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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Cathleen Crowell Webb, first DNA exoneration case accuser, dies of cancer

    We all take for granted how much DNA has revolutionized law enforcement. I don't know how many people remember this case, but it was the very first exoneration through DNA. Cathleen Crowell Webb recanted her rape & kidnapping accusation against Gary Dotson after he had spent years in prison. No one believed her when she said it didn't happen. What saved Dotson was her panties were kept in evidence all those years. I remember being so shocked when he was finally exonerated through DNA.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6000708.story

    Cathleen Crowell Webb, a former south suburban woman who in the mid-1980s recanted a rape allegation that sent Gary Dotson to prison for eight years, died of breast cancer at her home in Harrisville, N.H., her husband confirmed Tuesday.

    "Her faith is what got her through a 6-year battle with cancer," David Webb said. "The issue with Gary was more painful for her, I believe, because she didn't know what would happen to him after she came forward and tried to make things right."

    Webb said his wife, 46, a receptionist at a local religious school, died in her sleep May 15. She died knowing she had done the right thing for Dotson, he added, even though coming forward took six "grueling years of her life."
    .....................

  2. #2
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Dotson

    Gary Dotson is an American man who was the first person in the world to be exonerated of a criminal conviction by DNA evidence. In May 1979, he was found guilty and sentenced to 25 to 50 years' imprisonment for rape, and another 25 to 50 years for aggravated kidnapping, the terms to be served concurrently. This conviction was upheld by the appellate court in 1981. In 1985, the accusing witness recanted her testimony, which had been the main evidence against Dotson. He was not exonerated or pardoned at that time but, due to popular belief that he was a victim of a false rape accusation, Dotson went through a series of paroles and re-incarcerations until DNA evidence proved his innocence in 1988. Dotson was subsequently cleared of his conviction.

    ......

    On August 15, 1988, the governor and prosecutors were notified that DNA testing had positively excluded Dotson and positively included Crowell's then-boyfriend, David Bierne, as the source of the semen stain. It was August 14, 1989, before a judge and the prosecutors joined in dismissing the original conviction and dropping any charges. Dotson had been released the previous year when his six-month technical parole violation had been served.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by golfmom View Post
    We all take for granted how much DNA has revolutionized law enforcement. I don't know how many people remember this case, but it was the very first exoneration through DNA. Cathleen Crowell Webb recanted her rape & kidnapping accusation against Gary Dotson after he had spent years in prison. No one believed her when she said it didn't happen. What saved Dotson was her panties were kept in evidence all those years. I remember being so shocked when he was finally exonerated through DNA.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,6000708.story

    Cathleen Crowell Webb, a former south suburban woman who in the mid-1980s recanted a rape allegation that sent Gary Dotson to prison for eight years, died of breast cancer at her home in Harrisville, N.H., her husband confirmed Tuesday.

    "Her faith is what got her through a 6-year battle with cancer," David Webb said. "The issue with Gary was more painful for her, I believe, because she didn't know what would happen to him after she came forward and tried to make things right."

    Webb said his wife, 46, a receptionist at a local religious school, died in her sleep May 15. She died knowing she had done the right thing for Dotson, he added, even though coming forward took six "grueling years of her life.".....................
    Great quote from the clueless twit hubby who still doesn't get that his wife brought great shame and hardship to another human being and stole six years of his life. Read more about this, and this women is the criminal, not Dotson. Gotta love the part about "making it right".
    C6
    Last edited by crypto6; 05-20-2008 at 09:12 PM. Reason: more reading

  4. #4
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    Ahhhh.... Crypto - my thoughts exactly!

