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US court allows police torture case to proceed for man who says he was forced to confess
CHICAGO (AP) ' An inmate who says Chicago police officers tortured him into confessing to a brutal rape can present evidence of coercion that was denied at trial, the Illinois Supreme Court decided Thursday, in a ruling that could affect as many as 20 other inmates seeking similar appeals.
Stanley Wrice, 57, is among dozens of men ' almost all of them black ' who have claimed since the 1970s that former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge and his officers used torture to secure confessions in crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder. Allegations persisted until the 1990s.
Allegations of abuse and torture have plagued the police department in the third-largest U.S. city for decades and were a factor in former Illinois Gov. George Ryan's decision to institute a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000. Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty last year.
While several men with torture claims have been released, Wrice's case could have far-reaching impact on how Illinois deals with such cases in the future. Wrice, who is serving a 100-year sentence, insists he's innocent.
An appeals court had sided with Wrice, ruling that he should be granted a new hearing on his claim that Burge's officers used a flashlight and rubber hose to beat him in the face and groin until he confessed to a 1982 sexual assault at his home. Prosecutors asked the state Supreme Court to overturn that ruling.
Burge is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence in federal prison following his conviction last year of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil suit when he said he'd never witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects.