I have heard the story of Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton a few times now, but I do believe that it bears repeating.
In 1984, Jennifer was raped. In an effort to reclaim her life, she identified Ronald Cotton as her rapist. Mr. Cotton proclaimed his innocence. 11 years later, a confession by another inmate in jail and the evolution of DNA testing cleared Mr. Cotton of his conviction.
After being released from prison, there are many assumptions that could be made, Mr. Cotton might have become bitter or vindictive about his lost time. He may have resented Ms. Thompson-Cannino all of his days. Both Mr. Cotton and Ms. Thompson-Cannino might have borne lifelong emotional scars of this experience...perhaps never being able to feel safe, trusted, secure, loved, able to love...
But everything you could expect was nothing that happened. Instead, they each sought forgiveness and gave grace to each other. Meeting for the first time in a church after Mr. Cotton was released, the two are now close friends. They appear on the lecture circuit speaking not only about forgiveness but also about judicial reform. Both now have families of their own and enjoy what their lives are today.
I cannot imagine having the strength to be on either side of this relationship. The journey that they each took to be where they are today is one of the most amazing I have ever heard. I stand in awe of both Mr. Cotton and Ms. Thompson-Cannino and they are lodged in my mind forever as a reminder of how powerful it is to say "I'm Sorry. I Was Wrong." and how it is even more powerful to say "I Forgive You."
To hear more of this amazing relationship in their own words, please visit here and here.
*Note: the actual rapist was convicted and is serving time for his crime along with other convictions.
4 days ago