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80-Year-Old Pardoned Convict Settles With City Over Torture Claim

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An 80-year-old man pardoned for a rape he says he didn’t commit finally feels vindicated after settling his lawsuit against the city.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, it has been eight years since Oscar Walden Jr., now 80, began suing the City of Chicago over a false conviction dating back to 1951.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Walden claims police tortured him into admitting to the rape of a white woman on Nov. 24, 1951, on the city’s South Side. Walden is African-American.

He was pardoned by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2002, and sued for $15 million. His case went to civil trial, but a jury ruled against him last year.

But U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo set aside the decision and ordered a second trial, while criticizing the tactics of the city’s lawyers.

Now, the Chicago Tribune reports the city and Walden have come to a settlement. Terms of the settlement have been kept confidential by the judge’s order.

Walden’s attorney, Flint Taylor, tells the Tribune his client is “very satisfied” with the settlement.

The Tribune reported previously that Walden’s attorneys have also asked the city or the law firm that represented it be forced to pay legal fees, amounting to more than $330,000.

The court filing by Walden’s attorneys claims that the lawyers who represented the city – Andrew Hale and Avi Kamionski – were also criticized by judges in other cases, the Tribune reported. In the Walden case, they supplied the jury with a graphic narrative of the rape and other evidence that was not supposed to be admitted, the newspaper reported.

In his criminal trial, Walden said he had to sleep on the floor in the old “death row” in the basement of the Cook County Jail, where an electric chair was once located. He also testified that he had a forced circumcision when he arrived at Stateville Prison to serve his sentence after conviction, according to published reports.

Andrew M. Hale & Associates was later removed from the case.