Some 23 years after a New York City rape victim was denounced as a hoaxer by a prominent newspaper columnist, police say they have solved the case with modern DNA-testing methods. After the woman was raped in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in 1994 while carrying groceries home, New York Daily News columnist Mike McAlary wrote that police sources had told him that the "woman, who will probably end up being arrested herself, invented the crime" to promote a rally denouncing violence against lesbians, the AP reports. He called the column "Rape hoax the real crime." In later columns, McAlary insisted he was right even after semen was found on the woman's jogging shorts. The woman sued him for libel but a judge decided to dismiss the case.
Investigators say the DNA belongs to James Edward Webb, a 67-year-old serial rapist who is serving a 75 years-to-life sentence in Sing Sing. He was convicted in 1997 of four rapes and an attempted rape. Authorities say they will be unable to charge him in the Prospect Park rape because it happened before 2006, when the state eliminated the statute of limitations in rape cases, the New York Times reports. A lawyer for the woman, who is now 51 years old and married with two children, says the police and the Daily News owe her an apology. "This is a woman who had to live for 23 years with a false accusation of lying, with threats to the newspaper that she was about to be arrested," Martin Garbus says. "It's horrific." McAlary isn't around to apologize: The columnist died of cancer in 1998.