City of Warren settles rape case lawsuit for $2.8M

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- A Detroit suburb has agreed to pay $2.8 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a man who spent nearly 12 years in prison for rape before winning an acquittal at a second trial.

The deal between Jeffrey Moldowan and the city of Warren and one of its former police detectives, Donald Ingles, was agreed to last week in federal court. A trial involving the remaining defendants is set for next month.

Moldowan was convicted of abducting a former girlfriend, raping her and dumping her on a street in Detroit in 1990. He was 20 at the time. His conviction, as well as the conviction of an alleged accomplice, was thrown out in 2002 based on new alibi witnesses and an expert who recanted her testimony about bite marks found on the victim.

The Macomb County prosecutor put Moldowan and Michael Cristini through a second trial in 2003 and they were acquitted.

Moldowan, now 41, filed a lawsuit in 2005, claiming his civil rights were violated by a bungled police investigation and the decision to hold a second trial. He also sued Dr. Alan Warnick, whose bite-mark testimony was crucial in the 1991 trial. Warnick reached an out-of-court settlement in August.

The $2.8 million deal with Warren was made Oct. 11, less than a month after the city offered $2 million, court records show.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said the city is paying $250,000, with the balance covered by insurance. He said insurance companies, concerned about the cost of going to trial and the possibility of a large jury award, forced the settlement.

"I'm not happy but they had the final word," Fouts told The Associated Press. "Jurors aren't angels."

Messages seeking comment from Moldowan's attorneys were not returned Tuesday. Trial is set for Nov. 2 for the remaining defendants, Macomb County and prosecutor Eric Smith. They offered $100,000 to settle on Oct. 6.

After Moldowan's '91 conviction, a private investigator found a witness who said he saw four black men standing around the body of a naked female and that two of them had bragged about the assault. The victim had told police that her attackers were white and familiar to her.

The woman also had been seen at a crack house in the Detroit neighborhood that summer.

Moldowan sued the woman who accused him of rape, but a federal appeals court in 2009 said she could not be pursued. Her statements were "critical" in the decision to file charges but "were only part of a broader, independent investigation," the court said.

A similar lawsuit filed by Cristini in 2007 is pending.

Published: Thu, Oct 20, 2011


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