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02-08-10, 12:07 PM #1
Man exonerated of rape by DNA evidence after 14 years in prison teams up with his accuser to educate othersShe was going to share her ordeal with the world on the syndicated "Dr. Phil" show. She agreed to appear on behalf of rape victims like herself, who were too scared to speak up.
But Zilinger had no idea the show would offer her the chance to face the man she thought attacked her. During the taping, host Phil McGraw, a former psychologist, explained the DNA tests to her.
Then, the show offered to let her meet Cage the next day.
Filled with anger and grief, Zilinger said she would have to think about it. She was still confident Cage's DNA results were incorrect.
Later that night, after talking to her husband of 10 years, she changed her mind. Zilinger's husband had worked as a police officer in Indiana for almost eight years. He knew witnesses made mistakes and that DNA tests were highly accurate.
That conversation was the first time the couple had really discussed the rape. For all those years, Zilinger had kept the attack to herself.
"I eventually knew I had to face him," she said. "I felt guilty that I was responsible for all the years he spent in jail."
It was Cage's first time in Los Angeles, too. The 43-year-old thought he was doing another interview about his exoneration. He didn't expect to see his accuser there.
His two years of freedom with his family had changed Cage. The resentment he held toward Zilinger had faded. He had goals, like finding a job and raising his 3-year-old granddaughter.
The attacker, who has not been found, had ruined both their lives, he concluded. They were both made victims.
On the show's stage, Zilinger and Cage embraced
"I hope you get the closure, and I hope you can find the person who did this," he said to her.
"Can you help me?" she asked.
"Can we help each other?" Cage responded.
Making a difference
Zilinger and Cage are sharing their story to help exonerated people and victims who have misidentified their assailants. Most victims truly believe the exonerated person is guilty despite DNA evidence, according to experts who study wrongful convictions.
They plan to start an organization to educate groups about wrongful convictions and spread their message of forgiveness.
"She was sincere in her apology," Cage said. "I knew it was the right thing to do."
For the first time since the attack, Zilinger no longer lives in fear. She feels at peace, like she has closure, and she wants to help other women reach that point.
"I realized I can't always call myself a victim," she said. "I have to start calling myself a survivor."
She has asked the Chicago Police Department to reopen her case. She wants the DNA evidence that freed Cage to find her attacker.
Since the original taping in November, the two have had lunch together. Cage has met with Zilinger's brother, who is helping him find a better-paying job. Since his release, re-integration into society has been harder than Cage expected. He works a minimum wage job at a barbeque joint to earn rent money for his family.
Things are looking up, though. His wedding has been delayed for 16 years, first by his wrongful arrest in 1994 and recently by the rocky economy.
But Cage plans to marry his fianceť in May -- and he has already invited Zilinger.
Exonerated man, accuser forge rare bond - CNN.com
02-08-10, 02:30 PM #2
Ahh how cute, when are they going to make a TV show about this so we can all watch it!?Just because your sign off after you're shift is done, doesn't mean that it's over and put blinders on. You're a cop 24/7 wether you like it or not. If thats something you can't handle, you should find a new line of work!
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