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Former CPD sergeant cleared of rape awarded $4.5 million from accuser

Former Chicago Police Sgt. John Herman enters the courthouse at 26th and California to stand trial on rape charges in December 2007. / Sun-Times file photo

A former Chicago Police sergeant who served nearly four years in prison before he was acquitted of rape has won a $4.5 million judgment in a lawsuit against his accuser — and he’s vowing to recover whatever he can from the woman.

In 2011, John Herman won an appeal of his 2007 conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault and was released from prison.

While he was behind bars, though, the city paid his accuser $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit that she brought.

After he won his freedom, Herman sued the woman. And on Tuesday, Cook County Circuit Judge Gregory Wojkowski awarded him $4.5 million.

Herman said he intends to collect as much as he can from the woman, who now lives in Texas.

“I want the clothes on her back, her kids’ backs and her grandkids’ backs. For what she did to me, I don’t care,” Herman said.

The woman, 51, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Former Chicago Police Sgt. John Herman / arrest photo

Herman, 52, has never denied having sex with the woman, but says she consented to it. During his trial, he said they were “sex friends.”

“It happened more than once,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The woman, an admitted crack addict, said Herman stopped her on the street in 2004 and asked her whether she was a prostitute. When she said she didn’t have an ID, he told her to get in his car, drove her to her home and raped her, she testified.

Herman was a sergeant in the Gresham District on the South Side.

“What I did was stupid. I cheated on my wife, I committed infidelity, and that’s it,” he said.

Herman said he and his wife divorced because of the stress his imprisonment put on their marriage. He said he resigned and cashed out his pension to pay his legal bills.

Now he drives a truck throughout the Midwest to earn a living.

Herman said his time in prison was awful.

“Think of the worst hell you can think of and ten-fold it,” he said.

Herman said he survived in part because he became friends with Harry Aleman, the late Outfit hit man, who was feared in prison.

They were in the state penitentiary together in Downstate Galesburg. Aleman died in prison in 2010.

“We played cards every day,” Herman said.

Now he wants payback for the years he lost behind bars.

“I can’t tell you how much my friends and family suffered,” Herman said.