In October, 2008, 34-year-old Rubin Swift was charged with raping a girl in 2006 and 2007, when she was 11 and 12 years old, in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Police said the girl alleged that Swift assaulted her at various locations in Erie.
Swift was charged with these rapes after he was arrested in September 2008 on a fugitive warrant for insurance fraud. He had been charged in 2006 with falsely reporting the theft of his truck to collect on the insurance and attempting to obtain insurance reimbursement for medical bills that he had not paid, according to authorities.
He left Erie after the insurance charges were brought and was arrested by deputy U.S. Marshals on Sept. 30, 2008 in Rochester, New York, after he escaped from a mental health facility near Cleveland.
Swift was known in Erie for political activism that included raising money for the homeless by living in a plywood shack in downtown Erie for several days in 2003. He claimed to have walked from Erie to Washington, D.C., to protest the high cost of gasoline and briefly ran for mayor in 2004 before dropping out of the race.
The prosecution of the rape charges was initially delayed after Swift, who had a history of schizophrenia, was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
He was found competent in June 2009 and in October 2009 he pled no contest to one count each of first-degree felony rape of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
On February 2, 2010, Swift was sentenced to 28 years to 60 years and nine months in prison. He had earlier pled guilty to the insurance fraud charges and received a sentence of 30 to 60 months in prison.
Four months later, on June 7, 2010, Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri announced that serious questions had been raised about the medical findings of Rhonda Henderson, a nurse who examined child abuse victims for the state office of Children and Youth as well as victims of sexual assault in several jurisdictions in Pennsylvania, including Erie County.
Daneri said that in April 2010, an expert examined Henderson’s work on a sexual assault case in Allegheny County and found that Henderson’s finding of injuries to a sexual assault victim were “completely inconsistent” with the photos Henderson took of the victim.
Daneri then sent 11 pending Erie County sexual assault cases involving Henderson’s work to two experts who reviewed Henderson’s findings and found that in all cases, Henderson made “erroneous findings and/or substantial ‘overcalling’ of injuries.”
In September 2011, Swift was allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas to rape and involuntary deviate intercourse based on the serious questions raised about Henderson’s examination of the victim.
Swift went on trial in March 2012. The state amended its charges to change the years when the assaults allegedly occurred to 2005 and 2006, instead of 2006 and 2007.
The girl, by then 16 years old, testified that Swift had repeatedly assaulted her.
In his defense, Swift presented a medical expert from Colorado who examined Henderson’s original finding that the girl had been sexually assaulted. The Colorado expert found no abnormalities indicating she had been assaulted sexually.
The defense also presented evidence that Swift was not living in Erie at the time of some of the alleged rapes.
On March 13, 2012, Swift was acquitted by a jury. He remained in custody on the insurance fraud prison sentence and still faced robbery and kidnapping charges in Ohio for allegedly robbing and kidnapping drug dealers in Cleveland, police said.
– Maurice Possley