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Eric Sarsfield

Other Massachusetts Cases with Perjury or False Accusations
Eric Sarsfield was convicted of the August 24, 1986 rape of a Middlesex County, Massachusetts woman by a stranger.

More than three months after the crime, Sarsfield was brought in for a one-on-one show-up, during which the victim offered a less than certain identification of him as her attacker.

The case went to trial and Sarsfield was convicted of the crime on July 14, 1987. Despite the existence of a rape kit with biological specimens, the Commonwealth offered no physical evidence at trial to link Sarsfield to the crime and, to a large extent, based its case on the victim’s identification.

Sarsfield was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. His sentence was stayed, pending appeals, until late 1989, at which point he began serving time.

Throughout the trial and his post-conviction appeals, Sarsfield maintained his innocence, rejecting multiple offers for early release from prison in exchange for an admission of guilt. On December 28, 19897, he filed a motion seeking DNA comparison testing of items in the rape kit, which the Commonwealth opposed.

The judge granted the motion and DNA testing was conducted on clothing the victim wore at the time of the crime. In March 2000, the test results came back, indicating that Sarsfield was excluded as the source of semen found on the clothing.

Unsatisfied, the District Attorney’s office requested and was granted permission to conduct additional testing on vaginal swabs and a blood swatch from the rape kit. Those results also excluded Sarsfield.

His attorney, George Garfinkle, filed a motion for post-conviction relief on August 3, 2000, which was granted. The District Attorney’s office did not re-prosecute. Sarsfield, who was released on parole in June 1999, served nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Sarsfield later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that was settled for $2 million. He also sued under the Massachusetts compensation statute and was awarded $500,000.

– Summary courtesy of the Innocence Project, Reproduced with permission.

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:Assault
Reported Crime Date:1986
Sentence:10 to 15 years
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes