WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas — Greg Kelley has been officially exonerated years after he was convicted of sexually abusing a young boy.
Kelley, a former football player for Leander High School, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison back in 2014 for aggravated sexual assault against a child.
His conviction was overturned on Nov. 6. His case was then sent back to Williamson County, according to court documents. KVUE previously reported that District Attorney Shawn Dick indicated that he has no plans to move forward with the case.
He has been found "actually innocent." The court has apologized for the "systemic failure" that led to his conviction.
"Your case was polarizing," the judge said during opening remarks of Kelley's hearing in Williamson County. "I was convinced that the guilty conviction was unjust" and that Kelley "should be exonerated."
The judge told Kelley she couldn't undo the damage that was done or restore his life to what it was as a senior in high school.
"I declare you innocent, and you are fully exonerated," the judge said.
The courtroom then erupted in applause.
"At this time, I'm going to do something I've never done before," the judge said. "In the system of justice, the gavel has importance. It signifies what was is no longer and at this time the state's motion to dismiss the indictment is granted – what was is no longer."
The judge proceeded to hit her gavel. Kelley was then seen embracing his family.
"No one should ever question if their voice should or would be heard," Kelley said in reference to the justice system.
"To the victim and his family, I'm absolutely sorry you have to go through this. Believe me, your opinion matters. For six years, I not only had to prove to the state I didn't do this, but I had to prove to you that I didn't do this," Kelley said. "The justice system failed me and you. Today, I received justice while you remain failed. All victims deserve justice the first time around."
KVUE's Tony Plohetski was at the hearing and reported, "you can literally hear sobs in the courtroom as Greg Kelley speaks."
"I can't wait to spend the rest of my life creating memories with people I hold near and dear to my heart," Kelley said.
The newly exonerated man continued to thank those who assisted or represented him during his case, calling the judge "the most honorable."
The Leander resident was accused in 2013 of sexually assaulting two 4-year-old boys at an in-home daycare operated by a friend's family.
Kelley's case has grabbed public attention since it started six years ago. At the time, he was 18 years old. His arrest sparked outrage from those who knew him and immediately proclaimed his innocence.
Kelley, now 24, went to trial in 2014 and was found guilty of two counts of super aggravated sexual assault of a child. He accepted a sentencing deal in which he would spend a mandatory 25 years in prison.
In 2017, authorities reopened the case after receiving "credible" evidence that a different person may have been involved in the assault.
PHOTOS: Greg Kelley exoneration hearing at Williamson County Justice Center
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