"This is going to be a hard battle, but there are a lot of secrets that have yet to come out," says Swomley. "I am confident that anyone who hears this evidence should be compelled to take a good, hard look at this case and find Baran not guilty."

Prosecutors declined to discuss the Baran’s lawyers’ plans. "It would be inappropriate for me to officially comment on this [pending] case," said Berkshire County district attorney Joe Capeless.

The six children involved in the original trial are now in their early 20s. During this investigation, only three could be located. Jane Reed graduated from Vassar College in 2003 and is currently in Cambodia working for the service organization PACT. She declined to discuss the case for attribution. Tom Hill, according to his former foster mother, has had numerous problems with drugs and petty crime. Kathy Cooper had a child and moved to California, said her grandmother in a phone interview. Kathy also had problems with drug abuse, her grandmother said.

Baran says he bears no ill will toward the children whose testimony put him away for two decades. "I’m furious [at the situation], but I’m not mad at them," he said. "They grew up believing I was a monster. The system failed them, too."

In prison, Baran gets choked up when he reflects on the amount of time he’s lost. The birthdays, weddings, and graduations he’s missed trouble him even more when he ponders how many more may still pass without him.

Baran can meet visitors only in a guarded room that resembles the gates of an airport terminal with parallel rows of seats and square tables. Doors slam, alarms buzz, bells ring — all reminding Baran of the thick prison walls surrounding him. In the winter, he finds solace in staring out the three horizontal slats that pass for windows in his cell. When snow falls, he says, it coats the perimeter fence 30 yards away, and the razor wire and chain links seem to disappear into the whitening landscape.

"Those days, you can actually allow your mind to wander outside the prison," he said. "But what’s sad is that the next day, you can feel lost in the same beautiful blizzard because you’re still locked up."

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