RAPE CASE DISMISSED (Previously jailed dad cleared from further prosecution)
A Suffolk County man turned from Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael Mullen yesterday, discreetly pumped his fist and walked from the Riverhead courtroom, free at last and free for good from charges that he raped his own daughter 15 years ago when she was just 8. He spent more than a dozen years in prison after a jury convicted him in 1988 of first degree rape and sodomy. He was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 25 years in prison. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the conviction earlier this year, ruling that his defense attorney was so incompetent he didn't get a fair trial. He has been free on bail since March. The Suffolk district attorney's office initially intended to retry the man, but when the alleged victim declined to cooperate, prosecutors had to abandon the case.