Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I am the one with the power now, buddy

Crimes against defenseless animals are the worst crimes in the world. But rape runs a close second. There’s never an excuse or explanation for rape. So if we agree that rape is unforgivable we must agree that falsely accusing someone of this heinous act is equally awful.

Last Friday a Texas judge reversed the conviction of a man who died in prison nearly a decade ago, almost two decades into a sentence for a rape he did not commit. The man’s name was Timothy Cole. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1985 rape of a 20-year-old student named Michele Mallin. He maintained his innocence, but it was not confirmed by DNA until years after his 1999 death, when another inmate confessed to the rape. When she was raped, Mallin was a student at Texas Tech. She was walking to her car when a man approached her about jumper cables. He forced himself into her car, drove her to the outskirts of town, and raped her. The next day, police showed Mallin pictures of possible suspects. She chose a picture of Timothy Cole. She later identified him in a physical lineup. "I was positive," she said. But there was one detail: Mallin told police her attacker was smoking. Cole, who suffered from severe asthma, "was never a smoker," said his brother, Cory Session. "He took medications when he was younger."

Mallin was wrong. DEAD WRONG. Before trial Cole rejected a plea deal. In prison, Cole rejected an offer of parole that would have required him to admit guilt. Later on, the asthma that plagued him throughout his life brought about his death on December 2, 1999. The cause was determined to be heart complications. He was 39.

The man who actually raped Mallin was Jerry Johnson. Johnson has been in prison since ‘85 for aggravated sexual assault. Johnson was given a life sentence for the rape of a 15-year-old girl, and a jury later tacked on a 99-year sentence for another rape. He cannot be charged with the Mallin rape, as the statute of limitations has expired. In 2007 a letter addressed to Cole arrived at his family's home, written by Johnson. Says the letter, "Your attorney tried to show I committed the rape. I have been trying to locate you since 1995 to tell you I wish to confess I did in fact commit the rape." Johnson did not know Cole had died. In fact, he’d been writing to court officials for years to confess to the rape. The Innocence Project became involved after Cole's family received Johnson's letter. DNA tests confirmed that Johnson was Mallin's attacker. NOT COLE.

"I was very traumatized," Mallin said. "I was scared for my life. I tried my hardest to remember what he looked like. I'm trying to get his name cleared. It's the right thing to do."

Cory Session says, "We don't blame Michele. She's very gracious."


If Timothy Cole’s family doesn’t blame Michele Mallin, who or what do they blame? This slimeball Johnson? The system? What did the system do wrong? This woman was raped, told police an innocent man was her attacker. She pointed him out in a lineup. Said her attacker smoked, while ignoring the fact that it would be almost impossible for asthma-sufferer Cole to smoke. She stuck to her testified story throughout his trial, his conviction, and sentencing. For 20 years while this guy rotted in prison, she held steadfast: Timothy Cole raped me. When he was offered parole in exchange for admitting his guilt, he said NO WAY. Mallin still said he was her rapist. The system believed her sworn testimony thus allowing this man to die in prison. This was before DNA. They had a victim swearing she knew this man was her rapist. What did the system do wrong?

In Judge Charlie Baird’s courtroom last Friday, Mallin, now 44, faced Jerry Johnson, the man who confessed to the rape. "What you did to me, you had no right to do," she told him angrily. "You've got no right to do that to any woman. I am the one with the power now, buddy."

She's the victim?

I don’t understand why this idiot-woman was given any power at any point! Are we supposed to feel sympathy?! Her inaccuracies (I won’t call them lies) cost an innocent, 25-year-old man his entire life! If my brother died in prison because some dummy falsely accused him and stuck to the story for 20 years! The last word you’d hear me use was gracious to describe her. You rape somebody you should go to jail, of course. But if you falsely accuse somebody of rape, ruin that man’s reputation, and destroy his life, I say it should be just as punishable. Justice in this case would be to rip Michele Mallin out of HER life, away from HER family, and let HER rot in prison for 25 years. “I am the one with the power now, buddy.” Are you kidding me? Who says that? Is she too stupid to even realize what she did to Cole and his family? Her 20-year trek of stupidity allowed an innocent man to die in prison with the name of a no-good, lowdown rapist. WHEN HE WASN’T! There’s no worse way for a man’s life to expire than that.

I understand that this young woman was traumatized from the experience of being raped. I get that. But if you’re going to point the finger for something this serious you better be a BILLION % sure. She wasn’t, and now it’s too late. Timothy Cole is dead. Mallin gets to go home “with the power” and I say the whole thing sucks. And because of cases like this, women who were raped and actually finger the guilty party may not be believed, because no DA’s office wants to make this kind of mistake for public consumption. My greatest wish would be for this Michele Mallin to get a dose of her own medicine: 25 years in Federal Lockup, her reputation ruined, her life destroyed. In my eyes, she’s just as guilty as the guy who raped her.

When convicted, Timothy Cole said, “They know I ain't done nothing to that girl. I don't even know that girl. Why they do this to me, mother?” He cried in his mother's arms on the floor. He's the victim in this whole mess.

We know the truth now. Too bad that truth came 10 years too late.

"He'll never have the chance to have children," Cole's mother, Ruby Session, said. "I want you to know he was a fine young man."

We'll never know that, Ruby. But at least we can be happy to know that Michele Mallin is “the one with the power now, buddy.”

Brian Huba

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