A man who spent 20 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit has now received a settlement of $45 million.
The horrors he felt
Roger “Dean” Gillispie, 46, was released from jail three days before Christmas after serving 20 years in prison for rapes he insisted he did not commit.
This was made possible by the tenacious work of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP), run by the UC College of Law. Students and professor Mark Godsey, the director of OIP and a former federal prosecutor, have steadfastly worked on the case since it became OIP’s first case nine years ago.
In Ohio, Roger “Dean” Gillispie was found guilty in 1991 of kidnapping and raping twin sisters who were 22 years old and a 28-year-old lady, as well as committing aggravated robbery.
He was facing a further 56 years in prison but consistently maintained his innocence. After more than 20 years in jail, he was finally able to walk out in 2011.
He wasn’t actually found not guilty of the offenses for which he had been wrongly convicted until 2021, though.
After a judge ruled that “no physical evidence” had ever related him to the case and that there had been evidence suppression, it opened the door for Gillispie to start a civil trial in which he sought compensation for the period he had been imprisoned.
Justice delayed, is Justice denied
The biggest compensation in Ohio history, for $45 million, has now been given to Dean.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that a jury determined that Gillispie’s rights had been violated by investigator Scott Moore, who withheld information that would have aided his defense and exaggerated his size in photographs of a suspect lineup to deceive the victims.
The move was hailed but Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project, who campaigned to liberate Gillispie from his unjust imprisonment, said “nothing will recompense” the atrocities Dean had gone through.
The misery perpetrated on Dean, his family, and the town, he added, was difficult to comprehend.
“It was so upsetting how the authorities pushed for a conviction before fighting back and refusing to acknowledge a mistake. Nothing can make up for Dean’s horror.
“The jury’s decision sends a clear message that individuals in positions of authority ought to alter their behavior,”
Gillispie used the opportunity to demand justice for the thousands of additional individuals who had been unfairly detained and had lived a significant portion of their life in jail for crimes they had not committed.
I’m simply one of 3,199 persons in the United States of America who this happened to, he claimed.
They have accrued more than 28,000 years of incarceration for crimes they did not commit. This needs to end. It’s necessary to fix this system. My life was saved by the Ohio Innocence Project.”
The jury in Gillispie’s civil action, which resulted in a $45 million settlement, found that investigator Moore had falsely asserted that a witness in the case had positively identified him.
Later, after the investigator said the innocent guy had “dyed his hair,” he warned the victims that they would not recognize Dean when they saw him in court.
They were also presented supporting documentation that the investigator had withheld, such as receipts that showed Gillispie was in fact in Kentucky at the time of the crimes.