South Side man who had rape conviction overturned denied certificate of innocence

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A South Side man who had his rape conviction overturned after it was proven he was forced to confess to the crime by abusive detectives working for now disgraced Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge was denied his “certificate of innocence” Thursday.

Stanley Wrice’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, gasped when Cook County Judge Thomas Byrne issued his ruling and declared that there was “substantial evidence” indicating Wrice “actively participated” in the brutal Sept. 9, 1982 sexual assault.

Wrice said the denial of the certificate — which would expunge his conviction and make him eligible for thousands of dollars from the state — was like a “dagger to his heart.”

But the 60-year-old grandfather, who works for the Chicago Innocence Project, said he would keep forging ahead.

In his 44-page decision, Byrne said the recantation of two witnesses were “threadbare, untimely and untrustworthy.”

Byrne also noted the absurdity of Wrice not noticing that a woman was being tortured, burned and gang raped in his bedroom while he was home.

The circumstantial evidence of Wrice’s guilt is “convincing,” Bryne wrote, pointing to how Wrice was with others when they picked up the victim and later lay her down on his bed.

Bonjean said she was “appalled but not surprised” by the judge’s “political” ruling.

Wrice spent 31 years behind bars until a judge overturned his conviction last year and granted him a new trial.

Judge Richard Walsh had said there were no doubts cops were torturing suspects at Area 2 and medical evidence “confirms” Wrice had been injured.

Wrice’s claims that he was beaten by former detectives John Byrne and Peter Dignan were “unrebutted,” the judge added.

Prosecutors at the time said they would not be retrying Wrice.

Bonjean and law partner Heidi Linn Lambros, who have filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Wrice, said they will eventually appeal Judge Byrne’s decision.

“Releasing him is just the start of making it right,” Bonjean said.

“. . .Judge Byrne should not only have ruled in his favor. He should have issued an apology on behalf of the system to Mr. Wrice and instead, he spit in Mr. Wrice’s face.”

Burge was recently released from a 4 1/2-year prison sentence for perjury in connection with his testimony in a civil case involving allegations that he and his colleagues tortured suspects.

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