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Innocent Buffalonian is second to be set free DA says girl admits rape tale was lie

Angelo P. Stallings on Tuesday became the second Buffalo man in the last week to be released from jail after the district attorney advised a judge that authorities had arrested and prosecuted him for a sex crime he did not commit.

Unlike Anthony Capozzi, who spent 22 years behind bars before being cleared, the Brooklyn-born Stallings was in prison a little more than seven months before District Attorney Frank J. Clark sought his release.

Also unlike Capozzi, Stallings was freed after his accuser recanted, not because of DNA evidence.

Prosecutor Michael McCabe advised State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia that the now-13-year-old East Side girl who told police last spring that Stallings had raped her in her home April 30 "recanted fully and completely."

McCabe told the judge that he had interviewed the girl three times over the past week and that she finally admitted she had falsely accused Stallings -- who once had a relationship with the girl's mother -- because she "doesn't like him."

Stallings, 45, of Amherst Street, declined to comment after his court-ordered release from the Erie County Holding Center, where he had been jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Robert N. Convissar, Stallings' attorney, praised Clark's decision not to force his client to prove his innocence at a jury trial, "which we were fully prepared to do."

The defense attorney said he appreciates Clark's publicly acknowledging "how terrible it is to convict an innocent man of a crime."

Stallings, based on the girl's claims to police and a grand jury, was indicted on single counts of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse and child endangerment. He had faced a prison term of up to 25 years if convicted.

After Tuesday's court proceeding, John J. DeFranks, first deputy district attorney, said the girl does not face criminal prosecution because of the vagaries of New York State laws dealing with young offenders.

Under the State Penal Law, people ages 13, 14 and 15 can only be charged "with serious violent offenses." He said perjury -- the only charge possible against Stallings' accuser -- "is not one of the enumerated crimes which would have qualified her for prosecution."

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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