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After 20 years in prison, man cleared in ’86 Waukegan rape

Surrounded by his attorneys, Bennie Starks speaks to the media after his court case was dismissed in the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan today. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / May 15, 2012)

Surrounded by his attorneys, Bennie Starks speaks to the media after his court case was dismissed in the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan today. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / May 15, 2012)

Lake County prosecutors have dropped rape charges against Bennie Starks, who spent 20 years in prison before DNA pointed away from him.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman appeared at a brief hearing and dropped the sexual assault charges.

“He is a free man and he is not guilty,” said Starks’ lawyer, Jed Stone.

Starks, dressed in a burgundy sport coat and black and white checked shirt, accepted a hug around the shoulder from another of his lawyers, Vanessa Potkin from the New York-based Innocence Project.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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