Dennis Maher was convicted in two separate trials of attacks on three women. In March 1984, he was found guilty of the rape and assault of two women in Lowell on consecutive evenings in November 1983. In April 1984, he was convicted of the August 1983 rape of another woman in Ayer. After the second trial, Maher was sentenced to life in prison. Under Massachusetts law in effect at the time of his convictions, he was also civilly committed to Bridgewater Treatment Center.
Maher, a U.S. Army sergeant at the time of his arrest, always asserted his innocence and wrote to The Innocence Project for help. The Innocence Project tried repeatedly to gain access to the biological evidence collected from the victims, but was told that the evidence couldn’t be found. In 2001, NEIP located long-misplaced evidence from the Lowell trial in the basement of the Middlesex Superior Court. In December 2002, DNA test results excluded Dennis Maher as the source of semen on the evidence. After Maher was excluded as the source of semen in the Lowell case, in February 2003, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office located a slide prepared from the rape kit of the Ayer rape victim at the Ayer Police station. This slide was submitted for DNA testing and Maher was again excluded as the source of semen. With the assistance of NEIP network attorneys and the Innocence Project of New York, Dennis Maher was exonerated in April 2003, after 19 years in prison. Today, Maher is married with two children. He lives in Tewksbury and frequently does speaking engagements around New England to promote awareness about wrongful convictions.
Listen to Dennis Maher’s story in his own words: