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District Attorney

Two Men Wrongfully Convicted of NYC Knifepoint Rape Get Justice After Nearly Three Decades

What to Know

  • The Manhattan DA's office asked for the exoneration of two men wrongfully imprisoned for decades for a rape they didn't commit
  • Gregory Counts and VanDyke Perry were accused of raping a woman in January 1991
  • In April, the woman who accused the two men recanted her story. Retested DNA evidence matched the profile of a man who died in 2011

Two men wrongfully imprisoned for decades for a rape they did not commit have been exonerated, the Manhattan district attorney's office said Monday. 

Cy Vance had tweeted earlier in the day he planned to ask the State Supreme Court to vacate the convictions of Gregory Counts and VanDyke Perry, who had been accused of raping a woman in January 1991 after kidnapping her at knifepoint. Counts was 19 years old at the time; Perry was 21. 

By early afternoon, Vance tweeted, "The motions to vacate and dismiss have been granted." 

"This case is a tragedy for all involved," he added. "It is every prosecutor's nightmare to convict the innocent." 

In April, the woman who accused Counts, Perry and a third man of rape recanted her story, the New York Times first reported. DNA evidence in the case, meanwhile, was retested in 2015 and matched the profile of a man who died in 2011, according to the Times.

Counts and Perry were convicted in 1992, despite a lack of physical evidence and inconsistent testimony, the Times reported. During the trial, the woman accusing Perry and Counts testified that her boyfriend had worked with the two of them and a third man to sell drugs. When her boyfriend didn’t pay back a debt, the men attacked him, she said.

The woman also testified that the three men had burglarized her home. Her boyfriend later shot Perry after Perry confronted him, she said.

Defense attorneys claimed the woman “had a motive to retaliate against the men, and that the boyfriend had good reason to help her out because it meant charges for shooting Mr. Perry could be dropped,” according to the Times.

Perry spent 11 years in prison before he was released in 2001, the Times reported. While Counts was still in solitary confinement, meanwhile, he reached out to the Innocence Project, the Times reported.

The Innocence Project, along with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Program and the Office of the Appellate Defender’s Reinvestigation Project, started reinvestigating the case in 2017, according to the Times.

Counts was released last August after 26 years in prison, the Times reported.

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