DNA Exonerates Bronx Man After He Wrongfully Spent 25 Years in Prison for Sexual Assault of a Child

After spending a full 25-year sentence in prison for a crime he did not commit, a Bronx, New York, man was exonerated by the first prosecutorial conviction review unit on the East Coast.

Rafael Ruiz was convicted in 1985 for sexually assaulting a girl in East Harlem. Ruiz, then 25, was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison and was released on parole in 2009 after serving the entire stint.

Now, at the age of 60, Ruiz had his felony conviction wiped off his criminal record after newly tested DNA from the victim’s sex assault kit found by the Innocence Project and the Manhattan District Attorney Office’s Conviction Integrity Program excluded him from the case.

“We were pleased to be joined in today’s motion by the Innocence Project and I’m grateful for their continued partnership,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in a statement on Tuesday.

Ruiz’s conviction was based on the description of a man named “Ronnie” who fit the victim’s description of her attacker.

“I was thinking about my freedom the entire time I was sitting there,” Ruiz told New York ABC station WABC after the judge tossed the conviction.

“The complainant’s current account of her 1984 assault differed significantly from her initial statements to investigators, the medical evidence, and her testimony at trial,” according to the motion prosecutors filed agreeing to vacate Ruiz’s conviction on Tuesday. “She said that the detective was pushing her to identify the guy and told her that this guy is hurting women.”

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SOURCE: ABC News