East Texas Man Cleared in 24-Year-Old Rape Case - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/19/07 - Lufkin

East Texas Man Cleared in 24-Year-Old Rape Case

by Ramonica R. Jones

After spending ten years in a federal prison a Texas man is expecting to get a pardon from Governor Perry.

Fifty-three year-old James Curtis Giles was convicted of gang raping a pregnant woman in Dallas back in 1982. He was paroled a decade later and has been living as a registered sex offender ever since, but now authorities are saying Giles' conviction was based on a case of mistaken identity.

His conviction was overturned last week.

Vanessa Potkin, Innocence Project attorney, said, "His whole conviction rests on a single eyewitness identification and for over 15 years, he's been trying to get DNA testing to prove his claim of innocence."

Authorities now believe DNA evidence shows another man with the same name who lived across the street from the rape victim committed the crime.

Giles is trying to move on with his life and is now a business owner in Lufkin. His conviction was overturned, but he still has a long way to go before he's exonerated.

James Curtis Giles is a busy bail bondsman in Lufkin. He helps other people get out of jail because he believes everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It's a rule he's lived by since being wrongfully convicted almost 25 years ago.

"You have people that have been in the system a long time and they don't see innocent people coming into that system - everybody [that] comes in there, they feel is guilty. And being in anywhere with a rape case whether, it's minors [or] adults whatever, you're still the scum of the jail system."

Giles said he feels like more of a prisoner now than he did when he was locked up. Until he is completely exonerated and pardoned by Governor Perry, he will be on parole and have to carry a sex offender registration card with him wherever he goes.

"I hadn't been free since I left the prison in 1993," said Giles. "I've been incarcerated worse than being incarcerated because if you got people to tell you they're watching you, that's humiliating."

Giles' case is getting nationwide attention. He is the 13th person from Dallas County to be cleared of a crime by DNA testing. Giles is among several exonerees supporting legislative bills that could help improve the state's criminal justice system.

The man authorities now believe was involved in the gang rape, James Earl Giles, died in prison in 2000 while serving time for another conviction.

James Curtis Giles and his wife own and operate a bail bond business and an income tax filing firm in Lufkin. He has never met or spoken to the rape victim who misidentified him as her attacker.

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