BRUCE GODSCHALK.docx - Contested-Convictions

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    The Incident:      In Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 1986, a man entered an

Location:              apartment complex and attacked and raped two women.
                       Bruce Godschalk would later be blamed for this crime.
       County, PA
Date: 1986
Crime: Rape/Burglary
                       The police broadcast a likeness of the assailant from the
                       description that one of the victims provided of her attacker. On
                       December 30, 1986, the police received a call telling them that the
   The Witnesses       caller had seen someone that “resembled the man in the
   Identification      composite sketch.” The speaker identified Bruce Godschalk. Six
                       months after the two rapes, after studying an array for more than
                       an hour, the other of the two victims was able to identify
                       Godschalk as her rapist. The second victim could not.
                       Mr. Godschalk was a 26 year old who had, at the time of his arrest,
   The Defendant       been in the employ of a landscaper. He lived lived in Philadelphia
                       with his two parents. His priors were minor: possession of
                       marijuana (6 grams) and driving while impaired.
                       On January 13, 1987 after several lengthy hours of interrogation,
                       Mr. Godschalk made a confession to a police detective named
  The Confession
                       Bruce Saville that contained information that had not yet been
                       disclosed to the public.

                The prosecution relied on:
                              the identification made by the second victim
   The Trial
                              Godschalk's confession
 witness ID                  the testimony of a jailhouse snitch who claimed that
 confession                   Godschalk had made incriminating statements
 jailhouse                   the presence of semen in the evidence collected

 presence of                  from the investigation of both crimes. (Conventional
                               serology could not exclude Godschalk from being
                               the donor of the semen)
                “The defense put forth an alibi defense”, but it did not hold.
                In May 1987, Bruce Godschalk, was convicted of two counts forcible
                rape and two counts burglary, largely on the basis of the confession
The Sentence
                to detectives that he recanted long before his trial. He was
                sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison.


                      Godschalk spent seven years trying to arrange for DNA testing of
                      the evidence in his case, at his own expense. His motions were
    Reaching out
                      denied. Then, in 1995Godschalk contacted the Innocence Project
                      who took on his case.

Legal Difficulties:   Getting ahold of the evidence was a different matter entirely. The

Section 1983 civil    prosecution was not inclined to give it up easily. “In November
                      2000, the Innocence Project and local counsel filed a Section 1983
rights complaint
                      civil rights complaint seeking access to the evidence.” The
     (Nov. 2000)
                      prosecution made a motion to dismiss which was denied. “The
Motion for summary    Federal District Court granted access to the evidence and the
judgement             District Attorney consented to release the evidence in the spring of
     (June 2001)      2001. Delays in setting a testing protocol and delivering the
                      evidence led to the Innocence Project filing of a motion for
                      summary judgement in June 2001.”
                      Finally, in January 2002, Forensic Science Associates tested the
       Testing        evidence from both cases. Both sides waited with bated breath for
                      what the tests would reveal.
                      The DNA evidence revealed that the two rapes were definitively
                      connected; the DNA from both crime scenes matched. The same
       Results        man had committed both crimes. The DNA results also revealed
                      that that man was not Bruce Godschalk. The District Attorney had
                      their own laboratory perform testing to confirm the results.
                      “Despite the fact that their own laboratory obtained similar results
     More Legal       from the evidence, the District Attorney's Office refused to release
     Difficulties     Godschalk from prison, citing possibly flawed testing in the face of
                      the evidence, namely the confession and the victim’s id.” The
                       prosecutor also remained convinced that Godschalk was somehow

PART III: Confession/ Government Misconduct

                       Before the state will consent to DNA testing, there must be a
                       sufficient evidence to believe that testing will result in overturning
                       a conviction. Because Godschalk had confessed to the crime,
                       things were looking bleak- unless the Innocence Project could
                       somehow prove that the confession had been botched or coerced.
                       In 1999, The Innocence Project finally got its hands on the tape of
  The Confession
                       the confession which the prosecution had refused to for years to
                       provide. The tape was analyzed by an expert, who assessed that
                       the likelihood that the confession was false was high. “Despite this
                       new evidence, the District Attorney refused to allow access to the
                       biological evidence for testing”, forcing the Innocence Project to
                       take greater measures (see ‘Legal Difficulties’ above).
                       At one point in the case, after months of delay, when the
                       prosecution was forced to hand over DNA evidence, they were
                       forced to reveal that they didn’t have it anymore. Apparently, they
Suspicious Behavior/
                       had “sent the relevant evidence to a laboratory and had it tested,
                       without the knowledge or consent of [either] the Innocence Project
                       [or the defendant Bruce Godschalk].” Prosecutors reported that
                       not only had their laboratory produced ‘inconclusive’ results but
                       “all the evidence had been consumed in this secret testing.”
                       Also, “several of the "facts" represented in the District Attorney's
                       motion were false. Though they claimed that all of the evidence
                       from one of the crimes was sent to the laboratory, a carpet sample
                       with semen was never received by the laboratory. [This is fortunate
                      because the prosecution’s laboratory never had the chance to
                      ‘consume’ it in testing.] The District Attorney's Office told the
                      Court that the carpet sample was not introduced as evidence and
                      was not significant to the case, though this sample originated from
                      the home of the victim that could not identify Godschalk and was
                      used at trial to tie him to the scene of the crime.” It was this carpet
                      sample that would provide the exculpating evidence.
                                                                                   (provided by the Innocence
                                                                                   Project website)

                                                                                   Bruce Godschalk is
                                                                                   the Innocence
                                                                                   Project’s featured
                                                                                   case under the
                                                                                   heading of
                      “The prosecution had entrusted the same police officer that had
                      elicited Godschalk's confession with the delivery of the evidence to
 The Officer: Bruce
                      the laboratory. He had also been the investigating officer that had
        Saville       removed [the afore mentioned] carpet from the crime scene.”
                      (also, the hours leading up to the confession were never taped, the tape only had the
                      actual confession on it)
                                                                            (provided by the Innocence
                                                                            Project website)

                                                                            “Most law enforcement
                                                                            officers and prosecutors are
                                                                            honest and trustworthy. But
                                                                            criminal justice is a human
                                                                            endeavor and the possibility
                                                                            for corruption exists. Even if
                                                                            one officer of every thousand
                                                                            is dishonest, wrongful
                                                                            convictions will continue to

                           Since his release, Godschalk has maintained not only his
                           innocence, but that his confession was coerced, that Saville had
                           threatened him and had himself provided the publicly undisclosed
Allegations are made details it contained (details which had made the confession
                           compelling enough to assure his conviction and the judge’s refusal
                           to throw the confession at trial), allegations it appears that are
                           supported by the test results…


                           On Valentine’s Day, 2002, “After [nearly] fifteen years in prison and
                           seven years of fighting for DNA testing, Bruce Godschalk was
 (February 14, 2002 )
                           exonerated and released from prision.”
                           While Mr. Godschalk was in prison, his sister, his only sibling; his
                           father; and his mother all died. His mother left money in her will to
                           pay for DNA testing. The tests cost about $10,000.
                           He was compensated by the way of $-----------
                           The real perpetrator has yet to be found.

Note: All quotes are from Bruce Godschalk’s profile on the innocence Project’s website.

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