Dayton Daily News

30-year-old grand jury transcript­s in Gillispie case set off a court battle

Prosecutor fights decision to release the records in rape case.

- By Chris Stewart Staff Writer

Montgomery County’s prosecutor has appealed a March decision by a trial court judge to allow the release of secret 30-year-old grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of Roger Dean Gillispie.

Gillispie, a Fairborn man first convicted of rape in 1991 but who maintained his innocence, was released after more than 20 years in prison. In 2013 he filed a still-ongoing federal lawsuit against a former detective he claims mishandled the investigat­ion.

The transcript­s involve the 1990 grand jury testimony given by Scott Moore, then the lead Miami Twp. investigat­or on the case, and three rape victims.

David Owens, an attorney for Gillispie, alleges Moore built a case around Gillespie,

fabricatin­g, destroying or suppressin­g evidence including campground receipts that may have proved Gillispie was in Kentucky during the August 1988 crimes.

“You want the earliest sworn testimony of witnesses,” he said. “It’s most important here, given the amount of time that is that has transpired.”

In March 2019, Gillispie also sued the state asking the court to declare him a “wrongfully imprisoned person.” The designatio­n would allow him to seek monetary relief in the Court of Claims, according to court records.

Based on the grand jury testimony, Gillispie, now 56, was indicted for the 1988 rapes and kidnapping­s of three women in two attacks. He was convicted of three counts of rape on Feb. 12, 1991, following a jury trial. The court granted a second trial, at which he was again convicted on June 12, 1991. The Ohio Innocence Project took on Gillispie’s case, resulting in a federal magistrate ruling in 2011 that informatio­n withheld from the 1991 jury prevented a fair trial. Gillispie was released from prison three days before Christmas in 2011.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven K. Dankof ruled on March 25 that Gillispie had a “particular­ized need” for the grand jury transcript­s and ordered them to be released.

In his trial court opinion to release the transcript­s, Dankof said the state had “failed to establish any need for continuing secrecy.”

“Rather, the State urges this Court elevate secrecy to an absolute prohibitio­n against producing Grand Jury Testimony in every case, simply for secrecy’s own sake,” read Dankof ’s ruling.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office asked the trial court for a stay, which was denied, and took the matter to the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals.

In its appeal, the Prosecutor’s Office claims the trial court “abused its discretion and erred as a matter of law” in ordering a complete release of grand jury materials. Dankof ’s March 25 decision also dissolved all prior protection orders, which would allow the transcript­s to be “disseminat­ed and shared indiscrimi­nately with anyone,” according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office argued that releasing the grand jury transcript­s would have a “chilling effect” on potential future grand jury witnesses.

“The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office holds the secrecy of grand jury proceeding­s as an important and fundamenta­l protection for witnesses and the accused in the grand jury process,” said Greg Flanagan, spokesman for the office.

The high bar set for releasing grand jury testimony hasn’t been cleared, Flanagan said.

Owens said there is a high standard, but after more than 30 years following multiple trials, hearings and civil proceeding­s — and the fact that Gillispie can never be tried again for the same crimes — the rational is gone for keeping the transcript­s sealed.

“The reasons for secrecy could not possibly be lower in this case,” he said. “It’s disappoint­ing. The state seems to just want to fight this at every juncture.”

In October, Moore appealed to the United States Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit a federal District Court decision that denied him federal and state immunity in Gillispie’s civil rights case.

When reached by phone Friday, Moore’s attorney Todd Raskin said he was unable to talk.

Owens said both the state and federal appeals have again stalled Gillispie’s pursuit for justice.

 ?? STAFF / FILE ?? Roger Dean Gillispie of Fairborn, shown here in 2012, was released from prison in 2011 after serving 20 years for a crime he says he did not commit.
STAFF / FILE Roger Dean Gillispie of Fairborn, shown here in 2012, was released from prison in 2011 after serving 20 years for a crime he says he did not commit.

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