Cathleen Crowell Webb, who recanted a rape accusation that kept Gary D
JAFFREY, N.H. (AP) _ Cathleen Crowell Webb, who recanted a rape accusation that kept Gary Dotson in prison for six years, said Thursday she rarely thought of him after his conviction and even forgot his name: ″I probably thought of him once every couple of months and then blacked it out of my mind.″
Dotson, convicted of raping Mrs. Webb when she was a teen-ager, went fishing Thursday, one day after he walked away from an Illinois prison after his mother posted $10,000 cash for a $100,000 bond.
Mrs. Webb, whose testimony helped convict Dotson in 1979, said she is willing to testify at any legal proceeding in an effort to atone for her lie.
″I was obviously a good liar, and it was embarrassing to have to get up in front of adults in the courtroom and tell it all″ as a 16-year-old who made up the rape story because she feared she was pregnant after having sex with a boyfriend, she said at a news conference in Pilgrim Baptist Church.
Mrs. Webb, a 23-year-old mother of two, said that although an Illinois circuit judge did not believe her recanted story and returned Dotson to jail on April 11, her original testimony was riddled with discrepancies.
She said she had tried to put Dotson out of her mind after he was convicted. ″I probably thought about him once every couple of months and then blacked it out of my mind,″ she said. She said she even had forgotten Dotson’s name.
Mrs. Webb, a born-again Christian, said she was ″happy, elated that Gary Dotson is out of prison and can walk the streets like a free man.″
Seated with her lawyer, her pastor and her husband, David, she said she knows Dotson must clear several legal hurdles before he is completely free.
When she decided to tell the truth, Mrs. Webb said she contacted John McLario, her lawyer.
McLario said he tried to find Dotson’s name and circumstances but had no luck either with Illinois state attorneys nor public defenders’ offices.
″I was beginning to panic,″ he said. ″I was afraid that if he was in jail a day longer something would happen to him and I’d be responsible,″ he said.
McLario said he finally got Dotson’s name and his location from authorities in Country Club Hills, Dotson’s hometown.
But she said she had no idea her ″shame would be broadcast nationwide.″
″When I found out that somebody in the media knew about it, I cried,″ she said.
Dotson, 28, was released from the Dixon Correctional Center in Illinois on Wednesday, and went fishing near the Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills.
″They left before lunch and they planned to be out the whole afternoon,″ said Debbie Daniluk, a sister of Dotson’s who was visiting from Colorado. She said two close friends accompanied Dotson to a lake near the family home in Illinois.
Mrs. Webb came forward in March and said she concocted the 1977 rape tale.
Dotson was released for a week after an April 4 hearing at which his attorney, Warren Lupel, asked a judge to vacate the conviction and 25- to 50- year sentence because of Mrs. Webb’s new testimony.
But Dotson was ordered back to prison a week later when Circuit Judge Richard Samuels, who presided at Dotson’s original trial, said Mrs. Webb’s recantation wasn’t convincing.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Dotson could be freed on bond while appeals continue.
Dotson’s attorneys also are petitioning Gov. James R. Thompson for executive clemency.
Thompson has scheduled a May 9 hearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to consider Dotson’s petition and said he would make a decision within a day or two of that hearing.
Dotson said after his release Wednesday that a meeting with Mrs. Webb had been discussed, but that he would not speak with her until legal matters are resolved.
″I very much want to talk with her. I want to know why she waited (to come forward) and I want to see where her head is at today,″ he said.
″I just want to get back on with my life,″ Dotson told reporters.
″I’m skeptical,″ he said of his chances of remaining free. ″I believe I should have been let loose the first time (in April). I’m going to keep a very low profile. My lawyer told me to, and I think it’s for the best.″