Kirk Odom exonerated of guilt in 1981 sexual assault

A 49-year-old man who was convicted of, among other things, raping a young woman in 1981 has been exonerated of the crimes by DNA evidence, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

In September of 1981, Kirk Odom was convicted of multiple charges, including rape, sodomy and robbery, and had spent about 22 years in prison before DNA evidence upheld his claims of innocence.

The crime happened on Feb. 24, 1981 to a woman, who was then in her 20s, while she slept in her Washington home. Police say a man entered her bedroom early that morning and sexually assaulted her.

Odom, now 49, was found guilty based partially on the discovery of a hair found on the victim's nightgown, which was later microscopically matched to his hair. However, DNA testing on that hair and on bodily fluids found on the victim did not come from Odom.

"Though we can never give him back the years that he lost, we can give Mr. Odom back his unfairly tarnished reputation," U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said in a statement. "It is never too late to secure justice."

A search of the DNA profile of the evidence from the assault did turn up a match to another man who had previously been convicted of a separate sex offense. However, at the time of this crime, there was a six-year statute of limitations on serious sex offenses in the District.