Rape suspect cleared
Polland, 32, no fixed address, was to be released from the Rock County Jail this morning.
The rapidly evolving investigation has spawned startling developments since Janesville police called a press conference Monday morning to announce Polland’s arrest in what police described as a rare stranger-on-stranger attack.
District Attorney David O’Leary this morning said he ordered Polland released from custody with no charges filed or pending—and therefore no bond conditions—because “this morning I got a call from Chief (Neil) Mahan advising me they are pursuing other leads and he (Polland) is no longer a suspect. …
“He is a free man.”
The Janesville Gazette was not able to reach Janesville police to comment on O’Leary’s statements by deadline this morning. A press release would be forthcoming later in the day, Deputy Chief David Moore said today before O’Leary said Polland was no longer a suspect.
O’Leary said he understood that Polland was initially arrested because two citizen witnesses had identified a jacket left at the scene of the rape of the 14-year-old girl as belonging to Polland.
The girl and her 14-year-old boyfriend were attacked in Monterey Park near Wilson Elementary School on Friday night after the Parker High School game. Their assailant brandished a knife, robbed them both of money, ordered the boy to walk away, then raped the girl, police and O’Leary said.
Polland apparently lied to police when investigators first questioned him, and he was in the vicinity of the attacks Friday night, O’Leary said.
“He also matched some of the physical description of the assailant,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary’s decision to free Polland this morning followed a surprising second press conference called by police Monday afternoon.
In that meeting, Moore said police had asked O’Leary to release Polland but with strict bond conditions.
“Our investigation is continuing. It is a rapidly moving investigation. In the last six hours, new and significant information has come to light,” Moore said Monday at the 4 p.m. press conference.
At that time, Moore said Polland was still a suspect but that police thought it was necessary at that point in the investigation to strike a balance between Polland’s constitutional rights and protecting the community.
“We are charged with looking at exculpatory evidence (which clears a suspect) with just as much energy and deliberation as evidence that proves guilt,” Mahan said after the press conference.
At the afternoon conference, Moore detailed a set of strict bond conditions and said police would keep tabs on Polland around the clock to protect both the community and Polland’s constitutional rights.
In a court hearing Monday afternoon, Polland was ordered freed on a $25,000 personal recognizance bond that included the conditions of remaining in Rock County, appearing at all future court date, electronic monitoring and no contact with the victims or any other juvenile females.
O’Leary’s decision today eliminated any pending charges, the bond and its conditions.
Whether police have another suspect either under investigation or in custody could not be confirmed this morning.
Monday, Moore said investigators still think the story told by the 14-year-olds is true and accurate.
“There is no indication that the crimes did not occur as stated,” the deputy chief said.
Polland was linked to the crime by a distinctive sport-style jacket left at the scene of the sexual assault and residents’ tips that the jacket was his, Moore said at the first press conference Monday.
Police collected potential DNA evidence in the case, and the evidence was to be at the State Crime Laboratory in Madison no later than this morning, Moore said Monday.
Both Janesville police and the DA’s office asked the lab to analyze the evidence and make its report as soon as possible.
O’Leary said he hoped to get preliminary results of DNA analysis no later than Thursday.
Last updated: 9:12 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012