Pulitzer-winning author apologizes to ex-convict wrongly convicted of rape

Written by By Staff Writer

The author Alice Sebold, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Lovely Bones,” has apologized to an exonerated man who spent more than a decade in prison for her rape and murder.

Sebold wrote to Chester Freeman, who was exonerated in 2000 after DNA evidence determined he was not the assailant.

In a letter to Freeman, dated Tuesday and posted on her Twitter feed, she wrote, “I wish to express my sincerest apologies to you for what you suffered.

“The time has come for me to publicly respond to all of the recent inquiries regarding your past. Please accept my apology for the hurt and anguish I caused you and your family, and I hope you will accept mine,” wrote Sebold.

Freeman told CNN that he hasn’t read Sebold’s letter but thanked her for writing it.

“I guess I am sorry, of course. There are times in our lives where we may not forgive others,” Freeman said in a telephone interview. “But I am just so thankful that this situation has been resolved.”

Freeman was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison in 1994 in connection with the rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend, Catherine Wynn, whose naked body was found in Washington’s Adirondack Mountains in June 1994.

But DNA tests in December 1999 excluded Freeman as a suspect in the killing. In 2003, the medical examiner concluded there was too little evidence to definitively determine a time or cause of death in the killing. A convicted rapist, John Michael Jackson, was later found guilty of the murder and was given a life sentence.

Freeman sued New York State for false imprisonment and emotional distress, but a judge dismissed the claims.

Sebold wrote that she recently found out about Freeman’s wrongful conviction and is “horrified” at what happened.

“This situation is not about me; it’s about a serious injustice and unfairness in American justice. It is an injustice that I could never have imagined that I would be part of,” wrote Sebold.

Freeman’s lawyer, Harvey Wolf, said Sebold was one of several people to contact him after learning of Freeman’s experience.

Wolf said he plans to file a lawsuit on Freeman’s behalf in the state Supreme Court later this month.

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