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Man Wrongfully Convicted For Rape Who Spent 44 Years In Prison Receives $25M Settlement

1976 – Ronnie Long. (Photo credit: Concord Police Department/Charlotte Observer via AP)

OAN's Brooke Mallory
1:10pm – Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A $25 million settlement has been reached between a North Carolina city and the state of North Carolina over a complaint alleging misconduct by authorities, the victim's attorney announced Tuesday. This man was convicted of a crime he did not commit and was imprisoned for 44 years.

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The settlement also includes a written public apology from the city of Concord for its role in incarcerating Ronnie Wallace Long, which halts a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit filed by his lawyers in 2021. The company, located about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte, agreed to pay $22 million of the $25 million settlement.

“We deeply regret past mistakes that have caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends, and our community,” the statement said. “While there is no way to fully recover all that was taken from Mr. Long and his family, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the wrongs of the past and take responsibility.”

Long, now 68, is accused of raping a white woman when he was a young man living in Concord, North Carolina. In 1976, Long was convicted of robbery and rape by an all-white jury in Cabarrus County. She Long was 21 years old and was sentenced to two life sentences.

For many years, he has received assistance in criminal appeals from the Wrongful Conviction Clinic at Duke University Law School.

Long's attorney said the more than 40 fingerprints taken from the scene were never compared to Long's. Additionally, his defense team was not given any access to semen samples.

In August 2020, Mr. Long was granted a second trial by a federal appeals court as part of his request for relief. Long's conviction was quickly overturned and he was allowed to leave prison. Later that year, Governor Roy Cooper granted him a full pardon, citing his innocence.

A few months later, Long was awarded $750,000 by a state commission, the most the state can offer to victims of wrongful imprisonment.

He then filed a lawsuit in federal court in Raleigh, alleging, among other things, that Concord police officers engaged in “extraordinary misconduct” that resulted in his wrongful conviction and detention and “violated his constitutional rights.” .

According to his attorney's press release, Mr. Long also received an additional $300 payment from the State Bureau of Investigation as part of the settlement “as a result of the SBI's role in concealing evidence proving his innocence from Mr. Long and his legal team.” “I won a million dollars.” ”

“We acknowledge and accept responsibility for the gross errors of judgment and willful misconduct by former city officials that led to Mr. Long's wrongful conviction and incarceration,” Concord officials said Tuesday.

Long's lawyers called the payment “one of the largest wrongful conviction settlements” in the country, but argued that the city's declaration was critical to their client.

“This result speaks to the magnitude of the injustice that occurred in Mr. Long's case,” said Chris Olson, one of Mr. Long's attorneys. He also added that his “apology will go a long way toward Mr. Long's recovery.”

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