Law: Why It's Tough to Take It Back

A singular rape case raises a ruckus about recantations

Newspapers throughout the country recorded incredulity at a seemingly classic case of injustice. Tens of thousands of Illinois citizens signed protest petitions and inundated Governor James Thompson's office with phone calls, telegrams and letters. How, everyone wondered, could Cook County Judge Richard Samuels have done it? The judge, after allowing Convicted Rapist Gary Dotson a few days of freedom on bail, had then sent him back to prison, despite the fact that his supposed victim, Cathleen Crowell Webb, had retracted her accusation. But while most members of the legal community shared the public discomfort with the outcome of Dotson's case, they...

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