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A local man who spent 34 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit has filed a civil rights suit

INDIANA COUNTY, Pa. — In 1982, Lewis Fogle was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old Indiana County girl and sentenced to life in prison.

He’d spend 34 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him, leading to his release in 2015.

But Fogle told Channel 11 his life has been robbed from him and he’s living in his own personal hell.

“Most of the time I just feel like I’m back in prison. Life is not my own,” Fogle said. “I try to get a job, try to find housing and I’m turned down every time. Even my right of being a father were taken from me.”

When Fogle was wrongfully convicted in the rape and murder of Kathy Long, he was a newlywed. His son was only 7 months old.

“I had what I wanted in life and in a snap of the fingers, it was all gone,” he said. “A lot of them I tried writing to and just never heard back from them. The law said I did it so I had to have done it.”

Fogle told Channel 11 there were failures at every step that led to his fate.

There was no evidence against him when he went on trial at the Indiana County Courthouse in 1982.

The prosecution’s case relied solely on testimony from inmates and a man who had been hypnotized after being in a psychiatric hospital.

Now, Fogle is suing 17 people associated with his case, alleging his civil rights were violated.

“They’ll falsify evidence, witnesses, change the events of the crime, even pay witnesses to lie just to rest a conviction,” Fogle said. “I think the criminal justice system is broken and it needs to be redone.”

It wasn’t until decades later that Fogle, with the help of the Innocence Project, found DNA nobody knew about: the evidence that exonerated him.

“There were times I didn’t think I was going to survive.  I thought about ending it. One thing kept me from it. If I ended it, they would’ve won,” he said.

Fogle is thinking about taking the bar exam and becoming a lawyer, to help other people with nowhere else to turn. He’s even helped several other people overturn convictions.

Channel 11 contacted the Indiana County District Attorney’s Office, Indiana County and Pennsylvania State Police, all of which are named in Fogle’s lawsuit.

The Indiana County District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania State Police both said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Kathy Long’s killer has never been found.