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24th Nov 2022

Man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years now awarded $45 million

Charlie Herbert

Man wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years given $45m in compensation

It’s the largest payout in Ohio’s history

A man who spent two decades in prison for crimes he didn’t commit has been awarded $45 million (£37m) in a settlement.

Roger ‘Dean’ Gillespie was convicted in 1991 of kidnapping and raping three women in Ohio, along with a charge of aggravated robbery.

He was sentenced to 56 years behind bars but always maintained his innocence.

Eventually, he was released in 2011.

However, it was only last year that he was officially declared innocent of the accused crimes, when a judge ruled that “no physical evidence” had ever connected him to the case and that there had been a suppression of evidence.

Following this, he was able to launch a civil trial to try and get compensation for his false imprisonment.

Now, Dean has received a settlement of $45m, the largest in Ohio’s history.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a jury found that detective Scott Moore had hidden evidence that would have helped Dean’s defence, and tricked the victims by making him seem larger than he was in pictures of a suspect lineup.

The jury in Gillispie’s civil lawsuit ruled that detective Moore had claimed a witness in the case had positively identified him when they had not.

He later told the victims they might not recognise Dean when they saw him in court, with the detective claiming the innocent man had ‘dyed his hair’.

They were also shown evidence that the detective failed to disclose, including receipts which proved Gillispie was actually in Kentucky when the crimes occurred.

Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project which worked to free Gillispie from his wrongful imprisonment, welcomed the move but said ‘nothing can repay’ the horrors Dean had experienced.

He said: “The horror inflicted on Dean and his family and community is hard to wrap your mind around.

“The way the authorities pushed through a conviction and then fought back and refused to admit a mistake was so disappointing. Nothing can repay Dean for the horror.

“The jury’s verdict sends a strong message that those in power need to change the way they do things.”

Following the verdict, Gillispie called for justice to the thousands of others who have been wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

He said: “I’m just one of 3,199 people that this happened to in the United States of America.

“Those people have served over 28,000 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. This has to stop. This system has to be fixed. The Ohio Innocence Project saved my life.”

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