With all of the blaming directed at the rape victim, none of those who did so or who defended others doing so seem to have written anything negative about the one person who undeniably knew that Timothy Cole was innocent.
The man who raped Michele Mallin. Jerry Johnson.
Johnson did eventually contact Cole's attorney with an offer to help exonerate Cole, but Cole was already dead by that time. When Cole was on trial for a rape he didn't commit Johnson did nothing to help.
Unfortunately, too many people view this as not being an injustice. Johnson was just exorcising his legal rights. Yet Jerry Johnson's actions -- beginning with rape -- are the root cause without which Cole wouldn't have been wrongfully IDed and wrongfully convicted.
Thankfully, Johnson himself has acknowledged his key role in this injustice.
On Friday, the real rapist, Jerry Johnson, confessed in an Austin courtroom and apologized for the 1985 attack on a Texas Tech student. He also took responsibility for allowing Cole, a teenager at the time he was convicted, to take the blame.
"I am responsible," said Jerry Johnson. "I say I am truly sorry."
Johnson took the stand about 4 p.m. and read the words victim Michelle Mallin had written to describe her night of terror so many years ago. Malin, who had mistakenly picked Cole out of a lineup, sat in the packed courtroom and watched as her real attacker addressed the crowd.
After Johnson testified both Mallin and Cole's mother confronted Johnson about the impact of his crime and his silence as an innocent man was wrongfully convicted.
The criminal justice system needs to be improved so that bad processes won't be used no matter what motives investigators have for using sloppy and error-prone processes. But we cannot afford to forget the role that rapists play in the wrongful identification of innocent suspects.