A homeless, schizophrenic man convicted in 2002 of raping a woman in Chicago’s Daley Center will finally go free 11 years later. Authorities reviewed the case and decided that his alleged victim lied in hopes of suing Cook County to cover gambling and tax debts.
Carl Chatman, now 58, was convicted on the testimony of a Daley Center employee who said that he raped her early in the morning in a 21st floor courtroom, after sleeping all night in a building lavatory.
Chatman’s attorney, Russell Ainsworth, thought there was something fishy in the woman’s tale. For one thing, Chatman, (pictured as he appears today) was not in the sort of condition at the time that would enable him to easily evade building security or other personnel.
“He smelled. He smelled terribly," Ainsworth told the Chicago Tribune, "And nobody noticed him. He's supposed to be there all night, and none of the guards or the janitorial staff ever noticed him."
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez led an investigation of the case by her office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which is set up to uncover and correct wrongful convictions.
It took a jury just 30 minutes to convict Chatman, who is African-American. He has a below-average IQ in addition to schizophrenia. But when Alvarez’s investigators re-examined the case, they came to doubt that the purported victim had been sexually assaulted at all.
A sheriff’s report of the incident, which was not given to prosecutors at the the time of Chatman’s trial, showed that a deputy was asleep in the room next door to the courtroom where the rape was supposedly happening. He did not stir even though the alleged victim said that she screamed and fought noisily with Chatman who brandished a pair of scissors at her before raping her.
Also, there was no physical evidence linking Chatman to the crime. The woman, whose name has not been published, claimed she bit the homeless man’s Chicago Blackhawks jacket, but none of her DNA was recovered from the garment, nor were any hair samples that matched hers.
Ainsworth found that the woman, now 62, was facing tax troubles and had lost thousands of dollars at casinos. She sued the county building commission and the security company it hired to guard the Daley Center and settled the case for a figure reported to be in six figures.
Investigators also discovered that the woman had made an almost identical accusation against a man three years earlier.
The woman’s husband maintains that she was in fact raped both times.