A long 26 years later, two men wrongfully convicted of rape were finally exonerated on Monday in a Manhattan Supreme Court after the accuser admitted the assault "never happened."
In 1991, Van Dyke Perry and Gregory Counts were convicted of the kidnaping and rape of an unidentified woman in Harlem despite a lack of physical evidence. Perry spent 11 years behind bars and Counts served 26 years.
The woman claimed she was kidnaped at knife-point and raped in a car by three black men near her Queens residence. But there was no physical evidence to support her accusations concerning Perry and Counts; the semen collected after the alleged rape did not match the accused. However, as noted by Vibe, the prosecution relied on the "inconsistent testimony" of the accuser, who was a recovering crack addict. Moreover, as pointed out by the defense at the time, the woman's then-boyfriend was wanted by authorities for shooting Perry two months before the alleged incident.
In April, the accused admitted to authorities and the New York Innocence Project that she lied about the rape. It "never happened," she confessed, adding that she was on drugs at the time and pressured by her then-boyfriend to lie.
The third mystery man accused by the woman was never found, and the semen collected was eventually found to match a man who died in 2011.
After the men had their convictions vacated in court, an emotional Counts amazingly expressed his forgiveness for the woman who wrongfully accused him of rape; the woman responsible for putting him behind bars for 26 long years.
"I can’t be angry," said Mr. Counts. "If I waste a minute being angry it’s a waste of time. That’s a minute I could have been happy."
District attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. expressed his frustration at the legal system, which he said was biased against young black men.
"At the end of the day, nothing will give these men back the years away from family, or the years spent in prison," he said. "No apology can make them whole."