The City of Rochester has been ordered to compensate a man wrongfully incarcerated for 6 years on a rape conviction. On August 5, 2016, Judge Michael Telesca of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York directed the City of Rochester to compensate Freddie Peacock $5 million dollars for his loss of liberty and pain and suffering during the incarceration; $750,000 for future nonpecuniary damages and lost wages of over $442,000. Rochester conceded liability and both sides agreed to allow the Court to determine the amount of damages and waived any appeal of the Judge's award.
This case is yet another example of an alleged verbal confession to police which was adamantly denied at trial and on appeal. Mr. Peacock who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, worked as a cook at a building where the rape victim resided. He contacted the Innocence Project in 2002 and in 2008 testing proved that the male DNA evidence in the victim's underwear could not possibly belong to Mr. Peacock.
This award in excess of $1 million per year for each year of imprisonment is considerably higher than most. The reasons include that Mr. Peacock had no criminal record and never served time. Moreover, the Judge emphasized the voluminous evidence which established that Mr. Peacock was a very gentle and peaceful man; that his severe mental illness aggravated the harsh conditions of his confinement. Worse, the Judge noted that Mr. Peacock endured threats and harassment from other inmates requiring protective custody.