Associated Press

May 23, 2006, 8:42PM

Cuban Cleared in Rape Held for Immigration

By PHIL DAVIS Associated Press Writer
Cuban national Orlando Bosquete, left, celebrates with his lawyers Nina Morrison and Barry Scheck, after a Monroe County Judge ruled he should be released from prison, Tuesday, May 23, 2006 in Marathon, Fla. after DNA evidence proved he did not commit the sex crimes he was charged with over 20 years ago. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

MARATHON, Fla. — A Cuban man wrongly accused of a 1982 rape was arrested by immigration officers Tuesday, hours after a judge dismissed his sexual assault conviction based on DNA evidence.

Orlando Bosquete, 52, was taken to a detention center where he was to be charged with violating immigration law, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said.

He will have the chance to present his case to a judge, who will decide whether he can be deported, Gonzalez said. She declined to discuss specifics of the charge.

The arrest came after Circuit Judge Richard G. Payne said DNA evidence proves Bosquete was not the man who sexually assaulted a Key West woman in 1982.

Before Tuesday's arrest, Bosquete expressed frustration at his extended incarceration but said he was glad he was proved innocent of the rape.

"It is very important to me to forgive because I have to start a new life," he said.

His lawyers had argued for supervised release, a move supported by prosecutors and the judge.

Bosquete came to the United States in the 1980 Mariel boatlift, in which more than 125,000 Cubans fled the communist island.

He was granted temporary legal status in 1981 while he pursued residency, his lawyers said. The Immigration and Customs agency would not confirm that.

Bosquete, who escaped from prison twice, is being represented by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group based in New York. His lawyers said the immigration confusion comes from charges that he pleaded guilty to under aliases he used while an escaped convict.

Bosquete was arrested shortly after the 1982 assault when the victim, sitting in a police car, identified him from 20 feet away as her attacker.

State Attorney Mark Kohl said his office acted immediately when it got confirmation that the DNA was not Bosquete's.

"I'm saddened that he had this horrible situation happen to him, and it's our job to make sure this doesn't happen to anybody else," Kohl said.

Bosquete escaped in 1985 and wasn't re-arrested until 10 years later. He escaped again three months later and was at large for a year.

Prosecutors in Palm Beach County dismissed his 1985 escape charge on Monday, and Bosquete has served the sentence he got for his second getaway, officials said.

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