Retrial in home invasion, sex abuse case set to begin

Retrial in home invasion, sex abuse case set to begin

URBANA – A Champaign man accused of a home invasion and sex abuse that allegedly happened almost two years ago is scheduled to be retried in Champaign County Circuit Court Wednesday.

The accused man and supporters of his have regularly picketed at the courthouse in the two years since he's been charged, claiming he's the victim of racial injustice. Thompson is black. His accuser is white.

Patrick D. Thompson, 37, whose last known address was in the 1800 block of Winchester Drive, was charged on Aug. 25, 2004, with two counts of home invasion, and one count each of intimidation, unlawful restraint and criminal sexual abuse.

The charges stemmed from an incident alleged to have occurred the day before at the Urbana apartment of a woman who was a next-door neighbor to Thompson.

According to court reports, Thompson is accused of unlawfully entering the apartment of a now-31-year-old woman who was living at 1702 E. Colorado Ave. There he is alleged to have pinned her on a bed, fondled her breast and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone of the incident.

Almost a year ago, Thompson, who represented himself along with the help of his friend Aaron Ammons, neither of whom are attorneys, managed to get a mistrial declared when the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict.

At the time, Thompson told the jury in his opening statement he was representing himself because he didn't feel he was getting adequate representation from the attorney he had previously hired to represent him. Judge Harry Clem, who was presiding, sent the eight women and four men jurors out of the courtroom and admonished Thompson that his self-representation had nothing to do with the case. Clem later told the jury not to concern themselves with the reasons Thompson didn't have an attorney.

Thompson is now represented by Urbana attorney Harvey Welch.

He is being prosecuted by Michael Vujovich, a special prosecutor from the state appellate prosecutor's office in Springfield, who inherited the case in December 2004 when State's Attorney Julia Rietz took office. Rietz asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed because she had previously represented Thompson when she was in private practice. The charges against Thompson were filed when former State's Attorney John Piland was in office.

The first trial against Thompson took three days. The state's case involved primarily the testimony of the victim and the Urbana police officer who was called to her place of employment later that day to take her report. In his defense, Thompson noted the state had no physical evidence, such as bruises or marks on the woman, to corroborate her claim, and that the police had not assigned an investigator to look into the serious allegations, instead leaving it to a patrol officer.

Thompson believes he was charged with the sex case as retribution for his work with a group of activists who were watching and videotaping the actions of local police during the summer of 2004. His work with the "Visionaries Educating Youth and Adults" resulted in him being charged by Piland with eavesdropping for videotaping a Champaign police sergeant while he was at work.

On her first day in office, Rietz dismissed that charge against Thompson and requested a special prosecutor for the home invasion and sex case. Piland had earlier dismissed the eavesdropping charge against Thompson's colleague, Martel Miller, 45, of Champaign.

The videotaping that resulted in Thompson being charged took place on Aug. 7, 2004, but he wasn't charged until Sept. 2, 2004, about a week after he'd been charged in the home invasion case.

Thompson and Miller filed a federal lawsuit in June 2005 against the city of Champaign and Champaign County claiming their civil rights were violated by their arrests. That case is pending in U.S. District Court in Urbana.

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