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Dotson Petitions for Clemency in Rape : Illinois Gov. Thompson Says He and Board Will Act Expeditiously

April 20, 1985|United Press International

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Attorneys for Gary Dotson, who has served six years in prison for a rape the alleged victim now says never happened, filed a petition for executive clemency Friday with the state prisoner review board.

Gov. James R. Thompson said he and the Illinois Prisoner Review Board will begin examining the clemency application immediately.

"If I can come to a decision together with the board simply from reading the transcript of the original trial and Judge (Richard L.) Samuels' hearing, I'll do that, and if it requires an additional hearing, I'll order that," said Thompson, a lawyer and former federal prosecutor.

Holds News Conference

At an impromptu news conference in Chicago, Thompson also said the convicted rapist's guilt or innocence might not be a factor in deciding the case.

"The issue is probably not guilt or innocence, but mercy and the appropriateness of the sentence under all the conditions which exist today. And on that issue, I can hear any kind of evidence," Thompson said.

Samuels last week refused in Cook County Circuit Court to set aside Dotson's 1979 rape conviction, saying he did not believe the recanted testimony of Cathleen Crowell Webb, the woman Dotson allegedly raped.

But the Republican governor said he has made no decision on Dotson's guilt or innocence.

'No Preconceptions'

"I have no preconceptions about this case. I'm not leaning one way or the other and I'll take everything that is given to me into account," Thompson said.

Thompson said also that he will make every effort to decide the case swiftly because "the people of Illinois want, more than anything else, a quick disposition of the Dotson case."

While the case remains undecided, the governor said, the state's judicial system is on trial.

"I don't want any clouds on Illinois justice, so I will take every step in my power to ensure that the Dotson case is decided, decided quickly and decided ultimately by me," Thompson said.

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