Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rape victim reveal

It happen 25 years ago and she ( Jennifer Thompson-Cannino) attested that Ronald Cotton raped her in Burlington. She picked him out of a lineup, identified him in court and rejoiced when he was sentenced to life plus 50 years.

In Winston-Salem, she rebuilt her life, assuaging her memories of the rape with her belief that justice had worked and she'd ensured that the rapist would rot in prison. In 1995, DNA testing proved that another man had raped Thompson-Cannino, and Cotton was exonerated and released after 11 years in prison. He was overjoyed and Thompson-Cannino was devastated. Eventually, together, they began working to reform the justice system that failed them both so miserably.

This is the compelling story that Thompson-Cannino and Cotton tell with the help of writer Erin Torneo in their new book, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption. A 60 Minutes segment in which Thompson-Cannino and Cotton talk about the book is scheduled to run tonight. Their story should challenge more people to insist on criminal-justice reform.

In Winston-Salem, the Deborah Sykes murder case and the Jill Marker beating case have underscored the need for that. DNA testing exonerated Darryl Hunt in Sykes' murder and implicated another man, and Thomson-Cannino has often spoken out with Hunt for justice. "Certainly, Forsyth County has been slower to reform than any other North Carolina county that I've seen," she said last week, speaking of the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office and the Winston-Salem Police Department. "We're slow to admit that we've failed, and to put changes in place that would lessen the failure rate," said Thompson-Cannino....Read More

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