Tyrone Clark Free After 1974 Rape Conviction Vacated in Massachusetts

In Summary

Tyrone Clark, a Black man, recently had his 1974 rape conviction dismissed in Massachusetts due to a severe lack of evidence. 

WARNING: This story contains details of rape. 

For the first time in 50 years, Tyrone Clark was able to spend Thanksgiving Day with his only living relative—because a Massachusetts judge vacated his 1974 rape conviction, as reported by CNN

The ruling was predicated on the Commonwealth’s failure to preserve evidence, as well as an unsolicited statement from the victim in the case raising severe doubts about the accuracy of her previous identification, per a news release from the Suffolk County district attorney

RELATED: Julius Jones’ Execution Commuted After Oklahoma Governor Grants Clemency 

Clark, a Black man, was 18 years old when he was charged with the rape, assault and kidnapping of a white woman named Anne Kane. 

The evidence in question, biological material on a piece of the victim’s clothes, was not saved by investigators in 1973, and the one piece of physical evidence, a knife handle, was tampered with over the years, resulting in inconclusive forensic tests. 

District Attorney Rachael Rollins went on to say that the only forensic evidence that could have exonerated Clark was mistakenly destroyed by the Commonwealth. 

“He’s been arguing for 50 years that he got an unfair trial, the court agreed with him,” Clark’s attorney Jeffrey Harris told CNN. “This is in no small part due to an amazing person who came forward and said she might have gotten the wrong guy in 1973.” 

RELATED: Kevin Strickland Exonerated After Spending 43 Years in Missouri Prison 

Clark’s other convictions stemming from the 1973 incident, such as armed robbery and kidnapping, were not affected because they were based on different evidence and testimony. 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.

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