Detroit man exonerated in 1997 rape case sues state of Michigan

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 18:40:22-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit man wrongfully imprisoned for more than a year on a rape conviction is now suing the state of Michigan.

James "Chad" Clay said had rape kits been tested in a timely manner, his life wouldn't have been turned upside down.

Clay was sentenced to 25 to 50 years for a rape he didn't commit, and was exonerated after spending a year and seven months in prison.

Clay said he filed the lawsuit because he wants justice and change. In 2017, he was convicted in a 1997 rape of a then 15-year-old.

For years, the victim's rape kit, along with thousands of others, languished on a shelf in an old warehouse.

Clay's attorney said it was finally discovered in 2009 and tested in 2016. Some DNA came back to Clay, but it turns out the victim was his high school girlfriend.

The lawsuit is critical of police, saying they showed the victim a picture of Clay as an adult. It wasn't until years later, when Clay's mom hired a private investigator, that the victim was shown a picture of Clay as a teen.

It was then she realized he was her high school boyfriend, not the one who dragged her into an alley at gunpoint and raped her as a child.

The lawsuit said according to the state's Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, Clay is entitled to just over $81,000.

We reached out to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, but they said they don't have any comment because of pending litigation.