In October 1996, a University of Akron student accused fellow student and friend, Nathaniel Lewis, of raping her in her Akron, Ohio dorm. Lewis claimed that the victim invited him to her dorm room, and they had consensual sex. Portions of the victim’s diary, which indicated that the sex was consensual and that she had accused Lewis of rape because she was tired of being considered promiscuous, were anonymously mailed to Lewis before trial. However, the court ruled that the relevant portions were inadmissible under Ohio’s rape shield law. In June 1997, a jury convicted Lewis of rape, and he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.
In October 2002, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Lewis’s habeas corpus petition, ruling that the relevant diary portions should have been admitted, and Lewis was released. Prosecutors dismissed the charges that same month after the victim refused to testify in a second trial. In September 2004, a Summit County judge declared Lewis innocent of the rape, allowing him to pursue compensation from the state. He was eventually awarded $662,000.
- Stephanie Denzel