"That’s how memory works. It’s so fragile. It’s so easily contaminated."

When DNA evidence ultimately proved that another man committed the rape and Cotton was freed, Thompson-Cannino was consumed by guilt and shame. She was also terrified that the man from whom she felt she had stolen 11 years would attempt to exact vengeance on her and her triplet children.

But Cotton had long since forgiven her. “I couldn’t carry on serving my time in the prison system holding grudges and thinking about retaliating against a person that made an honest mistake. I had to proceed on in life regardless,” he told Vieira.