Fairborn’s Roger Dean Gillispie, who was released from state prison two years ago after serving 20 years for rapes he says he didn’t commit, has filed a federal lawsuit against Miami Twp.’s Police Dept., General Motors and local officials.
Gillispie, 48, was freed in December 2011 after U.S. District Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz ruled he didn’t get a fair trial when he was convicted of rape, kidnapping and aggravated robbery in 1991. Merz said prosecutors improperly withheld from the defense, and the jurors, the fact that the original investigating Miami Twp. police detectives eliminated Gillispie as a suspect.
The eight-count, 26-page suit claims Gillispie, once a security guard at GM, “was framed for a series of sexual assaults that he did not commit, and has spent over 20 years incarcerated as an innocent man. Tragically, his conviction was no accident, as his wrongful conviction was the result of police misconduct perpetuated by officers from the Miami Township Police Department.”
Miami Twp. Trustee Mike Nolan said Tuesday that the trustees were not yet aware of the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.
The three victims, who picked Gillispie out of a lineup two years after the August 1988 crimes, unwaveringly identified him as their attacker in two 1991 trials. But no physical evidence linked Gillispie to the attacks.
The original detectives eliminated him as a suspect because of major differences between his appearance and witness descriptions of the rapist, and because Gillispie, who had a clean record and a job, didn’t fit the personality profile of the suspect, according to an affidavit.
The suit said the “misconduct included, but was not limited to, witness manipulation; cover-ups; the fabrication, destruction, and suppression of evidence; and perjury.”
Neither Gillispie nor this mother, Juana, would comment Tuesday about the lawsuit, but Juana said her son’s time in prison was “20 years of hell.”
Gillispie is represented by the Chicago-based law firm of Loevy & Loevy and Cincinnati attorney Michele Berry. Loevy & Loevy attorney David Owens would not comment Tuesday. In March, Loevy & Loevy represented a Cleveland man awarded $13.2 million for being wrongfully imprisoned for 13 years for a murder he did not commit.
“We are not a party to the lawsuit,” said Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.’s spokesman Greg Flannagan. “We have no further comment as it is a pending case.”
Defendants of Gillispie’s suit include former Miami Twp. Police Chief Thomas Angel and other officers, members of the Miami Valley Crime Lab and five GM security guards or supervisors Gillispie said were part of a conspiracy.
The suit also claims township police officers removed exculpatory evidence from the case file and doctored a photo of Gillispie to manipulate the victims’ identification.
Gillispie was aided in becoming a free man by the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati and former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.
Gillispie was sentenced to 22 years to 56 years after a jury in February 1991 convicted him of nine counts of rape, three counts of kidnapping, three counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of aggravated robbery.
Gillispie fought his conviction for two decades. Merz overruled a state appellate court, which had determined that the withheld evidence likely would not have changed the outcome of the trial.