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Crime survivor, judicial reform advocate to visit campus

  • Photo of Jennifer Thompson

Posted on October 08, 2019

Jennifer Thompson made a conscious effort in 1984 to memorize everything about the man who was attacking her in hopes that she could help bring him to justice. Thompson was a college student in North Carolina at the time.

When Ronald Cotton was arrested shortly after the attack and charged with rape, Thompson was able to make a positive identification that would send him to prison for life.

Eleven years into his sentence, the availability of DNA testing proved his innocence and set him free.

Thompson will visit Grand Valley to tell the full story and discuss the need for criminal justice reform.

The event will be held October 16 at 6 p.m. in Loosemore Auditorium in DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Thompson is the founder and board chair of Healing Justice, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for healing in cases involving wrongful convictions and exonerations. She is the co-author of "Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption."

This event is sponsored by the College of Community and Public Service and the School of Criminal Justice. 

For more information, visit