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Wrongfully convicted man files civil suit against CPD detectives

Robert Bouto, with his wife Jessica, is filing a lawsuit against the City of Chicago, Cook County and others. Bouto was wrongly imprisoned for murder in a case involving former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A man exonerated after serving nearly 23 years for a murder he didn’t commit filed a civil suit Thursday against Cook County, the City of Chicago and several former Chicago Police detectives.

Robert Bouto flanked by his attorneys Russell Ainsworth and Ruth Brown, singled out retired Detective Reynaldo Guevara, who has faced other allegations of misconduct.

“[Guevara] took me away when I was 17 years old, he took me into a grown man’s institution,” Bouto said fighting back tears. “At 17 you can’t vote, you can’t join the military, you can’t smoke, you can’t drink … and he took me there in front of grown-a– men to strip search me; humiliated me.”

Ainsworth said they would like to see criminal charges against Guevara and other detectives over alleged intimidation and manipulation of witnesses in Bouto’s case. For now, they are seeking compensation for alleged wrongdoing in the civil suit filed Thursday.

“[Bouto] had to spend 23 years of his life from the age of 17 in prison, branded falsely a murderer for a crime he had nothing to do with,” Ainsworth said.

Police booking photo of Robert Bouto at age 17, left, is displayed next to a current photo of Bouto at Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law offices. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Bouto was convicted in 1993 in the murder of Salvador Ruvalcaba and maintained his innocence while in prison. In April 2018, Cook County prosecutors vacated his conviction.

Ainsworth also said his client recently has received a Certificate of Innocence, clearing the case from his record. Bouto said now he can finally move forward with his life.

“That means when my daughter grows up, I can take her to field trips … it means I can get a better job to support my wife and daughter,” Bouto said. “[The Certificate of Innocence] shows that I was wrongfully convicted.”

The now-retired Guevara served in the Police Department three decades. Allegations of his misconduct have been at the center of 19 exonerated cases he investigated. The latest exoneration happened in January.

Ainsworth said the community has known Guevara and the other detectives named in the lawsuit have “framed … dozens and dozens of young Latino men.”

“The end result is that innocent men were put in prison, real killers were left on the street, the community became less safe,” Ainsworth said.

Ainsworth urged the city and county investigate every case Guevara and the other listed detectives handled  throughout their career to see if more misconduct took place.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.