In a quiet suburban community north of Detroit, one Michigan family thought it was witnessing a miracle: After years of silence, their autistic daughter seemed to be finally communicating and even excelling in school. Little did family members know that the technique that seemed to open their daughter's world would provide fodder for an aggressive police investigation that nearly tore the family apart.

The story of the Wendrow family's agonizing ordeal began with hope. Diagnosed with autism at age 2, their daughter Aislinn was severely disabled -- so much so that she couldn't communicate. But in 2004, the West Bloomfield, Mich. family thought the girl had experienced a breakthrough: a technique called facilitated communication seemed to allow Aislinn to communicate what she was thinking.

The technique involves a trained person called a facilitator, who holds a disabled person's arm while they type on a keyboard. For Aislinn, this seemed miraculous -- for the first time in her life, she now appeared to be able to answer questions, complete grade level schoolwork and even write poetry. By the time she graduated middle school, a teacher had told the Wendrows that Aislinn wanted to go to college and become a professor.

"All those dreams we had we thought were dashed are back and now maybe she will go to college and have a real job, and have a lot more independence in her life," her mother, Tali Wendrow remembered.

Those dreams were soon replaced by a nightmare. In high school, Aislinn was paired with a new facilitator. On Nov. 27, 2007, using FC, Aislinn typed out something no one expected: "My dad gets me up...He puts his hands on my private parts."

With just a few keystrokes, Aislinn had supposedly accused her father, Julian Wendrow, of the unthinkable -- sexual assault as recently as the previous weekend.

"The allegations were just horrific," said Lori Brasier, who covered the Wendrow's story for The Detroit Free Press. It was "the kind of story, you know, it would keep you up at night." (Read The Detroit Free Press' coverage of the Wendrow story here.)

The school, Brasier said, reported the allegations. Child protective services immediately removed Aislinn and her younger brother Ian from their home and the local prosecutor's office sprang into action.

Two days after the initial allegations, Aislinn was brought to a special county agency to meet with investigators. By her side was the same facilitator with whom she supposedly typed her initial sex abuse allegations, even though the Wendrows, along with facilitated communication experts, advised investigators to bring in a different facilitator -- one with no knowledge of the allegations.

That didn't happen.

With the facilitator's help, Aislinn seemed to divulge even more sensational details about alleged sexual abuse by her father, saying the abuse had started when she was just six years old, that her father had taken naked pictures of her and that he had forced her younger brother, Ian, to take part in the abuse as well while her mother did nothing to stop the abuse. But Aislinn also seemed to make telling mistakes -- through the facilitator, Aislinn typed the wrong names for both her grandmother and the family dog.

The sex abuse allegations were doubly painful for the Wendrows. Knowing the allegations of horrific abuse through facilitated communication were untrue, they realized that all of Aislinn's apparent accomplishments had to be equally false. "We had to swallow a pretty bitter pill," Tali Wendrow said. "It became pretty clear that we were wrong."

Red Flags Don't Stop Investigation

But while the Wendrows were ready to give up on facilitated communication, investigators weren't.

On Dec. 5, 2007, eight days after the sex abuse allegations surfaced, police arrested both Tali Wendrow and her husband, Julian. Tali Wendrow was released on bail and sent home with a tracking device, but her husband wasn't as lucky -- Julian Wendrow was placed in the Oakland County jail. He remained there for the next 80 days, most of that time in solitary confinement.

Investigators searched the Wendrows' home for the naked pictures Aislinn had supposedly alleged her father had taken. They found nothing.

Investigators took Aislinn for a medical exam. A nurse found "no acute injury."

Meanwhile, others questioned the heart of the case -- that Aislinn was able to communicate at all.

Braser said that as soon as her first story on the Wendrows was published, she got a call from one of Aislinn's former teachers.

"She said, 'There is no way that child is able to type, and I said, 'That's not what the police and prosecutors are saying,'" Braser told "20/20." "She said, 'If you said to Aislinn point to the sky, the child would not be able to do it.'"

Chris Cuomo met with Aislinn and asked her to point to the letter "B." This time, there was no facilitator to help her -- and Aislinn couldn't correctly identify the letter.

"Once you admit that Aislinn Wendrow couldn't read, then the next, only logical conclusion is, 'Well then she never could have said anything through FC...she couldn't have typed,'" the Wendrows' attorney, Deb Gordon said.

The charges against Julian Wendrow were later dropped.