Recent Illinois Exoneree Arrested In Error


More than a month after Carl Chatman’s rape conviction was vacated in Illinois, and he was released from prison, police officers entered his sister’s home and arrested him in error.


STMW- CBS Chicago reported that Chatman was getting ready for church on Sunday morning at his sister’s apartment in Berwyn, when police officers arrived and arrested him for failing to register as a sex offender. The problem is that since Chatman’s conviction was dismissed in September, and the charges were dropped, he is not required to register as a sex offender.


Mayor Robert J. Lovero and Police Cmdr. Joe Santangelo told STMW- CBS Chicago that Chatman’s detention was caused by a records snafu that occurred when officers who were conducting a quarterly check of documentation for local sex offenders found that he was not on the list. Santangelo said, “Officers aren’t able to sort out details on the spot. …Once we can verify through reviewing the paperwork and comparing it with what the computer was telling us….he was released immediately, but we cannot do that on the street.”


Chatman was released within two hours of being placed in a cell, but his sister Theresa said that the whole thing could have been avoided if the officers had read the documents that proved he was cleared of the rape. Instead, she said, “ ‘As soon as I opened the door, they just bust in in their uniforms,’ She said she counted seven officers. ‘I thought it was SWAT.’ When she asked for a warrant, ‘They even told me they would arrest me.’ ”


Chatman’s attorney, Russell Ainsworth asked Santangelo to let his officers know that Carl Chatman is not a registered sex offender. “ ‘If the paperwork states that he’s not in violation, then he definitely is a free man,’ Santangelo said. ‘There’ll be no problems with the Berwyn Police Department.’ ”


Chatman was found guilty of raping a city employee in her office, and in 2004 was sentenced to 30 years behind bars. The case rested on the victim’s identification and a false confession from Chatman, who has mental health issues. Chatman’s dismissal on September 10 came as the result of an in-depth reinvestigation by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’ Conviction Integrity Unit.


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