GWINNETT: Man spends year in jail for crime he didn’t commit: ‘It destroyed my family’

By: Mike Petchenik

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. – Your freedom can be taken from you in an instant. That’s the message a Gwinnett County man and his attorney have after police arrested him for a crime he said he didn’t commit.

Police arrested Ilya Zaretsky, 45, last September on charges he raped a younger relative.

At the time, investigators claimed he drugged the teen with sleeping pills and had sex with her.

“I was stunned,” the Peachtree Corners man told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik. “I couldn’t believe anything like this could have happened.”

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Mike Petchenik

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TODAY AT 5: The man on the left spent a year in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Why he and his lawyer say shoddy police work led to a miscarriage of justice.

Zaretsky told Petchenik the arrest took a huge toll.

“It destroyed my family,” he said. “I had a career that I built over 17 years and it destroyed my career.”

As Zaretsky sat in jail without bond, his defense attorney, Jay Abt, said he began investigating the allegations and was shocked by what he found.

“This was the detective’s first rape case,” said Abt. “She was very inexperienced.”

Court documents Abt shared with Petchenik show the detective admitted at a preliminary hearing that she hadn’t collected key evidence or spoken to possible witnesses, and that she arrested Zaretsky on the word of the accuser and her mother.

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