DNA Leads to Man’s Arrest in 1995 Rape

A man is facing rape charges in an attack that happened more than 20 years ago after Manhattan prosecutors said a DNA sample linked him to the crime.

Joseph Giardala pleaded not guilty Friday in state Supreme Court to charges that he attacked a 25-year-old woman after she left a West Village movie theater on Jan. 23, 1995. Prosecutors say Mr. Giardala, now 44 years old, forced the woman into a nearby building’s vestibule and raped and robbed her at knife point.

Mr. Giardala’s attorney, Richard Ma, declined to comment on the case. His client was ordered held without bail; his next court appearance is set for June 4.

Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges said prosecutors identified the suspect through DNA. Immediately after the rape, the woman went to a hospital, where DNA from the attacker was collected as part of a rape-evidence kit, Ms. Mourges said.

The attack was reported to police, but leads were exhausted and the case went cold, she said.

The kit was tested in 2001 as part of an effort to tackle a backlog of rape-kit cases and the data uploaded to the national DNA database, Ms. Mourges said, but no match was found.

Under the statute of limitations, prosecutors had 10 years from the time the crime was committed to file charges. So, in 2003, Ms. Mourges said, the Manhattan district attorney’s office obtained a “John Doe” indictment listing the attacker’s DNA profile in lieu of a name.

Ms. Mourges said the office was informed April 7 that the DNA matched Mr. Giardala, based on a DNA profile that was entered into the national database in Florida earlier this year.

A warrant was issued for Mr. Giardala’s arrest and authorities apprehended him at Los Angeles International Airport last week. He was accompanied to New York by detectives from the Manhattan Special Victims Squad on Thursday night, Ms. Mourges said.

Prosecutors said Friday the arrest stemmed from a project begun in 2000 that led to the testing of 17,000 sexual-assault evidence kits in police storage.

In denying bail for Mr. Giardala, Judge Bonnie Wittner cited his “total lack of ties to New York City and his nomadic existence.”

Mr. Giardala had close to a dozen credit cards and several driver’s licenses from different states when he was arrested, Ms. Mourges said. In the past five months, he had used an electronic benefits card in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Los Angeles, she said.

She said that in the 12 months before April 11, Mr. Giardala purchased more than 200 airline tickets for destinations as far-flung as Moscow; several countries in Europe and South America; and Japan, Hawaii and Guam.

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