US Black Men Wrongly Accused of Rape, Receive Pardons 70 Years Later
Four black men who were wrongly accused of raping a 17-year-old white girl in the southern U.S. state of Florida 70 years ago, received pardons Friday.
Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Ernest Thomas became known as the Groveland Four.
All of them are dead.
Members of their families, however, are still alive.
The families attended the clemency hearing in Tallahassee Friday where officials voted unanimously to pardon the four men.
“It is never too late to do the right thing,” Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried.”
Thomas was killed by a mob shortly after the incident in 1949.
The other three were tortured into confessions and convicted by all-white juries.
Shepherd was shot and killed by a sheriff who was transporting him to a re-trial.
Greenlee and Irvin received life sentences.
Norma Padgett, the alleged rape victim, is still alive. She also attended the hearing Friday.
“I am not no liar,” she told the hearing.
Independent investigators have proved the men who were convicted without any evidence, during the notorious Jim Crow-era in the U.S., were innocent of the charge.
Devil In The Grove, a book about the Groveland Four case, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013.