In 1988, Amin Baba-Ali's wife accused him of raping their 4 year-old daughter during a custody visit in his Queens, New York home. Baba-Ali and his wife were in the midst of a bitter divorce battle.
The first two doctors to examine the girl concluded there was no abuse. However, the mother then found a New York City public health clinic doctor, Nadine Haddad Sabbagh, who said she found evidence that Baba-Ali had raped his daughter multiple times, breaking her hymen.
Sabbagh's examination and testimony was the only evidence of abuse presented at the trial. Though the daughter testified, she did not implicate her father and did not remember being abused.
The prosecution had the records from the first two doctors, who found no abuse, but failed to turn them over to the defense until the night before the trial. Baba-Ali's public defender then failed to subpoena the two doctors to testify.
After a bench trial in December 1989, Baba-Ali was convicted of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault and was sentenced to 8-to-25-years in prison.
In January 1992, Baba-Ali's conviction was overturned on appeal based on his ineffective defense counsel and prosecutorial misconduct.
Prior to bringing the case to retrial, prosecutors had the girl examined again. The examination found that the girl’s hymen was intact and that there was no evidence of abuse, directly contradicting the testimony of the doctor during the first trial. The charges against Baba-Ali were then dropped.
Later that year, in October 1992, New York prosecutors vacated the conviction of Teobaldo Guce
, who had been convicted in 1987 of raping his 5-year-old daughter based on the testimony of Sabbagh, who said she found physical evidence showing the girl had been raped. Guce also had been convicted of child endangerment after his 7-year-old daughter said she saw the rape. The case was dismissed after both girls recanted.
Baba-Ali sued the state under the Court of Claims Act and was awarded approximately $350,000 in pecuniary damages and $1,000,000 in non-pecuniary damages.
- Stephanie Denzel