On October 31, 2006, 36-year-old Donald Glassman, an archivist at Barnard College in New York City, was falsely accused by his wife of holding her down and forcing himself upon her that morning. He was immediately arrested and charged with first-degree rape and assault.
After more than 100 hours behind bars, he was released on bail. Two weeks later, his accuser testified to a grand jury that Glassman had non-forcibly imposed sexual relations on her, not on October 31st, but on an indefinite date in September.
He went on trial in New York State Supreme Court in October 2007. His accuser testified that he had raped and assaulted her. Glassman, who had been fired from his $50,200-a-year job by Barnard because of the accusations, wanted to and intended to testify, but his attorney, Howard L. Blau, decided on his own to rest the case without calling Glassman or presenting any other evidence.
There was no physical or forensic evidence in the case. Glassman was convicted by a jury on October 17, 2007 of rape in the third degree and two misdemeanor counts of prohibited contact, and was acquitted of the assault charge.
After the conviction, Glassman fired Blau and retained new counsel who brought a motion for a new trial, alleging that Blau failed to explain to Glassman that he had the final say on whether to testify.
On July 23, 2008, New York State Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald granted the motion for a new trial, noting Blau's inexperience in criminal cases. “I am convinced this man has really no criminal experience,” FitzGerald said. “I don’t think he truly was familiar with the defendant’s right to testify.”
The judge said Blau’s decision to rest his case without calling Glassman “was a precipitous and personal decision of Mr. Blau himself without really conferring with the defendant.”
Glassman went on trial a second time—this time without a jury—and testified in his own defense. He denied raping his then-wife (they had divorced). He testified that he believed she had been coached by a relative to concoct the charges because she was an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and wanted to obtain a fast-track green card pursuant to the Violence against Women Act.
On February 11, 2009, Glassman was acquitted of all charges by Justice John Cataldo of New York State Supreme Court.
Blau was suspended from practice of law in February 2008 after misappropriating nearly $764,000 from client funds. He was disbarred after continuing to practice despite the suspension. In May 2010, Blau was ordered to pay Glassman nearly $500,000 in a malpractice lawsuit. The judgment was not paid.
In October, 2012, Blau pleaded guilty to two felonies--one count of grand larceny in the second degree and one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud in the first degree. He was sentenced to 18 months to 4.5 years in prison. Blau was paroled in March 2014 after serving the minimum 18 months in prison.
Glassman was admitted to the Brooklyn Law School in 2010 and expects to graduate in 2014.
– Maurice Possley