On the morning of August 24, 2004, a 29-year-old woman reported that her neighbor, Patrick Thompson, had followed her from a communal laundry room into her apartment in Urbana, Illinois, where he forced her into her bedroom and began to fondle her and tear at her clothes. The woman, who is white, said she managed to escape and called police.
Thompson, 35, whom the woman knew from the building by face, but not by name, was arrested and charged with home invasion and criminal sexual abuse.
At the time Thompson, who is black, was a member of the Visionaries Educating Youth and Adults group which was critical of the actions of police and had videotaped some of the police officers interacting on the street with young black men.
Thompson and another member of the group previously had been charged with illegal eavesdropping, but those charges had been dropped by the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office.
On December 1, 2004, Thompson was released on bond.
Just prior to his first trial in July 2005, Thompson had a falling out with his lawyer and decided to represent himself. The woman identified him as her attacker. Thompson testified on his own behalf and denied the attack, saying that he was with the Visionaries group working on a documentary. His wife also testified and confirmed his alibi.
On July 20, 2005, a mistrial was declared when the jury deadlocked with six jurors voting to convict and six jurors voting to acquit.
Thompson hired a defense attorney for the second trial. A police officer testified that the victim told him that Thompson had followed her into her apartment, said he wanted to have sex and began fondling her and tearing at her clothes.
An aide at the hospital where the victim worked reported that the victim described the incident to her in a similar fashion.
Thompson’s attorney convinced Thompson not to testify and failed to call Thompson’s wife to testify.
During closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury that the testimony of the officer and the hospital aide corroborated the testimony of the victim.
Thompson was convicted by a jury on July 7, 2006.
Prior to his sentencing, Thompson hired new attorneys, Robert Kirchner and Ruth Wyman, who began investigating the case.
In August 2006, Kirchner and Wyman filed a motion for a new trial, asserting that Thompson’s trial lawyer had provided ineffective legal assistance by failing to uncover numerous witnesses who would have testified that the victim had made false claims of sexual attacks in the past, that she went to work on the morning of the attack and displayed no concern and in fact laughed and joked with fellow employees.
The motion said that Thompson’s trial lawyer failed to locate witnesses who would have testified that the victim claimed the attack occurred in the laundry room—not her apartment—which would have precluded a home invasion charge.
Thompson’s new lawyers also argued that Thompson’s trial lawyer failed to introduce evidence that at the time of the alleged attack, Thompson was wearing a finger splint—something the victim did not report in her description of the attack.
The motion also pointed out that Thompson’s trial attorney failed to object to the admission of the testimony of the police officer and hospital aide as inadmissible hearsay.
On April 4, 2007, Champaign County Circuit Court Judge Harry Clem granted Thompson a new trial, ruling that the testimony of the officer and of the hospital aide were inadmissible.
Thompson went on trial for a third time in May 2008. The prosecution presented the testimony of the victim. The defense called several witnesses testified that Thompson injured his finger on the day before the alleged attack and that he was wearing a splint on the day it supposedly happened.
Thompson’s wife testified that on the morning of the alleged attack, she and Thompson got up around 6:20 a.m. and were together until he left to go to a video project he was working on sometime after 7 a.m.
A woman who was staying with the victim at the time of the alleged attack testified that she did not believe the attack occurred—that the victim had never mentioned the attack and acted normally on the day in question.
On May 12, 2008, the judge entered a judgment of acquittal on the home invasion charge but allowed the jury to deliberate on the criminal sexual abuse charge. That same day, the jury acquitted Thompson.
In August 2008, Thompson obtained a judgment against his defense attorney at the second trial for $3,000, the amount he had paid the lawyer.
– Maurice Possley