Man wrongfully imprisoned for 28 years sues Denver, former DA and several investigators

Clarence Moses-EL says case is about justice

DENVER -- A man who spent 28 years and 5 months in prison for a brutal sex assault that he didn't commit, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City & County of Denver, former District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, and several other people, alleging they violated his civil rights.

Moses-EL, then 32, was arrested August 18, 1987, while giving his young son a ride to the store on a bicycle.

"That was our last ride," said Moses-EL, now 62.

Assault in Five-Points

The victim of the assault had been drinking at a friend's house. She'd apparently consumed five or six Schlitz Malt Liquors Bulls, then got sick and went home.

The perpetrator allegedly entered her house through a window, and viciously assaulted her, sexually and physically.

When asked who did it, the victim initially said, “Darnell, Earl, L.C.,” according to the complaint.

Those men had apparently been at the same party.

She later changed her story, while under the influence of narcotic medication.

“She had a dream in which she relived the incident,” said Eric Klein, Moses-EL’s attorney. “Based on that dream, she woke up and said, ‘I know who did it now.’”

There was no physical evidence linking Moses-EL to the crime. Klein said his client was arrested, charged and convicted based on a dream.

Moses-EL fought for years to get the evidence in the case tested for DNA, collecting money from fellow inmates for the legal battle, which he eventually won, only to find the evidence was thrown out.

“Despite the evidence being labeled ‘Do Not Destroy,’ despite there being an entry in the Denver Police computer system saying to ‘Hold the Evidence,’ the police threw it out,” Klein said.

Like a vice getting tighter

“It was hell,” Moses-EL said of his time in prison. “It was like having my hand closed in a vice daily… turning and turning and the vice got tighter. That’s what prison — and being wrongfully convicted — was all about.”

When asked why the victim said it was him, Moses-EL said he thinks it was because she didn't get along with his then girlfriend. He said the two women argued with each other because their son's didn't get along.

Moses-EL’s longstanding claim of innocence was finally vindicated in 2016, after new evidence was admitted at a second trial.

Another man implicated

Another man, L.C. Jackson, apparently admitted to the crime.

Jackson, who was at the party where the victim was drinking, wrote a letter to Moses-El in April of 2012.

That letter stated: "I really don't know what to say to you, but let's start by bringing what was done in the dark into the light. I have a lot on my heart. I don't know who is working on this, but have them come up and see me. It's time. I'll be waiting."

That was apparently the first of a series of admissions where Jackson implicated himself in the crime, said Moses-EL's other attorney, Gail Johnson.

"The Denver District Court granted a new trial," she said, "but instead of recognizing that this serial rapist (Jackson) was the true perpetrator, DA Morrissey and his employees orchestrated a campaign of misinformation and manufacturing false evidence to cover-up the true facts: that an innocent man had been sent to prison for crimes he did not commit, while the true perpetrator had been left on the streets of Denver to continue to victimize women and girls."

"He confessed," Klein said. "He said he was there at the time that he had sex with the victim and he beat her. He doesn't make a full confession to the savageness of what he did, but that's actually his MO."

The victim initially said the perpetrator had slick, wavy hair. 

Klein said his client didn't/doesn't have slick wavy hair, but Jackson did.

He said that if Denver PD had done their job, they would have learned that Jackson left the party shortly after the victim did, and that he returned just before the neighborhood was alerted to the assault.

Jackson told his girlfriend that he was going to his grandmother's, but he told police that he never left the house, Klein said, "and police never questioned the grandmother."

"L.C. Jackson went out and committed other horrific crimes, and if the police had properly investigated this, and the right man had been prosecuted at the time, other tragedies and other trauma could have been avoided," Klein told Denver7.

Although the DNA evidence was thrown out, Klein said blood serological testing revealed the presence of blood type "O."

"The victim was type 'O,' Klein said, "Mr. Moses-EL is type 'B.'"

He added that even though police used the most sensitive test at the time, no antigens for type 'B' were found.

"DPD had that information but they didn't disclose it to the defense, so the jury was unaware," Klein said.

Life in Prison

Moses-EL said he faced coercion, threats and degradation while in prison and had to fight daily "not physically, but with some kind of creativity, ingenuity, all within the intellect," to survive.

While he was in prison, his parents, two brothers and two sisters died.

"That was something that was very challenging," he said. "I found myself crying."

Moses-EL said he wants to make sure that what happened to him, doesn't happen to anyone else. He said the lawsuit is not all about finances.

"It's about the injustices that were done to me," he said. "If that's not corrected, it's going to happen again, and again, and again. And if it keeps happening, it means somebody is condoning it."

City reaction

A spokeswoman for the Mayor told Denver7, "The City has not been served with a lawsuit on behalf of Clarence Moses-EL. Once we receive the complaint, we will evaluate the claims and respond to them."

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