DNA evidence ties man to 1998 Fort Myers Beach rape

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. A DNA test has provided a new link in a nearly 20-year-old rape case.

Cornelius “Neil” Francis Florman, 51, of Low Moor, Virginia, was identified as a suspect after a DNA sample taken from the woman shortly after the alleged rape was found to be a match with a sample on file for him, according to court documents.

The woman told authorities in 1998 that she was raped after she picked up a man who approached her in a Fort Myers Beach parking lot and asked her for a ride up the street.

The DNA sample from Florman stemmed from a previous rape conviction.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office sent the woman’s sample for analysis in January 2016 after a WINK News investigation into backlogged samples from other rape cases. The results came back in November 2016, and the sheriff’s office notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Florman was ordered on June 20 to submit a new DNA sample, court documents show.

His attorney, Miami-based Mel S. Black, issued the following statement:

“We are aware of the investigation about something that supposedly happened 19 years ago. We do not know if there will be any formal (charges) once the investigation is completed. We are committed to vigorously fight any (charges) and prove Neil’s innocence in a court of law if any changes are filed. Neil is a good man and a loving father. At this time we have no other comment. My habit is to try my cases in Court, not in the media.”

The sheriff’s office declined comment.

WINK News reporter spoke about the importance of closure for rape victims with Eileen Wesley, executive director of Project HELP, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those in crisis.

Lindsey Sablan