Two Men Have Rape Convictions Vacated 26 Years After Going To Prison
Two men who were sent to prison 26 years ago for rape have had their convictions vacated after their accuser said the incident never happened, the New York Times reports.
VanDyke Perry and Gregory Counts - who had always maintained their innocence - were exonerated by a judge in a state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday.
Perry and Counts - 21 and 19 at the time, respectively - were accused of having kidnapped and raped a woman in Central Park in 1991, along with another man.
While there was no material evidence that connected Perry and Counts to the assault - and despite the fact that the woman eventually stopped cooperating with prosecutors - the two were convicted of the charges, which included first-degree rape.
A third man was never apprehended in relation to the woman's accusations.
Perry spent 10 years in prison before he was paroled, saying that the case 'really destroyed' his life.
"I couldn't get decent jobs," he said in a statement.
"But I'm determined. I have kids, and I had to strive for them. Even when my back was hurting, and I started getting gray hair too young from working so hard, I had faith."
Counts, on the other hand, was in prison for a total of 26 years before he was paroled last year.
"I can't be angry," Counts said as he entered court, referring to his accuser.
"If I waste a minute being angry it's a waste of time. That's a minute I could have been happy."
The woman, who is a recovering crack addict, told police she had been kidnapped at knife point near her home in Queens and raped by three black men. However, she told investigators last month that it 'never happened' - admitting so after DNA testing connected the semen found on her body to another man, through an FBI database.
The defence argued that the woman had fabricated her story to protect her boyfriend - who had apparently shot Perry two months beforehand, and was wanted by the police.
Lawyers for both Perry and Counts said that the case was flawed from the start.
Barry Scheck, the co-founder of the Innocence Project - a non-profit organisation that uses DNA evidence to exonerate prisoners that have been wrongly convicted - said: "This was a particularly dark time in New York City during the crack epidemic.
"At this point in time in New York City, people were scared of teenagers who looked like my clients."
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