    Salem

  5. #5
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    Hmm well I don't know what to think of this! How did she end up with her initial testimony? Did she outright lie or was it a case of thinking she recognized him in a line up or whatever? Seems to me she knew he didn't do it and still pointed to him as the rapist. I'm sorry but if that is the case, I second what Crypto said! ETA it doesn't sound like she ever even *was* raped.
    Last edited by JanetElaine; 05-20-2008 at 10:23 PM. Reason: addition

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanetElaine View Post
    Hmm well I don't know what to think of this! How did she end up with her initial testimony? Did she outright lie or was it a case of thinking she recognized him in a line up or whatever? Seems to me she knew he didn't do it and still pointed to him as the rapist. I'm sorry but if that is the case, I second what Crypto said! ETA it doesn't sound like she ever even *was* raped.
    The Chicagotrib article here alludes to her lying outright:

    But the events that transpired after she admitted lying about being raped in 1977, when she was 16, remain an important part of Chicago history.

    Dotson, then an unemployed 20-year-old high school dropout, went to trial in 1979. He was convicted by a jury that deliberated for 96 minutes and sentenced him to 25 to 50 years.

    In 1985, Mrs. Webb told police she lied to cover up a possible pregnancy after consensual sex with her boyfriend.


    However, that article is so disjointed that I'm off to get some more info from other sources.

    C6

  7. #7
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    Thanks Crypto! I'd sure like to know more about this now. I can't go looking myself though as my husband announced he was going on the computer after he's done taking his shower. Yes, sir.

  8. #8
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    Personally I have nothing but praise for Cathleen Crowell Webb. She did a terrible thing to Gary Dotson. But she stood up, told the truth and took responsibility for her actions and NO ONE believed her. So she spent years fighting back to ensure justice for Gary Dotson. A lot of folks wouldn't have even bothered to step forward and say ... "I did this terrible thing." A lot of folks would have given up and said "I did the best I could." She didn't. She made a horrible mistake that destroyed a man's life and did everything possible to right that wrong.

    Unfortunately for him, it was too late.

  9. #9
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    That's true too. She tried to set straight what she apparently f'ed up when she was still a teen. I still wish I knew more though (that is not a hint Crypto, I promise, lol. Hubby is at work so I have free reign of the 'puter now ).

  10. #10
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    I wish I could explain how extraordinary this case was. DNA analysis was still relatively new and had NEVER before been used in an exoneration. It was positively shocking. Now we don't think twice about DNA, but then . . . it revolutionized the entire legal community and this was the case that kicked it off.


  11. #11
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    The $17K in proceeds from her book she gave to Dotson wasn't nearly enough to compensate for 8 years in prison. I hope he sued her for millions and they reached some sort of settlement for a larger amount. It was noted that she gave him the $17K after tithing to her church. The heck with the church. The church deserves none of the money. She should have given him all the proceeds immediately, and she should have tithed a certain amount to him for the rest of her miserable life, since she didn't have the deep pockets or an insurance policy to pay him the millions that she owed him.

    Also, another injustice about this case - Peggy Frossard, one of the prosecutors in the original case, who steadfastly fought Dotson's exoneration, even after the DNA and Crowell's recantation proved him innocent beyond a doubt, is now an Illinois Appellate Court judge.

    J. Scott Arthur, the other prosecutor, is now an attorney in private practice. He was cited prominently in the Chicago Tribune's 2001 series on prosecutorial misconduct. He and his prosecutor buddies in the Markham Courthouse were noteworthy for railroading defendants who were not guilty by forcing plea bargains with threats, and playing all sorts of dirty tricks with evidence during trials. And, of course, they couldn't have accomplished any of that without the indulgence of thestellar, easily corruptable, unqualified Cook County judges.

    This case is one of the worst examples of gender discrimination that happens all too frequently in our third world criminal so-called justice system.

    A woman can always do this to a man and law enforcement will believe her. A man could never do this to a woman and get away with it, unless there was a DA like Nifong to screw up the case beyond belief.

    But it always turns out like this. Webb said she was raped, but actually wasn't. Dotson was the one who got screwed.

    And Puuuuhleeese everybody - don't tell me I need an anger management class. I don't. But yes, I am angry about this case. I have always been angry about this case, and just bringing it up again brings my anger boiling to the surface.

