© 2022 NPR Illinois
Stand with the Facts
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Proving Actual Innocence & Overcoming Trauma To Help Others


Today, we have the story of a man who spent 20 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later would prove he didn’t commit.

We also hear from a woman in a different case – she was raped and accidentally helped put the wrong man behind bars.

First, Angel Gonzalez was an immigrant from Mexico living in Waukegan, Illinois, he was a young man working at a factory, who liked to spend time with his girlfriend. He was with her at her sister’s apartment when a woman in the same apartment complex was raped. The woman’s boyfriend noticed that Angel’s car in the parking lot wasn’t usually there, and from there police decided he was suspect number one.

We are joined now by Gonzalez, as well as a lawyer for the Illinois Innocence Project, Lauren Kaeseberg – who helped get him exonerated in early March. Gonzalez starts by telling us about his interrogation, which happened when he barely spoke English, and resulted in him signing a statement he couldn’t read:

Credit pickingcottonbook.com
Jennifer Thompson & Ronald Cotton

We also recently spoke with a rape victim who says she helped put the wrong man behind bars. Jennifer Thompson was a young college students when it happened. Now, she travels with the man she once thought had raped her, Ronald Cotton. They are spreading the message about wrongful convictions as part of the Illinois Innocence Project fundraiser dinner on April 8th. Listen to the interview with Thompson: 

Otwell interviews Jennifer Thompson

Related Stories