Trevecca Nazarene University

Wrongly accused man and his accuser speak on campus

Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, authors of Picking Cotton, shared their story at Trevecca Nazarene University on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

A crowd gathered in Trevecca’s Benson Auditorium to hear firsthand accounts from the authors. Their story began in 1984 when Thompson-Cannino, a 23-year-old college student in North Carolina, was brutally raped. Convinced that she had memorized every detail of her attacker’s face, she picked Ronald Cotton, a 23-year-old African-American, from a line-up. Cotton was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Eleven years later DNA evidence exonerated him.

Thompson-Cannino and Cotton went on to tell the amazing part of their story. Cotton forgave Thompson-Cannino and they became friends.

Picking Cotton, their emotional memoir, was named a New York Times “best seller” following its publication earlier this year. Its themes of mistaken eye-witness identification, the miscarriage of justice, restorative justice, and the healing power of forgiveness resonate with readers.

Their appearance at Trevecca was made possible by a partnership of Trevecca and Vanderbilt University.

View the WXMV Channel 4 news story about the event by clicking on the link below.