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As attorneys who represent victims of civil rights violations like discrimination and police misconduct, you get used to looking for what the state has done wrong: did the police assault someone without provocation, use too much force, or otherwise violate a person’s rights? Well, sometimes the same people who made a mistake make good on fixing it. After 29 grueling years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Raymond Towler is finally a free man. After prosecutors received DNA evidence that proved that Mr. Towler could not have been the animal that raped and attacked two children, they immediately asked that he be freed.

Needless to say, he was overjoyed:

Towler smiled, hugged relatives and friends and shook hands with everyone who extended an arm. Bystanders stared as he walked through the courthouse with television cameras recording his every step.

Towler entered prison at age 24 for a crime he didn’t commit. But two days after DNA tests proved his innocence, the middle-aged man with a salt-and-pepper beard said he doesn’t blame anyone for the injustice bestowed upon him.

He said he always knew he’d be exonerated but never expected it to take almost 29 years.

“They had the wrong person, and it took them a while to work it out,” he said, chuckling. “All I care about right now is that they did straighten it out. Now I can go on with my life.”

Mr. Towler’s attitude is amazing: an example to anyone of how to live a positive life. His story, though, is all-too-common; police and prosecutors expected to maintain law and order may feel pressure to bend—or even break—the rules. In this case, the officers and prosecutors involved surely felt intense pressure to capture the perpetrator of such a heinous sexual assault of a child, and made a mistake. In other cases we’ve seen, an officer beat a handcuffed teenager with a heavy flashlight and we were able to recover substantial compensation for him because the police had used unreasonable and excessive force. I’m glad that the Ohio Innocence Project is out there working on behalf of the wrongly convicted. Similarly, Mr. Towler is likely entitled to compensation for his ordeal. While this type of recompense can never change the pain these victims endured, it can help make life a little less difficult.

Have you seen, worked on cases involving, or been subjected to civil rights violations? Have you worked on cases trying to free someone who was wrongly convicted? What do you think about programs like The Innocence Project? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Raymond Towler freed after 29 years in prison for rape he did not commit


  1. Gravatar for Christine Zuniga
    Christine Zuniga

    Thank you for posting this incredible story. As the newspaper article mentioned, Mr. Towler was among the longest incarcerated people to be exonerated by DNA evidence. Good work Innocence Project!

  2. Gravatar for William Eadie

    Thanks for your feedback. I hope you were able to watch the video--it's particularly moving to see his attitude under the circumstances.

  3. Gravatar for Mad Jack

    Thanks for posting about this story of wrongful incarceration. I've seen civil rights violations and police misconduct on many occasions, and unless the entire incident is captured on video, not much can be done to rectify the situation. I've been stopped by police while driving for no reason at all - I was not given a ticket.

    The crime that isn't being addressed is that Mr. Towler was sentenced in 1981. Attorneys started working on his case in 2004, yet Mr. Towler isn't freed until 2010 - six years of incarceration due to a system staffed by obstinate, arrogant judges and obstructive bureaucrats.

    I offer my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to you and to all the people who work on The Innocence Project.

  4. Gravatar for William Eadie

    Thanks for your comments and sharing your experiences. I agree that any police misconduct case is made more difficult when it is just a swearing contest between the citizen and the police officer. Requiring video recording of all police vehicle stops and in-station interrogations--which some departments already have in place--is one way to help not only victims of police misconduct, but also all the good and honest police officers whose service can be tarnished by the bad apples. When you root out corruption, everyone benefits.

  5. Gravatar for Nick Karas

    I was invited by Mr. Eadie to post comments I had made to him regarding courtroom procedures. I am an individual with no legal background, hoping to convey my thoughts relative to a fair, commonsense approach to a fair trial. I had said previously, that those persons being tried for capitol crimes, should not be seen by the judge and/or the jury, only the ability to face their accuser, and I question that as well. Two examples that I like to use in making my point, are O.J. Simpson, and by contrast, a poor, uneducated, black man living in the south circa 1950. With Mr. Simpson, he is seen a legend in his own time, popular the world over. He, in the eyes of some jurors,would appear to be guilty of the crime when presented with the facts in the case, however, a jury member might be persuaded to cast a vote of not guilty due to his well known fame. For the black man in the south accused of perhaps raping a white woman, would be found guilty of the crime by virtue of his color. I see no reason for individuals to be visible in a court of law, and that the court would only know that a man, or woman, is being accused of a certain crime, and the outcome of the trial would be based solely on the facts. For the latter example, I know that I would not want to be a black man living in a southern town, accused of a crime against a white woman, with a jury pool consisting of an all whites. I don't think I could imagine things would go so well for me. Precedent has been made in similar situations where a state or federal agency brings charges against a person. The accused is not able to see their accuser, only the knowledge that a governmental agency is bringing the case forward. I must pause here to insert another thought. How often we hear a judge request that the jury disregard what may have been said in court. Do we really believe that a juror could simply erase those comments from his mind. Hardly! In closing, I have submitted these comments to one other legal website, only to be rebuffed with, "do you expect that we are going to change the entire historical process that we have used and have become accustomed to in the past"? Change is difficult sometimes, but when change becomes necessary, or a better way is found, change is good. P.S. This site was somewhat difficult to navigate for submitting my thoughts to the forum. If this area was not the correct place to be, please forward if possible to the appropriate location. Thank you in advance. Nick Karas

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