What It’s Like for Victims Who Wrongly Identify Suspects


Thomas Haynesworth, 46, was released from a Virginia prison this week after spending more than two decades behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit. He was cleared by DNA evidence. The Washington Post describes what it’s like for those who make wrongful identifications of suspects. Said the woman who accused Haynesworth, “I feel guilt. Obsessive guilt.”

Advances in genetic testing have led to the exonerations of 267 people across the U.S. who were convicted of crimes they did not commit. In more than three-quarters of those cases, a victim or witness identified the wrong person, according to the Innocence Project. “There is no support group for rape victims who wrongly identify people,” said Jennifer Thompson, who was raped in 1984 in North Carolina and wrongly identified a suspect. “While trying to do the right thing, we got it wrong. I felt that I had become the offender and [the defendant] was the victim. I had failed everybody.”

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