Charges were tossed out midtrial Thursday against three of the four defendants in an alleged 2006 Lincoln University gang-rape over allegations prosecutors mishandled evidence.
Chester County Judge Howard F. Riley Jr. declared a mistrial without comment and barred prosecutors from filing new charges, less than a week after one defendant was found guilty - in a separate trial before Riley - of raping an intoxicated woman in a dorm room.
Defense attorneys had alleged that Assistant District Attorney Bonnie Lorraine Cox-Shaw withheld information, including the woman's criminal history, a statement her friend gave detectives, and the fact that prosecutors had to arrest her to bring her to court to testify.
"We're outraged at the district attorney's conduct of putting her finger on the scale and using that power to try to convict innocent men and send them to jail for a long time," said Mary Maran, attorney for Eric Goodwin, one of the three men whose charges were thrown out.
Cox-Shaw and District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll could not be reached for comment.
Antonio Forbes, 23, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., was convicted last Friday.
Also charged with raping the woman in McRary Hall Nov. 18, 2006, besides Goodwin, 22, of Yeadon, were Stephen "Cali" Jefferson, 22, of Stockton, Calif., and Terrell McDonald, 22, of Coatesville. All four were freshmen at the time.
In a criminal complaint, the woman is quoted as telling police that she had been drinking with Goodwin and Jefferson before she went to sleep and remembered people entering and leaving the room. The complaint quotes Goodwin as saying that the woman was "intoxicated and incoherent" and that they had sex. It quotes Forbes as saying that the woman was "passed out and unconscious" and that he observed Jefferson and McDonald having sex with her.
Court records show that a jury convicted Forbes on three felony counts and one misdemeanor. His attorney, James Allen McMullen, could not be reached for comment.
Maran and Daniel McGarrigle, the attorney for McDonald, said the information about the woman's having been arrested to bring her in as a witness had come to light after Forbes' conviction.
Attorneys for the three remaining defendants requested the mistrial Thursday after learning of the additional information that had not been shared.
"I think it has to be concerning to all the residents of Chester County that a case of this magnitude and this significant was prosecuted with, at least, gross oversight," McGarrigle said. "It's my belief that all four of these individuals were innocent and this was a rush to prosecute them from the beginning."
McGarrigle and Maran said Forbes' conviction could be thrown out over the allegations of concealed evidence.