The story of a rape victim and the man she wrongly accused


Jennifer Thompson-Cannino was certain that Ronald Cotton raped her in Burlington, North Carolina on the night of July 28, 1984. She picked him out of a lineup and, on the basis of her testimony, he was sentenced to life plus 50 years.

However, 11 years later, new DNA evidence established his innocence.

Last night on 60 Minutes, Thomson-Cannino told Lesley Stahl she felt terrible shame. “Suffocating, debilitating shame.”

Two years after his release from prison, she wanted to meet Cotton and ask his forgiveness.

“I started to cry immediately. And I looked at him, and I said, ‘Ron, if I spent every second of every minute of every hour for the rest of my life telling you how sorry I am, it wouldn’t come close to how my heart feels. I’m so sorry.’ And Ronald just leaned down, he took my hands…and he looked at me, he said, ‘I forgive you,'” Thompson-Cannino remembered.

Eventually, both of them have become close friends and have traveled together telling their story in an effort to reform eyewitness identification methods.

Full story here.