BRUCE GODSCHALK by cuiliqing



     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.
Date: 1986
                      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 Witnesses       the 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
  The Defendant       arrest, 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
  The Confession
                      detective named 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 Godschalk had made incriminating
 confession
 jailhouse
                             the presence of semen in the evidence collected
 presence of                 from the investigation of both crimes.
  fluids                      (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 Sentence
                the confession 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
   Reaching out
                       motions were 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.

Section 1983 civil     The prosecution was not inclined to give it up easily. “In
                       November 2000, the Innocence Project and local counsel filed
rights complaint
                       a Section 1983 civil rights complaint seeking access to the
      (Nov. 2000)
                       evidence.” The prosecution made a motion to dismiss which
Motion for summary was denied. “The Federal District Court granted access to the
judgement          evidence and the District Attorney consented to release the
      (June 2001)      evidence in the spring of 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
                       Finally, in January 2002, Forensic Science Associates tested
       Testing         the 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 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
    More Legal         results from the evidence, the District Attorney's Office refused
     Difficulties      to release 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 responsible.

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
 The Confession   got its hands on the tape of 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

   Suspicious     were forced to reveal that they didn’t have it anymore.
                  Apparently, they 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
   Misconduct     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
     (cont.)      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

                                                                                 Bruce Godschalk is
                                                                                 the Innocence
                                                                                 Project’s featured
                                                                                 case under the
                                                                                 heading of
Government misconduct.
                         “The prosecution had entrusted the same police officer that
                         had elicited Godschalk's confession with the delivery of the

The Officer: Bruce       evidence to the laboratory. He had also been the investigating
                         officer that had 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

                                                                      “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
    Allegations are
                         undisclosed 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…


          Exonerated:    On Valentine’s Day, 2002, “After [nearly] fifteen years in

(February 14, 2002 prison and seven years of fighting for DNA testing, Bruce
                         Godschalk was 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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