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Massachusetts: Wrongful Conviction Suit Settled for $3.25 Million

The City of Boston has agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 18 years for a series of rapes he did not commit.

Ulysses Charles was convicted in 1984 of raping three women at an apartment complex near the General Dynamics shipyard where he worked as a welder building Navy ships.

His convictions and 80-year sentence were overturned in 2001 after DNA evidence revealed that semen found at the crime scene belonged to two other men. Charles’ defense attorneys alleged that police and prosecutors had deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence.

In April 2009, a civil jury found by “clear and convincing” evidence that Charles was innocent of the 1980 rapes and awarded him $500,000 under Massachusetts’ wrongful conviction statute.

Charles had a separate federal civil rights lawsuit pending against the Boston Police Department, though, that sought millions of dollars in damages for police misconduct in connection with his wrongful conviction.

In December 2009, the City of Boston agreed to settle the federal suit for $3.25 million. William Sinnott, counsel for the city, said that lawyers for both parties had “engaged in long and thoughtful deliberations,” and that both sides were “satisfied” with the settlement.

“There are five victims in this case,” said Frank C. Corso, Charles’ attorney. “There are the three women who were raped. There is the man who spent 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And there’s society, which is paying money and not solving a crime.” See: Charles v. City of Boston, U.S.D.C. (D. Mass.), Case No. 1:04-cv-10986-NG.

Additional source: Boston Globe

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Related legal case

Charles v. City of Boston