Part 2

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – Part 2

Part 2
Regular Contributor
In a separate statement, the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, called Mr. Fappiano’s imprisonment a “tragedy.” Mr. Hynes also said that while Mr. Fappiano was convicted long before his tenure as district attorney, his office “conducted extensive investigations into this case and moved immediately to have him released” once the new DNA tests were performed.

The Brooklyn woman, who was not named in court documents, was raped several times in different rooms of her and her husband’s house in December 1983. Her husband, a police officer, had been tied up by the rapist in the couple’s bedroom with a telephone cord. The rapist had broken into the house and carried a gun, court documents said.

The woman identified Mr. Fappiano as her rapist while flipping through police photographs of men who matched the general description of her assailant, and later picked him out of a lineup, though he was five inches shorter than the man she said had attacked her and had shorter hair.

But the woman’s husband did not identify Mr. Fappiano out of the lineup. Though investigators retrieved nearly a dozen pieces of physical evidence of the crime — including cigarettes the rapist had smoked, vaginal swabs from a rape kit and **bleep** stains on a towel and on a pair of sweat pants the victim put on after the attack– blood tests failed to link any of it to Mr. Fappiano.

A jury deadlocked in his first trial, before a second jury convicted him in 1985, with a sentence of up to 50 years in prison.

“Going to jail for rape is hard,” Mr. Fappiano said yesterday, recalling a prison pecking order in which only pedophiles rated less respect than rapists. “Going to jail for rape when a police officer’s wife is involved is really hard.”

He spent four years in prison before he first requested DNA testing of the physical evidence in the case, after reading about the process in a newspaper in 1989. A judge agreed to send the victim’s sweat pants to Lifecodes, a DNA laboratory, now defunct, for testing. But the technology at the time was not sophisticated enough to produce a DNA profile from the sample, and Mr. Fappiano remained in prison.

In 2002, the Innocence Project agreed to represent Mr. Fappiano, who hoped that more advanced DNA testing would exonerate him. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office agreed to help.

But after a yearlong search that covered the city agencies that had had custody of the original physical evidence, the officials could not find any of it. The district attorney’s office did not have it. It was not in police storage at Pearson Place in Queens. The sweat pants, the cigarette butts, the rape kit — all the evidence seemed to have disappeared. Worse for Mr. Fappiano, the paper trail appeared to end in 1985.

“No one could find the evidence,” Ms. Morrison said, “but more troublingly, no one knows what happened to it.”

So Mr. Fappiano waited. When the parole board offered to consider reducing his sentence in exchange for an admission of guilt, he declined.

“I never gave up hope that I would come home,” he said yesterday. “But I didn’t want to come home until I could prove I was innocent.”

10-13-2006 02:28 PM

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