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Chicago Man, Stanley Wrice, Awarded $5.2 Million After Spending 31 Years In Jail Under False Conviction

He said he was tortured by police to confess to brutal 1982 crime

A Chicago man was awarded $5.2 million on Tuesday (March 3) after a legal battle that lasted nearly four decades.

Stanley Wrice says he spent 31 years in prison after two police officers beat him into falsely confessing his to taking part in the brutal 1982 gang rape and assault of a woman.

Wrice said Chicago police Sgt. John Byrne and Det. Peter Dignan tortured him into giving an incriminating statement tying him to the assault. Wrice finally got closure at Dirksen Federal Courthouse after the civil trial ended in his favor after a week and a half. 

Jurors awarded him $4 million in damages and then a $600,000 judgment against each officer. Wrice’s lead attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, says the amount awarded “speaks volumes” about whether or not they believe justice was served. 

Kathleen Fieweger, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, later released a statement by email, the Chicago Sun-Times reports

“We believe the award, while significantly less than the plaintiff sought, is nonetheless inconsistent with the jury’s finding that no evidence was fabricated or suppressed,” she wrote. “We are assessing next steps.”

 

The decision of Wrice’s innocence has gone back and forth over the years, as witnesses withdrew testimonies and his “certificate of innocence” being denied. Fieweger explained in another email to the Sun-Times why the city chose to take the case to trial rather than settle in court.

“Each case has its own specific facts, and in the Wrice case, the city believes that he was properly charged and convicted of a particularly abhorrent and gruesome crime, for which he was sentenced to 100 years in prison,” Fieweger wrote. “No court has ever found him innocent and his certificate of innocence was denied.”

Following Tuesday’s verdict, Wrice has expressed his content moving forward.

“It sends a message to Peter Dignan and John Byrne,” Wrice said. “I am so vindicated. I got closure.”

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