The woman was overdosing on heroin, and after being revived with Narcan, she told police she last remembered Perrot offering her a powdery substance and encouraging her to snort it, according to a police report cited by the Republican. She said she knew she did not consent to sex.
A spokesperson for the Essex District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Sunday, but an officer at the Middleton House of Correction confirmed to The Washington Post that Perrot is in custody. An attorney for Perrot could not be located, though the Republican reported he pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing in January. An arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
Amid waves of wrongful convictions based on flawed science in an age of evolving DNA technology, Perrot’s case represents an unusual outlier: a defendant returned to jail on the same or similar serious charges but in a separate case, as most famously happened in the case of Steven Avery in the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer.”
Perrot’s arrest comes three years after a judge threw out his conviction in the 1985 rape of an elderly woman, in large part because the FBI had offered seriously flawed analysis of a single microscopic hair found on her bedsheet, leading to his conviction.
The ruling was described at the time by justice groups such as the Innocence Project and other forensics watchdogs as groundbreaking, reportedly among the first cases in which a judge recognized this specific type of hair analysis as junk science while granting a person a new trial. Prosecutors appealed the judge’s ruling, but ultimately dropped the charges in October 2017, ending Perrot’s decades-long legal saga.
“Today’s milestone is a vindication of George Perrot,” Kirsten Mayer, partner at Ropes & Gray LLP who worked with the Innocence Project to help free Perrot, said of the development then. “That our team could secure his release and bring a sense of resolution is humbling.”
The Boston Globe reported that when Perrot was first released from prison in February 2016, he leaped from his chair in court and hugged his mom. “She told me I better not go back in there,” Perrot later said.
Perrot had been accused of breaking into a 78-year-old woman’s home at 4 a.m. and raping her on the floor of her bedroom before stealing her change purse, a crime for which he maintained his innocence from the start, according to court documents. He was convicted of the rape twice, first in 1987 and again after winning a new trial for different reasons in 1992, and was sentenced to life in prison both times.
In the hearing releasing Perrot from prison on bond in 2016, Superior Court Judge Robert J. Kane said he was “reasonably certain that George Perrot did not commit those grave offenses,” the Boston Globe reported.
But following the Republican’s report Friday about the new rape charge, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni appeared to suggest he was guilty all along.
“Originally sentenced to life in prison, for a horrific Springfield rape, which was negated in 2016 by a superior court judge granting a new trial. He just re-offended in Lawrence,” Gulluni wrote on Facebook. He told the Globe that his office never stopped believing that Perrot “committed several heinous offenses on elderly female victims” in the 1980s.
“Regrettably, there is another victim who has now allegedly suffered at his hands, three decades later,” Gulluni said.
At the time Perrot was arrested in 1985, he was 17, with a history of multiple burglary arrests already on his record. Perrot had admitted to some of them and also signed a written statement confessing to breaking into the rape victim’s home, according to Kane’s ruling. But his defense counsel later argued that he was high on drugs and sleep-deprived when he signed the statement, which did not include a confession to the rape. Perrot later said he had no memory admitting to the break-in, asserting it was forged.
The victim in the case also did not identify Perrot as her rapist, saying in court that she was certain the man who raped her looked nothing like Perrot, according to court documents. She had always maintained the rapist was clean-shaven and had short hair. Perrot had a beard and wild curly hair.
“How can I say it was [him] when this man has a mustache and beard?” she said, when asked in court whether Perrot was the perpetrator. “This fellow didn’t have any beard. He didn’t have any mustache.”
She also disputed the prosecution’s physical evidence in the case. In addition to the hair, prosecutors and the FBI also pointed to a blood stain on the bed that had characteristics “consistent with” Perrot’s blood. The victim questioned why, if she was raped on the floor, there would be any blood on her bed — and said the small blood stain was left by her sick uncle 14 or 15 years earlier.
Prosecutors blamed the victim’s failure to identify Perrot on the fact that she was old and perhaps couldn’t remember.
Still, the rape victim’s testimony alone was not enough to reverse a conviction. The new evidence that Perrot needed emerged in 2012, when the FBI began reviewing hair-analysis testimony from its agents in criminal cases spanning decades. Perrot’s case was one of them.
The FBI’s audit found that its experts, including in Perrot’s case, routinely “exceeded the limits of science by overstating the conclusions that may appropriately be drawn from a positive association” between hair found at the scene and taken as a sample from a suspect’s head. The probe ultimately found that nearly every analyst overstated the significance of the evidence in a light favoring prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the cases, calling into question hundreds of cases.
Kane ruled that the FBI analyst who testified for the prosecution in Perrot’s case overstated the evidence as well, pointing to seven errors and seven other problematic statements. In one, he compared his ability to analyze and distinguish people’s hairs to people’s ability to recognize faces in a crowd. He said the hair found on the bed “matched” characteristics of Perrot’s hair, although many people can share the same characteristics of hair.
Vacating Perrot’s conviction, Kane said, was not a “close call.”
At the hearing where he released Perrot from prison, Kane reminded Perrot that prisoners who are released will have to choose the type of path they want to take as they reset their lives, the Globe reported then.
“Ultimately, it will be up to George Perrot,” the judge said.
Perrot filed a federal lawsuit in Boston against the FBI agents who worked on his case, the Springfield police and individual officers and prosecutors involved in the original 1985 investigation, alleging that they violated his civil rights.
Since his Jan. 4 arrest on the new rape charges, his attorneys moved to begin mediation and to work toward a settlement in the case. On Thursday, a federal magistrate reported that those talks have failed. Perrot is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
His attorneys on that civil case did not immediately respond to a request for comment.