Accused of Waukegan Rape; gets an $999,000 settlement

Joshlynn Murphy

Bennie Starks spent 20 years in prison for a rape that was held in Waukegan in 1986, which he did not commit. He got an $999,000 settlement. The City Council approved to give $65,000 payments totaling almost a million dollars.

John L. Stainthorp, a Chicago attorney who represented Starks in a lawsuit against a field of defendants that included the city and three of its former police officers, said Starks was motivated to settle in part by a U.S. District Court decision in July to toss out several of his claims.

“For the 20 years of his life that he lost, this is a very minimal amount,” Stainthorp said on Tuesday. “But it was a settlement he wanted to go for. He wanted to put this behind him and move on with his life.”

Based off the court documents, Starks came to Waukegan police for questioning in January of 1986 and three days later the woman, who was in her late 60s, was beaten and raped by the Waukegan Ravine where Starks coat was found.. The only way they found out that it was not Starks was by the DNA evidence, which did not match his.

Being accused of raping someone is a hard case. Being sentenced for 60 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is even harsher.  Stark was in jail from 1986 to 2006 which is 20 years. Starks was later on released from prison in 2006.

During the trial, Starks said the coat, along with a watch pulled off the attacker by the victim, had been taken from him in a robbery around the time of the woman’s assault. Waukegan investigators reported that the victim picked the bearded 26-year-old’s image out of a lineup of photos, though trial testimony revealed that she originally had described her attacker as a clean-shaven man around 18 to 19 years old.

“Overall the case is injustices and he did not deserve the time spent in prison. There is nothing in this world that can replace the time that was spent in prison such as money. It’s a good thing, but they should just be more careful with the evidence,” said Junior Alejandra Olaguez.

Overall, they mistaken Starks for raping and beating a woman who was in her late 60s based off items that were left around the scene.
Now Starks is released from prison with almost a million dollars in his pocket.