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Woman who wrongly ID’d Richmond man as rapist now on mission

RICHMOND, Va. — The woman who mistakenly identified a Richmond man as her rapist — putting him behind bars for 27 years — spoke with CBS 6 News for the first time Wednesday.

Thomas Haynesworth, who was 18 when Janet Burk identified him as her attacker, was convicted in 1984. He remained in prison until DNA evidence helped exonerate him in 2011.

Now he’s coming together with his former accuser to advocate for victims who mistakenly identify their attackers.

“We would definitely like to bring awareness to mistaken identity so this doesn`t happen to others in the future,” Burik said. “I think so many people think, ‘Well, that was 30 years ago. This doesn`t happen now, DNA is perfect.’ That`s not true. I definitely didn`t know this until three years ago when all of this happened.”

Haynesworth said there is room for forgiveness.

“They were victims,” Haynesworth said. “They made honest mistakes. Not intentionally done. Over the years I’ve had time to reflect… I hold no grudge or hard feelings to none of the victims.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli advocated for Haynesworth’s release and gave him a job in the AG’s office where he still works today.

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