Man cleared of rape settles with Warren for $1.5M

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A man who served 13 years in prison for rape based on faulty bite-mark evidence has settled a lawsuit against a Detroit-area suburb for $1.5 million, according to his attorney.

The deal between Michael Cristini and the city of Warren was struck less than two weeks before trial in Detroit federal court, attorney Michael Dezsi told The Associated Press.

Cristini “was ready to put this behind him, and he believed this was a fair amount. This was a nightmare that happened more than 20 years ago,” Dezsi said, referring to the initial criminal case. “It ruined his life.”

In 1991, Cristini and Jeffrey Moldowan were convicted of abducting Moldowan’s former girlfriend, raping her and dumping her on a street in Detroit.

The evidence included testimony from experts who linked the men’s teeth to bite marks on the woman.

Cristini was sentenced to at least 50 years in prison.

But Moldowan’s conviction was thrown out in 2002 by the state Supreme Court after bite-mark evidence was discredited and testimony was recanted.

Cristini’s conviction was thrown out by a Macomb County judge in 2003. Both men were put on trial again separately and acquitted.

They filed lawsuits against Warren, the county and a dentist claiming their civil rights were violated by a bungled police investigation. Cristini insisted he was delivering pizzas on the night of the alleged attack.

A message seeking comment on the settlement was left with Warren Mayor Jim Fouts. Dezsi said Cristini earlier made smaller settlements with the county and Dr. Alan Warnick.

Moldowan in 2011 settled his lawsuit with Warren for $2.8 million. He also reached deals with the county and Warnick.

The woman who accused Moldowan and Cristini of rape was also sued, but a federal appeals court in 2009 said she could not be pursued.

Her statements were “critical” in the decision to file charges but “were only part of a broader, independent investigation,” the court said.