Man released after serving 11 years for alleged Daley Center rape files suit over prosecution, imprisonment

By Jonathan Bilyk | May 6, 2014

A Chicago man convicted of raping a clerk at the Daley Center in 2002 is suing the City of Chicago, Cook County, his accuser, and several police officers and prosecutors who worked to put him behind bars for 11 years on a charge that was dropped more than a decade later.

Carl Chatman, who was released from prison last year after the county's top prosecutor determined the alleged victim lacked credibility, filed a lawsuit April 24 in Chicago's federal court over his arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for the alleged rape.

His suit names 11 Chicago police officers, four Cook County sheriff’s deputies, a Cook County assistant state’s attorney and his accuser, as well as Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, both in their official capacities.

The case follows Alvarez's 2013 decision to drop charges against Chatman for the alleged rape, after evidence surfaced that cast doubt over whether the crime ever occurred.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend in 2002, the alleged victim --a then-50-year-old woman working as a clerk for a judge in the Daley Center-- claimed someone matching Chatman’s physical description attacked and sexually assaulted her in a courtroom.

In response to her report, the building was locked down, and a search commenced for her alleged attacker, who she described as a black man with salt-and-pepper hair, wearing a Chicago Blackhawks jacket.

Police eventually found Chatman, a then-homeless Army veteran who matched that description, wandering the streets.

In his recently-filed suit, Chatman, now 59, alleges police held him from 8:30 a.m. to long into the night, and eventually coerced him into signing a document confessing to the alleged rape.

He was then tried and convicted, even though Chatman’s lawyers allege no physical evidence was ever found tying him to the alleged crime, nor did any surveillance footage or witnesses other than the alleged victim place him at the scene.

In 2013, the suit states, evidence surfaced indicating a sheriff’s deputy had been asleep in the room immediately adjacent to the room in which the alleged rape occurred, and that the deputy reported hearing nothing related to the reported attack.

Chatman further alleges that investigating police officers had suppressed that deputy’s statement and withheld it from him and his legal team.

In his suit, Chatman claims the woman concocted the rape accusation as the basis for a lawsuit against a company responsible for security at the Daley Center, allegedly to secure a financial settlement to help ease her financial situation.

She and her husband, according to the suit, were supposedly facing gambling losses and had received notice of an IRS audit shortly before the alleged incident.

Chatman claims she singled him out in the accusation because, as an older, poor vet who deals with mental illness, he made an easy target.

He asserts he encountered the woman the day before she lodged the accusation when he walked into the courtroom of the judge for whom she worked to ask how to file a small claims case.

Chatman also contends that the woman's allegations against him were very similar to those she brought against a Polish immigrant in 1979. After accusing that man of rape, the suit states, she secured a financial settlement from a security company and the man fled to Poland.

In his complaint, Chatman asserts the police officers, prosecutors and his accuser engaged in a conspiracy to maliciously prosecute and imprison him, deprive him of his constitutional rights, and to defame him.

Represented by attorneys Arthur Loevy, Jon Loevy, Russell Ainsworth and Elizabeth Wang of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago, Chatman is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from the defendants.

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