little boys at the time and Curtis Scott Hansen fell into a situation where false allegations were made against him and it was perpetuated even further by a DFS worker who was almost grooming these boys and telling them they should make these false statements against him and it’s ruined his life.”
Manhal died in prison in 2010, before Hansen or the Brittons could ask him why.
“The man never should’ve been put in that kind of position,” Clinton said. “He destroyed four people’s lives.”
The Brittons say Manhal visited them frequently one on one. Charles remembers Manhal always taking him into a side room - and if anyone was sexual, he said it was Manhal.
“He would always ask how I’d masturbate… Had I ever done group masturbation with other people I was in custody with,” he said. “You know, inappropriate questions such as that.”
Meanwhile, Hansen remains convicted of a crime all three nephews say never happened.
“There’s days I just want to cry myself to sleep and just say, ‘You know what? I’m just tired of it all,’” Hansen said. “I really am, but I’m a very positive person, so I know, just keep your head up and just keep fighting.”
Still to come in our investigation, we’ll show you how the top leaders in Missouri have known about this story for years. We’re working on getting answers about why they’ve refused to intervene.