If you've ever been accused of stealing, you know what a distressing experience it is.

Your first reaction may be uncertainty, an unwillingness to believe what you just heard. "What was that? What did you say?"

When the accusation is repeated, you may be shocked or confused. As the reality sinks in, you are likely to be outraged and indignant. You may protest your innocence and look for moral support in the faces of bystanders.

How dare this person accuse you of stealing! How dare he embarrass you in front of family, friends, and strangers! What are these other people thinking? Do you look like someone who would steal?

This is how Cartrell Daniels of Lebanon says he felt when a restaurant manager accused him of stealing his cell phone.

Cartrell was sharing a meal with family at the Golden Corral Restaurant in Collinsville two days before Christmas last year when the manager leveled his accusation.

Cartrell has since filed suit for defamation in St. Clair County Circuit Court. He asserts that he was "a person of good name, fame and reputation in and around Lebanon" and that he "has been greatly injured in his reputation; he has suffered great humiliation and emotional distress; he has been submitted to public shame and has suffered emotionally as a result thereof."

This is just the way an innocent person would feel after being falsely accused. And it's just the way a guilty person would act to feign innocence.

Cartrell has been accused of theft before. A few months before the Golden Corral incident, he was arrested by Belleville police on suspicion of retail theft. He pled guilty to the charges on April 7, according to the St. Clair County State's Attorney.

So much for being "a person of good name, fame and reputation in and around Lebanon." Apparently, the standards are different there.

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