October 3, 1998

Teen-ager cleared of rape count

by Dave Racher

Philadelphia Daily News Staff Writer

The judge told the 16-year-old boy not to be "bitter" about spending the last year in jail for a rape he didn't commit. DNA tests and a videotape of the 17-year-old victim being followed out of a food store by her real attacker on Aug. 1, 1997, helped clear Gregory Wilburn, said defense lawyer Glenn Gilman of the defender Association. Gilman said semen on the girl's panties was tested this week, proving the DNA was not Wilburn's. After the rape, the panties were not tested because someone said that the stain didn't appear to be semen, Gilman said. The attorney also showed the unclear tape to Alan Mann, a University of Pennsylvania Professor of Anthropology, who enhanced it and found differences between the attacker and Wilburn. Yesterday, Assistant District Attorney Richard Downing, convinced of the miscarriage, asked Common Pleas Judge Anthony J. DeFino to drop 13 charges against Wilburn, including rape, involuntary deviate sexual assault and possessing an instrument of a crime. DeFino agreed and said he was thankful that modern technology helped clear Wilburn, of Chew Avenue near Front Street. The judge told Wilburn he was sure the victim did not maliciously accuse him of the attack. He wished the boy good luck. Wilburn had faced trial in adult court. Wilburn's mother, grandmother and other family members broke down in tears and hugged him. Wilburn wasn't arrested until Sept. 30, 1997, after the victim called police and said she had just seen her rapist on the street. After being dragged in an alley and attacked on Palethorp Street near Olney Avenue, she had been told to see her own physician, instead of being taken to a hospital. Gilman said if she had been tested at a hospital, things might have been different, and his client probably "would not have had to lose a year of his life in jail."