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A state appellate court Tuesday overturned the conviction of a Columbia University graduate student imprisoned for the kidnapping and sexual torture of a college student he met on the Internet.

The Appellate Division, First Department, ruled that Oliver Jovanovic should have been allowed to show a jury online conversations and e-mail in which the woman he is accused of attacking indicated an interest in participating in sadomasochism.

Jovanovic, 32, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after he was convicted in 1998 of kidnapping, sodomy, sex abuse and assault charges for luring a Barnard College sophomore to his Washington Heights apartment on Nov. 22, 1996.

Prosecutors said he kept her there for some 20 hours as he tied her to a futon frame, dripped hot candle wax on her, bit her and used a nightstick to beat and sexually abuse her. Jovanovic maintained his innocence even after his conviction, claiming the woman "came to my apartment of her own free will and she left when she wanted to."

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