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NM- Innocent man imprisoned for rape speaks out

7-25-2008 New Mexico:

A man jailed for child molestation after a name mix-up is finally speaking out about his ordeal.

Johnathan Chavez, a Santa Fe man, is still fuming at police and prosecutors three years after they arrested him for raping a child.

It started out for Chavez when an officer ran his license plate. Unbeknownst to him, another man by the name of Jonathon Chavez was wanted for raping a 14-year-old girl.

Chavez said he had no idea why the officer was putting him in handcuffs.

"They wouldn't tell me why I was being arrested, they just put me in the cop car and started hauling me off," he said.

Chavez's lawyer says when his client was arrested, the man police were looking for was already in jail on a burglary charge. That man has since pleaded guilty to the rape.

Chavez doesn't mince words about his erroneous imprisonment.

"At this point, I don't even care for an apology anymore. They pissed me off and I hate them," he says.

Chavez says after his arrest he was imprisoned for an entire week with sex offenders which caused him to live in constant fear.

"They threatened to rape me, mess around with me, get me while I was sleeping," he said. "You kind of have to live in fear because they are bigger and older and experienced at these crimes and you have to kind of watch your back."

In the last few months, Chavez has reached settlements with both the city and county totaling about $200,000. However, he says the situation won't be fixed until he changes his name.

"I don't want my name associated with anyone like that. I don't want another mix up," he said.

Chavez said the city hasn't done anything to fix the situation that caused the mix up and another innocent person could face the same predicament he did.

The Santa Fe police chief said he didn't want to comment on the case because it involved litigation. The district attorney was not available for comment. ..News Source.. by New Mexico

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