- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - New DNA evidence points to a White Sulphur Springs man as a possible suspect for the 1987 rape of an 8-year-old Billings girl, a crime for which another man spent 15 years in prison.

Ronald Dwight Tipton, 55, has been ordered to appear in court Dec. 14 to face sexual assault charges, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported (http://bit.ly/1LRPBur).

The new evidence comes 13 years after Jimmy Ray Bromgard was exonerated after spending 15 years in prison for the girl’s rape.

Billings police and prosecutors vowed to reopen the investigation after Bromgard’s release.

Police identified Tipton as a suspect in the case after he agreed to submit to DNA testing in 2014 as part of his suspended sentence in a drug-related case. In 2007, state lawmakers approved a change allowing charges for old sex crimes after receiving a new DNA match.

A man who answered the door at Tipton’s address said Thursday that Tipton didn’t want to discuss the charges.

Bromgard was convicted after prosecutors presented evidence using microscopic hair analysis, a largely discredited technique that has been largely discredited and linked to wrongful convictions nationwide.

He was freed in 2002 after DNA tests on rediscovered evidence found that Bromgard did not match the semen samples taken from the girls’ underwear.

Bromgard later won a $3.5 million settlement in a civil lawsuit against the state.

Tipton’s DNA was tested after his 2013 conviction on a marijuana charge.

The pending charges against Tipton should provide closure for both Bromgard and the victim, Bromgard attorney Ron Waterman said.

“The state came up with any number of justifications as to why it could’ve been Jimmy despite the DNA evidence that he wasn’t responsible for the crime,” Waterman said. “Because of that, there always was that cloud over Jimmy that he had gotten off on some technicality.”

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Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com

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