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Two Men Accused Of Rape Exonerated 26 Years Later After The Woman Recants

A Manhattan Supreme Court exonerated Van Dyke Perry and Gregory Counts on Monday, (May 7) for a 1991 rape and kidnapping, after the victim told investigators the assault “never happened.”

As reported by The New York Times, during the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 1991, an unidentified woman approached police officers sitting inside a patrol car on a Harlem street. She told the cops she’d been kidnapped at knife point by three black men near her home in Queens and raped. Before the month’s end, Perry and Counts were arrested and charged with sodomy, kidnapping and criminal possession of a weapon.

There was no physical evidence to support the woman’s claims, and semen recovered didn’t match Perry or Counts. The prosecution leaned heavily on her inconsistent testimony. The defense however argued the woman was unreliable because she was a recovering crack addict and fabricated the story to protect her boyfriend who was wanted by police for shooting Perry two months prior.

Yet despite the shaky testimony and lack of evidence, both men were convicted. Perry served 11 years while Counts served 26. The third man accused was never arrested. Monday morning, both men walked into a Manhattan courtroom where district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr asked the State Supreme Court judge to vacate their convictions. Counts broke down in tears and said he forgives his accuser.

“I can’t be angry. If I waste a minute being angry it’s a waste of time. That’s a minute I could have been happy.”

In April, the woman told investigators from the district attorney’s office as well as lawyers with the New York Innocence project the rape ” never happened.” The semen collected matched a man who died in 2011 but was found through the FBI database.

“At the end of the day, nothing will give these men back the years away from family, or the years spent in prison,” Vance said. “No apology can make them whole.”

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