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HOUSTON A man who spent 23 years behind bars for a crime he didn t commit is in trouble with the law again.

Ernest Sonnier with activist Quanell X by his side turned himself in to police Thursday morning on a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure.

Sonnier was sent to prison for a 1985 rape and kidnapping, but DNA evidence later proved he was innocent.

He was released from prison two years ago.

Quanell X said Sonnier believes when police saw his long history with law enforcement, they decided to charge him.

He s very upset. He s very hurt by it because you realize he spent 23 years in jail for a rape that he didn t commit. And now to be charged by something like this he believes he s being set up, the activist said.

But according to court documents, a woman said she was working at a convenience store in the 8300 block of Sultan Drive when Sonnier entered, looked at some items in an aisle and started staring at her, licking his lips in a provocative manner.

The woman told police Sonnier said I want you baby, exposed himself and committed a lewd act.

She said it frightened and offended so much, she started to cry.

The woman told police Sonnier left the store, and she was able to get a license plate number for his car.

After she called police, an officer spotted the car and identified Sonnier as the subject of the report.

Police said the woman was able to pick Sonnier out of a photo lineup as the man who had exposed himself to her.

Still, Sonnier maintains it was a misunderstanding.

He said he explained to law enforcement that he was not attempting to do anything with the lady, that he was only flirting with the lady, that maybe she took it out of context, Quanell X said of Sonnier.

Sonnier was being held Thursday on $5,000 bond, but said he planned to post it before the end of the day.

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