By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) - The Waukegan City Council approved this week $65,000 to cover its end of an overall $990,000 civil settlement with a Chicago man wrongfully convicted of a 1986 rape.

Bennie Starks was convicted in 1986 of raping a Waukegan woman and spent 20 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence. He had filed a lawsuit that included the city and three of its former police officers as defendants, The (Waukegan) News-Sun ( ) reports.

John L. Stainthorp, an attorney who represented Starks, said Starks was motivated to settle in part because of a U.S. District Court decision to toss out several of his claims.

“For the 20 years of his life that he lost, this is a very minimal amount,” Stainthorp said Tuesday. “But it was a settlement he wanted to go for. He wanted to put this behind him and move on with his life.”

Starks was released on bail in 2006 after a rape conviction was overturned. Authorities pursued a retrial before remaining charges were dismissed by prosecutors in 2013.

The federal civil-right lawsuits filed by Starks in 2009 also included a crime lab and three forensic specialists as co-defendants. U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman had thrown out claims in July against the forensics experts and parts of ones against the police officers, who were accused by Starks of withholding evidence.

Waukegan’s portion of the settlement is “a very small part” of the total, Stainthorp said. The remaining amount is divided between the crime lab and insurance companies that covered liability for co-defendants, he said.


Information from: Lake County News-Sun,

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