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North Carolina man exonerated after 44 years of wrongful imprisonment to receive $25 million settlement

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Wednesday, 10 January, 2024, 20:18
North Carolina man exonerated after 44 years of wrongful imprisonment to receive $25 million settlement

A man exonerated and freed after serving 44 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is to receive $25 million in the second-largest wrongful conviction settlement ever, Duke Law School’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic announced.

Ronnie Long, who is Black, was accused of raping a 54-year-old White woman and convicted by an all-White jury of rape and burglary in 1976. Long has now settled a civil lawsuit with the city of Concord and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for a total of $25 million, according to a news release from the clinic.

Long’s conviction was vacated in 2020 after “a trickle of post-trial disclosures … unearthed a troubling and striking pattern of deliberate police suppression of material evidence,” US Court of Appeals Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote in the decision.

The suppressed evidence, which included semen samples and fingerprints from the crime scene that did not match Long, was deliberately withheld by law enforcement, Thacker said in the filing.

“In the settlement, the City of Concord acknowledges and accepts responsibility for the significant errors in judgment and willful misconduct by previous city employees that led to Long’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment,” the city said in a statement announcing the settlement.

Long wrongly served 44 years, 3 months and 17 days in prison for the crime, the city said.
“No amount of money will ever compensate Ronnie Long for the 44 years he spent incarcerated and the indifference of numerous elected officials who fought to keep him incarcerated despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence,” the clinic’s supervising attorney Jamie Lau said in the release.

“While he was in prison his parents passed away; he missed birthdays, graduations, funerals, and other important events that mark a person’s life. He can never get this time back.”

Long’s settlement includes $22 million from the city of Concord and $3 million from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which he was previously awarded.

CNN has reached out to the Bureau of Investigation for comment.