Could You Be an Eyewitness?: Loretta, Dean

Two Lives Changed Forever

"I was 15 years old. I was on my way to school and that's when my life changed," remembers Loretta, 30. "I saw a man in a doorway of an apartment building, and then I heard footsteps behind me. I was punched in my left eye. He took me by my hair behind an apartment building and down some stairs. I was told if I screamed, he would kill me. I was told to lie on my back. I don't really know exactly what he did down there. All I know is that it hurt. And I just wanted to go home," she says tearfully. "I was told to pick up some dirt and to rub it on my vaginal area and to rub it on my chest. He told me to stay there. If I got up, he'd kill me. I waited a few seconds after I heard him leave, and then I took off, screaming for help.

"I went to the police station to do an identity sketch. It was computerized. I felt 100 percent sure that the man that I sketched was the man that I had seen that morning. They had a tip that there was a man that worked at a meat market that resembled my sketch," Loretta says.

Dean, 43, remembers, "I was at work. I heard my name over the intercom. I came to the front, and I saw this lady point."

"I screamed, and I grabbed my detective," Loretta says. "That was the man who raped me."

"And then two guys with suits on, walking toward me, and the next thing I knew, they were putting handcuffs on me," Dean recalls. "I was like, ‘I ain't done nothing. Why are you putting handcuffs on me? Why are you taking me to the police station?' I was really embarrassed and hurt. They put me in the lineup, and they told me what I was being charged with: criminal sexual assault."

[AD]Dean's fiancée, Jewel, recalls, "When I found out what the charge was, I was devastated. I think they made a terrible mistake. And I thought it would be resolved real soon. We had been together two years prior to him getting arrested, and I knew his character."

"I stayed in Cook County Jail two-and-a-half years, waiting on my trial," Dean says. "When I was going through the trial, I knew everything was going to be OK. But once the judge said guilty, I just started crying."

"It was hard for me to trust men. I was ashamed," Loretta says. "The man took away a piece of me that I could never share with somebody. He took my virginity away, something that I wanted to wait and give to somebody special."

"I knew I wasn't this person, and I got on my knees, and I prayed, ‘Watch and protect me,' because they had me with people who killed people, people who raped people, gangbangers and drug dealers. It was scary, real scary," Dean says.

Fourteen years later, in May 2008, Dean was in the prison library when he again heard his name over the intercom and was summoned to the counselor's office. "The counselor told me, ‘Pack your things. You are going home.' I was like, ‘Man, quit playing,'" he says, laughing. "He said, ‘I ain't playing. Your DNA test came back. You were not the person.'"

[AD]Jewel remembers, "I got the news from one of Dean's attorneys. She said, ‘Can you come get Dean, like, right now?' And I said, ‘Yeah."

"It was a nightmare in there, but it was a blessing to come home," Dean says with tears in his eyes. "And I know everything is going to be all right."

"I was on my way to work, and my lawyer told me that he was getting out of jail," Loretta says, crying. "I thought I was safe, but I don't feel safe anymore. I'm 100 percent sure that he is the man who raped me."

Dr. Phil asks Jewel, "Did you ever lose faith?"

"Oh, never," she says.

He asks Dean, "What's your emotion about it? Is there anger? Is there sadness? There is a tremendous loss of time here."

"Yeah, it was, because I had lost so much," he says. "My mother raised me, and my grandparents raised me as well, and I lost both of them when I was in the county. And it hurt me so bad because I couldn't be there to watch them be laid to rest. I missed my kids growing up. It just took a big part of my life away. Everything has changed. They didn't have cell phones when I left. I think the popular thing then was beepers. They didn't have computers or flat-screen TVs. It was just … so much had changed."

[AD]Dr. Phil points out that Dean had no criminal record before his arrest. "How do you feel about this woman who identified you as her rapist? Are you angry with her? What's your emotion about that?"

"I can't be angry with her, because she has been through a lot as well, and it's hard. It's really hard trying to cope with something like this," he says.