Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of JOSEPH GIARDALA, 44, following a recent DNA cold case hit, for raping a 25-year-old woman in the West Village in January 1995. GIARDALA is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Rape, Attempted Rape, and Robbery in the First Degrees, among other charges.
“If New York City had not taken the initiative to tackle its rape kit backlog more than a decade ago, this victim’s kit may never have been tested, and this defendant never apprehended,” said District Attorney Vance. “Appropriately, the prosecutor handling this case is the very same person who indicted the defendant’s ‘John Doe’ DNA profile in 2003, a groundbreaking strategy at a time when New York State still had a statute of limitations on high-level felony sex crimes, including Rape in the First Degree.
“As this case demonstrates, DNA evidence solves crimes across state lines and across decades. That is why my Office has committed $35 million to eliminating backlogs of untested rape kits across the country. We are urging any jurisdiction with untested rape kits to apply for funding by June 1, 2015.”
According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, GIARDALA is charged with attacking a 25-year-old woman shortly after midnight on January 23, 1995, as she walked home from a movie theater in the West Village. GIARDALA allegedly forced the victim into the vestibule of a nearby building, and then robbed and raped her at knifepoint. The victim immediately went to St. Vincent’s Hospital following the attack, where the elements of a sexual assault evidence kit, or “rape kit,” were collected. That kit remained untested until the launch of New York City’s Rape Kit Backlog project in 2000, through which more than 17,000 previously untested rape kits were tested and analyzed for DNA evidence.
A DNA profile developed from the victim’s rape kit was uploaded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) in 2001, but did not immediately match a preexisting DNA profile. The District Attorney’s Office presented the criminal case to a New York Supreme Court Grand Jury in 2003, obtaining a “John Doe” indictment listing the perpetrator by his DNA profile. Earlier this year in an unrelated matter, GIARDALA’s DNA profile was entered into CODIS in Florida, and matched the DNA profile listed on the “John Doe” indictment.
Rape Kits and John Doe Indictments in New York City
Between 2000 and 2003, New York City sent out approximately 17,000 rape kits for testing, creating a model for other large cities to test their own backlogged rape kits. In Manhattan alone, more than 3,700 untested rape kits were analyzed for DNA evidence, generating more than 1,300 DNA profiles. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office pioneered efforts to indict the unidentified DNA profiles developed from these previously-dormant rape kits as “John Does,” thereby stopping the clock on the statute of limitations. In total, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office filed 49 indictments based on cold case hits from backlogged kits.
District Attorney Vance’s Initiative to Eliminate Rape Kit Backlogs Nationwide
In November, District Attorney Vance announced a $35 million initiative to eliminate backlogs of untested rape kits in jurisdictions across the country. The District Attorney’s Office will award successful applicants up to $2 million for a two-year period to aid jurisdictions in analyzing untested, backlogged rape kits. Representatives of 40 jurisdictions from 26 states submitted Expressions of Interest earlier this year, indicating more than 70,000 untested rape kits within their jurisdictions alone.
Earlier this month, District Attorney Vance released a Request for Proposals soliciting grant applications for the initiative. Completed applications are due by June 1, 2015, at 5 pm EST.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges, Chief of the Forensic Sciences/Cold Case Unit, is handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Shanni Davidowitz and Senior Rackets Investigators Alan Sandomir and Steven Lane assisted with the investigation, as did Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit.
District Attorney Vance thanked the New York Police Department and the United States Marshals for their assistance with the case.
JOSEPH GIARDALA, a/k/a JOSEPH GIARDALAS, D.O.B. 5/15/1970
- Rape in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
- Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
- Sodomy in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
- Attempted Rape in the First Degree, a class C felony, one count
- Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, two count
 The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.