San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Stephen Demetras ordered the release of 36-year-old Peter Rose today after 10 years of incarceration.
Convicted of sexually assaulting a 13 year-old Lodi girl in 1994, Rose was sentenced to 27 years in prison. With no history of violent crime or sexual assault, Rose has maintained his innocence from the beginning. DNA testing, which resulted from a motion brought by the Northern California Innocence Project at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco on behalf of Peter Rose, has proved him right.
The victim, who knew Rose as a family acquaintance, did not initially identify him and told police that she had been assaulted by a stranger. In the following weeks an aunt, who had personal problems with Rose, suggested to the girl that Rose was the assailant.
Three weeks later, after a three hour “interrogation,” the victim told the police that Rose might have been the assailant. By the time of trial, she told the jury she was positive it was Rose.
“This is a case that exemplifies the injustices that can occur when suggestive and coercive interview techniques are used with a witness, particularly a child or adolescent.,” says Janice Brickley, supervising attorney at the NCIP at Golden Gate University.
The two police officers who interviewed the girl repeatedly accused her of lying and badgered her to tell them a story they could believe. It was not until she said that “it could be Pete” that the police changed the tone of the interview and told her they were now “making some progress.”
Although she insisted that she was only naming Peter because other people thought it might be him, the police continued to push her until she became less tentative. At that point, the police told her that she was “doing good here.”
A semen sample that was taken from the victim’s underwear during the sexual assault examination following the assault was originally tested for DNA in 1995 without results.
When Rose sought the assistance of the NCIP at Golden Gate University in December, 2002, students under the supervision of attorney, Janice Brickley and Professor Susan Rutberg (director of the NCIP at Golden Gate University), determined that the sample was still in existence at the lab.
NCIP filed a motion for DNA testing which was granted by Judge Stephen G. Demetras. As a result of more recent advances in DNA testing, a DNA profile was obtained from that same sample and excluded Peter Rose as the source.
The NCIP at Golden Gate University is a law school clinical program which, together with its sister project at the University of Santa Clara, helps prisoners who assert claims of innocence.
||False Child Abuse