Alstory Simon being released from prison in 2014
CBS Chicago   

Alstory Simon walked out of an Illinois prison as a free man on Oct. 30, 2014, after his murder-and-manslaughter convictions were tossed out. But the former inmate, who was incarcerated for almost 15 years, is suing Northwestern University, a former journalism professor, a private investigator and his own defense attorney for forcing his false confession, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Simon is seeking $40 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and “conspiracy,” the Tribune notes. The lawsuit, which Simon filed with the U.S. District Court in Chicago, claims that the defendants “conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.” 

Now-retired Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess and his students had investigated Porter’s death-penalty conviction for a 1982 double murder and decided to work to get the conviction overturned. As part of their efforts, private investigator Paul Ciolino got a videotaped confession from Simon for the crimes by using an actor to “falsely implicate” him, according to the Tribune. Simon’s confession, in turn, led to Porter’s release from prison in 1999.

Simon’s own release came after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez looked into Protess’ actions and had concerns about his integrity, the Tribune notes. She also had concerns about Ciolino and the independence of Jack Rimland, Simon’s defense attorney, who was an associate of Ciolino.

The lawsuit says that “Northwestern knowingly approved, encouraged and ratified Protess’ and Ciolino’s deceitful and unethical conduct” out of a desire for “prestige and financial gain,” according to the Tribune. In addition, “Northwestern’s conduct permitted a culture of lawlessness to thrive in Protess’ investigative journalism classes and investigations, which not only placed Northwestern’s students at an alarming risk to their own safety, but resulted in the crimes perpetrated against Simon,” the lawsuit reads. It also points out that Simon will “never regain the decade and a half lost of his life.”

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Read more at the Chicago Tribune.