Utah man exonerated of rape decades later wants public, courts not to rush to judgment

Sep 13, 2019, 2:59 PM
Chris Wickham speaks at a press conference at the University of Utah on Friday. He was wrongfully convicted of raping a teenage girl decades ago but was recently declared innocent of all charges. Photo: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY – The innocent man who was falsely convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl is speaking out days after he was cleared of the crime.

Chris Wickham was accused of attacking the girl during a birthday party at his home in Salt Lake City in 1996. However, he was being treated at the hospital after getting into a car accident at the time of the assault.

His airtight alibi was not really mentioned in court, his defense lawyer possibly unaware the hospital paperwork had time stamps.

Wickham had appealed his case several times, including to the Utah Supreme Court, but remained in prison.

He was paroled in 2011, but the conviction was not overturned, forcing him to register as a sex offender.

“A lot of people think that it won’t ever happen to you, which I actually said before this happened,” Wickham told reporters during a press conference on Friday at the University of Utah.

In 2013, the Utah State Parole Board reduced his convictions to third-degree felonies after they reviewed his hospital records.

In 2014, the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center took up his case, and he was declared innocent of all charges this week.

Wickham wants to use this experience to remind the courts not to rush to judgment, even in highly charged cases.

“A lot of people have been convicted on someone saying that something happened, and it wasn’t actually what happened. I’m not saying that there are not guilty people out there because there [are], but make sure they are,” Wickham says.

He says he had met his accuser briefly at the party, but had taken off with his friend to grab some snacks when they got into an accident.

Wickham told reporters that he’s an evangelical Christian who does not hold animosity towards anyone, but he regrets not being able to see his children grow up.

He also wants change.

“The system…there was a lot of opportunities they had to make this right, and they didn’t,” Wickham says.

He’s been awarded $615,960 in restitution by the state.

Co-defendant Danny Pliego, who pleaded guilty to an amended charge of unlawful sexual intercourse, later vouched for Wickham’s innocence.

Today’s Top Stories


paramore attack great saltair...
Simone Seikaly

Paramore condemns reported homophobic attack at concert

Paramore said the attack happened outside of their view and that they didn't find out about it until after the show.
19 hours ago
Gov. Spencer Cox appointed John D. Luthy to the Utah State Court of Appeals on Tuesday....
Mark Jones

Gov. Cox appoints John Luthy to the Utah State Court of Appeals

Cache County Attorney John Luthy has been appointed by Gov. Spencer Cox to serve on the Utah State Court of Appeals. Luthy has been practicing law since 2003.
2 days ago
Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill...
Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake County DA will not file charges in officer-involved incident

Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill says an incident on March 17, 2022, doesn't fall into the category of an officer-involved critical incident.
3 days ago
supreme court pictured, its new term has started and will hear new cases...
The Associated Press

Supreme Court’s top cases for new term, new Justice Jackson

Already the Supreme Court has said it will decide cases on a range of major issues including affirmative action, voting rights and the rights of LGBTQ people.
3 days ago
pig poop power...
Elizabeth Weiler

Nations largest pig farm exposed, two face criminal charges

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A jury selection is underway after two activists filmed their theft of dying piglets from Utah’s Circle Four Farm in an attempt to save them.  Advocates are calling it a landmark case to establish the “Right to Rescue” animals in distress.  Animal rights activists Paul Darwin Picklesimer and a former Northwestern […]
6 days ago
Follow @SimoneSeikaly...
Simone Seikaly

Utah County Sheriff arrests man for felony sex offenses against a child

The Utah County Sheriff's Office said that the case is being prosecuted by Juab County Attorney Ryan Peters.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Utah man exonerated of rape decades later wants public, courts not to rush to judgment