    What Webb did is inexcusable, indefensible and irredeemable. All she did was make herself feel better, and she speeded up Dotson's exoneration by a few years.

    As DNA technology advanced, Dotson's case would have been picked up by the Innocence Project or the Center on Wrongful Convictions and he would have been exonerated by the DNA evidence anyway. He was convicted in 1979. She came forward in 1985. It took two more years until he was released in 1987, and he wasn't pardoned until 15 years later in 2002 by Gov. George Ryan. And until you're pardoned, your still an ex-con and face all of the hurdles such as getting a job, driver's license, the right to vote, etc.

    So let's not throw too many bouquets at Webb. She deserved far more suffering than she ever claimed to have, if any. May her soul rot in the fire pits down below. And I hope Frossard and Arthur join her there some day.

  12. #12
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    The truth is that his entire life rode on a pair of soiled panties. Thank goodness they had been saved in evidence. We all know how easy it is for evidence to get lost or tossed.

    I do believe she deserves some compassion for coming forward. She didn't have to. And, even if the panties were eventually examined, she could have just said, "oops, made a mistake, thought he was the right guy." But, instead she stuck to her guns and wouldn't shut up that he was innocent.

    I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one genecam, but in many ways I think she was just a young teen, who had as much pressure to identify Dotson put on her as many of the false confession cases we discussed. She didn't set out to finger him, but to create an alibi for a consensual relationship. She did in fact risk her own freedom and still stuck to her guns.

    I'll never forget how shocking this case was, but a HUGE part of that shock was the prosecutions refusal to not only accept Webb's confession, but to discount the DNA evidence. DNA was a great weapon for prosecutions to use to incarcerate but, they fought hard to keep that weapon from swinging back around on them.

  13. #13
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    I feel absolutely terrible for him spending time in prison for a crime he did not commit...
    But, I do have sympathy for Cathleen Crowell Webb. She was a 16 year old CHILD when she accused him.. No, it does not excuse it, but she was immature, scared, etc.... Thank God that as she grew older she knew she needed to do the right thing. She could have said nothing. Kept her mouth shut.. But she didn't. She chose to stand up and do the right thing. I also applaud her for giving him money from the book.

  14. #14
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    What about the guy that really had sex with her?

    Inexcuable, indefensible, irredeemable - I think I forgot to add unforgiveable to the list about Webb.

    But one thing that's always perplexed me about this case is - what about the guy that really had sex with her that time?

    He knew Webb had claimed she was raped. He knew she wasn't raped, because he knew (one would think!) that he had consensual sex with her.

    And, worst of all, he knew she had fingered Dotson in the lineup and that Dotson was convicted and spent 8 years in prison wrongfully.

    This guy could have stepped up to the plate and set this thing right just as easily as Webb. In fact, even easier, before Dotson or anyone else was ever arrested. Yet he never came forward. Just crawled into a hole and let Dotson rot in prison. IMHO, he is just as culpable as Webb, and he never even made the weak and belated effort to correct things like Webb did. He and Webb both should have been convicted of something and spent some serious time in prison.

    Does anyone know who this guy is? I am not certain, but I don't think it was David Webb, the guy who later became her husband. But it might have been. My memory on that point is very fuzzy after 23 years, but somehow the first name of James sticks in my mind. And was his DNA ever matched to the evidence on the infamous panties?

    Golfmom, maybe you could do one of your super-google searches on this.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lisag View Post
    I feel absolutely terrible for him spending time in prison for a crime he did not commit...
    But, I do have sympathy for Cathleen Crowell Webb. She was a 16 year old CHILD when she accused him.. No, it does not excuse it, but she was immature, scared, etc.... Thank God that as she grew older she knew she needed to do the right thing. She could have said nothing. Kept her mouth shut.. But she didn't. She chose to stand up and do the right thing. I also applaud her for giving him money from the book.
    The right thing would have been not to pick someone from a lineup.
    She should have given him every dime from the book. I am not applauding this women.

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