CLINTON — A Clinton man is seeking more than $300,000 in compensation from the state of Iowa after a judge ruled he was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. But David DeSimone says the money won’t make up for five years in prison that he called “a living hell.”
“I’m having a hard time getting over this,” DeSimone said Wednesday. “What they did to me was rotten to the core.”
DeSimone, 53, has filed a claim with the State Appeal Board seeking $309,000 in compensation for the more than five years he spent in prison after being convicted by a Clinton County jury in 2005 of third-degree sexual abuse, according to his attorney, Michael McCarthy of Davenport.
During the trial, the prosecution alleged that DeSimone sexually abused a 17-year-old girl who had attended a party at his residence in October 2004.
The alleged victim called 911 from the Clinton Hy-Vee store at 3:06 a.m. Oct. 17.
During the trial, a witness testified that she had been driving in that area of Clinton that night and had seen a girl crossing the street from the area of DeSimone’s residence and heading toward the Hy-Vee store.
After DeSimone’s conviction, it was revealed that the witness’s timecard from her job at a Clinton Burger King showed she had been working until 3:30 a.m. Oct. 17, after the alleged victim had already called 911 from the Hy-Vee store.
DeSimone was released from prison a year ago after the Iowa Supreme Court threw out his conviction, ruling that Assistant Clinton County Attorney Ross Barlow failed to disclose the timecard evidence that would have discredited the witness’s testimony.
DeSimone received a second trial on the charge in March and was found not guilty by a Clinton County jury.
Last month, Clinton County District Judge Marlita Greve ruled that DeSimone had been wrongfully imprisoned because he was innocent of the crime.
In her ruling, Greve cited the Iowa Attorney General’s Office’s failure to present any witnesses during a hearing on the issue of DeSimone’s claim of wrongful imprisonment. She also cited the police investigation that turned up no evidence that the alleged victim had been assaulted.
“David (DeSimone) did not rape (the alleged victim),” Greve wrote in her ruling. “David did not commit any sexual abuse or any assault on (the alleged victim). The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that David is factually innocent of this charge. The court further finds by clear and convincing evidence that there was no sexual abuse crime committed against (the alleged victim) by anyone on October 16 or 17 of 2004. There is absolutely no evidence of any kind that substantiates (the alleged victim) was sexually assaulted.”
The state has filed an appeal of Greve’s ruling. Assistant Iowa Attorney General William Hill could not be reached for comment. Barlow said Wednesday he could not comment on the case because the outcome is still pending.
Greve’s ruling makes DeSimone eligible for compensation from the state. According to state code, people who are determined to have been wrongfully imprisoned are entitled to $50 per day of their imprisonment, as well as compensation for lost wages and attorney fees.
Because the attorney general’s office would have to approve a compensation payment to DeSimone and already has filed an appeal of the ruling, McCarthy said he doesn’t expect DeSimone to receive any compensation until after the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled on the appeal, which could take another year.
McCarthy said he doesn’t believe the state has much of a case for an appeal of Greve’s ruling.
“Their appeal has no appeal, if you ask me,” he said.
DeSimone also was tried and acquitted of charges of second-degree sexual abuse and third-degree sexual abuse in 2002. The cases were based on the allegations of two separate victims.
DeSimone said the alleged victims in all three sexual abuse cases against him were connected to estranged family members.
DeSimone said he believes the state didn’t call the alleged victim to testify during the hearing to determine if he was wrongfully imprisoned because she wasn’t credible.
“They knew her story would differ again because she can’t keep anything straight,” he said.
DeSimone said he has had trouble keeping a job since his release from prison last year.
He said while the money would be helpful, he doesn’t feel it would make up for what he believes the legal system, including Barlow and several judges, did to him.
“I’d trade it all to see Barlow do seven years in prison,” he said.