- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Four months after he was released from prison, where he was confined almost 17 years for an attempted rape that he didn’t commit, a state judge has ordered the state to pay Nathan Brown $330,000 - the maximum Louisiana allows from its wrongful conviction compensation fund.

Brown appeared Tuesday before Judge Ray Steib of Jefferson Parish.

“Mr. Brown, I’m sure that the money can’t adequately compensate you for 17 years of your life,” Steib said in wishing him luck.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/YJ59ju) the now-40-year-old Brown spent 16 years, 10 months and 18 days in prison before he was released June 25. DNA test results proved what he’s always insisted: He was not the man who the victim said attacked her outside her Metairie apartments on Aug. 7, 1997.

The victim wasn’t in court and hasn’t been publicly identified.

“She wishes it didn’t take nearly 17 years of his life, and for that she is sorry,” Assistant Attorney General Colin Clark told Steib. “She appreciates it that he does not see this as a hatchet job, that she was not out to get him.”

The woman was attacked in the courtyard of the apartment complex, where both she and Brown lived. The woman escaped and told deputies that the attacker fled.

During the ensuing investigation, a security guard directed sheriff’s deputies to Brown, who’d been questioned previously in Peeping Tom incidents at the complex. Brown was in his apartment, in bed, when deputies arrested him an hour after the attack.

The woman identified Brown as her attacker, both at the scene and during the trial.

Brown denied the accusation, but his alibi, supported by a handful of witnesses, fell on deaf ears.

The jury convicted him of attempted aggravated rape on Nov. 19, 1997. Less than two months later, then-Judge Walter Rothschild sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

The Innocence Project in New York took up the case last year, and asked the court for DNA testing. District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. did not oppose the request, and Steib authorized it.

Some evidence from the attack was still in possession of the clerk of court. Test for genetic material on the dress excluded Brown and matched that of another suspect, who had lived in the area in 1997 and now is imprisoned in Mississippi. Authorities are investigating that man’s links to the attempted rape.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, https://www.nola.com

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