The trial has been set for a Williamsburg man accused of a 34-year-old rape that already put one man behind bars for four-and-a-half years.
Biological evidence from a 1978 rape case may be the key to clearing the name of Bennett S. Barbour, a 56-year-old Charles City man, who was convicted of raping a College of William and Mary student three decades ago. The DNA evidence tested in 2010 showed the seminal fluid found on the victim’s underwear did not match Barbour, but instead matched a 56-year-old Williamsburg man, James Moses Glass Jr., whose DNA was on the sex offender registry because he was convicted of a different rape in 1979.
Glass pleaded not guilty in Williamsburg/James City County Circuit Court yesterday to the four charges against him: one count of rape by force, one count of abduction with intent to defile and two counts of firearm use in the commission of a felony. Glass will have a trial by jury beginning Aug. 22.
The rape Glass is accused of took place on Feb. 7, 1978, according to a petition filed by Barbour’s lawyers. A 19-year-old student was returning to her fiancé’s apartment in Williamsburg and, when she opened the door, came face-to-face with a black male pointing a small revolver at her. The man forced her into the apartment and raped her. Barbour was arrested days later after the victim identified him from a mugshot as the attacker.
Matthew Engle, legal director of the Innocence Project Clinic (a University of Virginia clinic where students investigate potential wrongful convictions of incarcerated individuals in Virginia), said in an interview with WYDaily in March that the evidence against Barbour was flimsy. Read more about the writ of innocence Barbour filed with the Attorney General’s Office and the evidence he has to support his innocence, by clicking here.
Barbour was convicted of rape, two counts of breaking and entering and grand larceny for an unrelated event that was tried at the same time. He served four-and-a-half years in prison before being released when he came up for discretionary parole.
When Barbour was informed about the DNA test results Jan. 24, he contacted the Innocence Project Clinic to clear his name. Williamsburg/James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green said Barbour has not been exonerated yet and is unsure where he is in that process.
Glass is currently being held at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail without bond.