Man Jailed In Fake Rape Wins $350,000 From Accuser
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A West Philadelphia man has been awarded $350,000 for spending 315 days in jail after being falsely accused of sexual assault by a volunteer for Women Organized Against Rape.
That volunteer, Muriel Stein, was ordered by a judge Thursday to pay the award to John Goodson, the man she accused of attacking her in 1985.
Common Pleas Court Judge Victor J. DiNuble Jr. made the award after a brief hearing. Stein had failed to appear for a trial on Oct. 1 in a lawsuit Goodson filed against her.
DiNuble set compensatory damages of $150,000 and punitive damages of $200,000.
Goodson, 35, was tried, convicted and sent to prison on Stein’s accusation. He was released from prison and exonerated in 1986 after the District Attorney’s Office conducted a reinvestigation and concluded that Stein’s allegation was gravely in doubt.
John K. Lieberman, Goodson’s lawyer, told the Philadelphia Inquirer, ″This is a vindication for Mr. Goodson. That feels good.″
Lieberman said collecting the $350,000 will be difficult since Stein has not responded to recent notices in connection with the lawsuit.
Stein, 43, a former self-employed archaeologist now living in New Mexico, did not show at Thursday’s hearing. Lieberman said he phone in New Mexico had been disconnected.
Stein had been a volunteer for WOAR, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sex crimes, for about a year when she reported that two men had assaulted her in her Philadelphia home.
Medical tests and an examination by police yielded no physical evidence of a crime beyond some bruises and scrapes on Stein’s head and face.
She identified Goodson, who had been convicted of robbery in 1978, from a police photograph as one of her assailants. She never identified the other attacker.
Her testimony was the primary evidence against Goodson, who was convicted after a trial in November, 1985.
In 1986, the District Attorney’s Office reopened the case after it was determined that a series of anonymous telephone threats received by WOAR, in which the caller said Goodson was plotting to kill Stein, had been made by Stein herself. The charges against Goodson were then dropped on the recommendation of the district attorney’s rape unit.