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False rape claim doesn't end man's NFL dream, part 1

The criminal justice system doesn't always work the way that people think it should. Sometimes, the wrong people are accused of a crime. Sometimes those wrong people are put in jail. But the wrong people can be vindicated with the persistence of advocates for justice who are armed with the truth.

In a previous post about wrongful convictions, a study made it clear that not all innocent people can escape the mistakes and weaknesses of the system. This week, we have some good news regarding a once promising young football player who was accused of rape. New evidence supported that he was innocent of the severe charge and his rape conviction was overturned.

The trouble for the now 26-year-old man began in 2002, when one of his classmates claimed that he had raped her. A rape allegation can significantly affect the trajectory of a person's life, and it was no different for the defendant who was just a teenager at the time. He and those around him thought that his life could be best protected if he didn't risk going through a criminal trial that could land him in prison for 40 or more years. He pleaded no contest and served 5 years in prison as a result, along with probation afterward.

The next post will continue this story of both tragedy and vindication. This sexual assault case is an example of why the system and the public need to be extremely careful to not assume the guilt of a person charged with a crime. Sometimes, it can be the accuser who is in the wrong rather than the accused.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Man whose rape conviction was overturned invited to NFL tryouts," May 30, 2012

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