by Steve Dunleavy
IN THE case of Oliver Jovanovic, the wheels of justice turned with the speed of molasses -- but yesterday things sped up.
For the last 16 months, I have been wailing like a banshee about the preposterous thought that Jovanovic, 33, was guilty of rape in the so-called cybersex case.
I have been raging against the justice handed out by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau as if he was holding court in the main square of Baghdad.
"Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Can you believe it?" Sabina Jovanovic said when she answered the phone.
"It is so good to realize that finally the system worked," said Sabina, who plays first violin for the New York City Ballet.
Sabina is the mother of Oliver Jovanovic. Together with her family and Oliver's girlfriend Marinza Bruineman, she launched the most massive investigation of facts surrounding a court case since Roe v. Wade.
"I'm ecstatic. Justice is working," she said.
I can understand her ecstasy of knowing that her son will eventually be freed, but when you do 16 months for something that never happened, I would question the definition of justice.
"With the new trial, I don't know what basis of evidence there is, and now all the horrible things they did to Oliver will come out and all the terrible secrets will be revealed," Sabina said.
Some of those secrets:
*Morgenthau's angels, prosecutors Linda Fairstein and Gail Heatherley, did as much homework into this case as I did when I failed math every year up until my last day of school at age 14.
*Judge Willie "Wacko" Wetzel knows as much about criminal law as I do about knitting a sweater.
*The so-called victim, Madam X, had a history of being a flaming neurotic, which not only included larceny and lies, but computer- printed ambitions of wanting to direct a "snuff" film, wherein someone is murdered on screen.
*She stole from her father on a constant basis and once falsely accused her father and uncle of sexually molesting her at the age of 17.
*She encouraged a girl to falsely accuse a boyfriend of a rape that never happened.
*She lied in the entirety of her evidence to the prosecutors, and medical examinations proved that so-called injuries were something out of a fairy tale.
*When she produced her panties to prove assault, a pubic hair found belonged neither to her nor Jovanovic.
Now I got this information in part from a few simple phone calls and to a larger degree from Madam X's grandmother and two aunties who told me about false rape charges and serial theft.
The calls probably took no more than two hours. Did Fairstein and Heatherley talk to the same people I did?
Do prosecutors check out the background of people who claim rape and whether they are credible?
The appeals court, in granting Oliver a new trial, focused on Wetzel's incompetence in handling the basis of New York's rape shield law.
Wetzel ignored and Fairstein and Heatherley ignored or chose to ignore Madam X's mental, emotional and criminal state of mind when they swallowed her story.
Sabina Jovanovic could not be contained.
"You wrote so many stories about this; you had so much to do with this," she told me. "Some reporters come and see and do nothing, some reporters come and see and do something and their editors do nothing. You and your editors had the guts to stand up and tell the truth."
In the name of justice, this case has cost the family well over half a million dollars for the court battle. Oliver's father, Svetorzar Jovanovic, is a director of the Dalton Chess Academy and parents of his students got together a defense fund.
"Those people, I will never forget. But our lifetime savings, including the generosity of Oliver's brother, are gone. But truthfully, who the heck cares about money when you talk about freedom?" said Sabina.
What will Wetzel, Morgenthau, Fairstein and Heatherley do to compensate Oliver's name, not to mention 16 long months in a cell?
He and his family are waiting for an answer.
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