$25M lawsuit in rape case settled

HARRISONBURG — A man once convicted of rape has settled a $25 million federal lawsuit that claimed his Fifth and Sixth amendment rights were violated by Waynesboro police officers who did not advise him about his right to remain silent before secretly taping conversations with him while he underwent medical treatment at a local hospital.

In 2003, after a judge allowed a jury to hear the tape, Engra M. Bellamy was convicted in Waynesboro Circuit Court of raping an 18-year-old woman. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but not before lashing out in court at his accuser and Waynesboro police.

"The evidence is going to show that I'm innocent and that you lied!" he said during his formal sentencing in November 2003.

The woman testified she was job-hunting when she first met Bellamy at The News Virginian, where he worked in the circulation department. In August 2002, the woman — who admitted to making a false rape claim as a juvenile — claimed Bellamy raped her at a vacant Winchester Avenue home.

Bellamy claimed the sex was consensual.

Before the trial, but following his arrest, Bellamy was hospitalized after an asthma attack. A female officer from the Waynesboro Police Department was posted at his door, where the two spoke for about four hours. Bellamy was not read his Miranda rights but made incriminating statements, according to court records.

The following night the police officer, Alyssa Campbell Wells, wore a hidden recording device. Again, Bellamy made incriminating statements. Another officer involved in the case, Brent Uzdanovics, testified Bellamy was read his Miranda rights. However, there were no Miranda warnings on the tape, records show.

In 2006, the Virginia Court of Appeals tossed Bellamy's rape conviction and sentence after ruling police failed to read him his rights and also violated his right to an attorney. He eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and battery.

That same year, Bellamy's accuser received 10 days in jail after giving conflicting testimony in an unrelated assault case.

In 2007, Bellamy filed his $25 million civil rights lawsuit.

In a Sept. 12 court filing, United States District Judge Samuel G. Wilson said the case against Wells and Uzdanovics, who has since left the force, had been settled. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

http://www.newsleader.com/article/20110921/NEWS01/109210328

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