Rape conviction overturned due to dementia diagnosis
The Brooklyn DA threw out the conviction of a man who pleaded guilty in 2012 to raping an acquaintance who had a mental disability – after an investigation found that the man also had a mental disability, and that he likely did not receive effective legal assistance.
Livingston Broomes, 70, pleaded guilty in 2012 to second-degree rape, after a mentally disabled acquaintance accused him of repeatedly forcing her to have sex. He served out his four-year sentence, but was scheduled to be on post-release supervision through 2024 and also had to register as a sex offender. The Brooklyn DA’s Conviction Review Unit – started in 2014 under the late DA Ken Thompson – moved to vacate the case.
“Expert analysis of his mental capacity and an examination of the rest of the evidence reveal that the case was prosecuted as if an intellectually able individual had sexual relations with a person incapable of consent,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement. “The CRU investigation, however, revealed that he also likely suffered mental disabilities and likely did not receive effective legal assistance.”
Broomes was arrested in May 2011 and pleaded guilty to the charge of “engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally disabled or mentally incapacitated.” But the CRU found that because of Broomes’ own mental disabilities, he may have pleaded guilty to a crime of which, legally, he was not guilty.
The CRU discovered that Broomes had been in a motorcycle accident in Barbados decades ago and suffered broken legs and head trauma that left him in a coma for more than six months. His relatives told the CRU that he is “slow,” and he was diagnosed with dementia just weeks after his arrest in the rape case.
On top of that, CRU found that Broomes’ lawyer did not remember that Broomes showed signs of dementia. And when he pleaded guilty, Broomes first said, “I really didn’t rape nobody,” according to the DA’s investigation.
Broomes’ is only the second pleaded conviction to be overturned by the CRU, according to a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA.
It is the 26th overall conviction overturned since the CRU was founded and comes a week after protestors criticized the unit for not overturning as many convictions as it did in its first few years. The CRU has ruled in 80 cases that the convictions are valid, and has approximately 80 cases it has not ruled on yet.
The exoneration comes one day after a Long Island man had his attempted rape and murder conviction overturned, after serving 33 years in prison.
Oscar Michelen, a litigator who has worked to get clients convictions overturned in Brooklyn, said Broomes’ exoneration proves that the Brooklyn CRU is not afraid to look at more recent cases.
Broomes’ case, decided in 2012, is the most recent case the CRU has overturned thus far, according to the DA.
“They’re not scared of looking at things that are a little closer to home and not one that we can point a finger at decades past,” he said.
“I don’t think any other CRU would have even looked at this case. It’s a case where the guy pled guilty and he hadn’t spent that much time in prison. It shows that the CRU is willing to look at any conviction that doesn’t merit standing behind.”
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