Ronnie Long case: City of Concord compensates him with $25 million for his 44 years of unjust imprisonment

The man was wrongly convicted in 1976 of rape even though the evidence was never conclusive.

Ronnie Long, the man who spent 44 years of his life in a North Carolina prison for a crime he did not commit, has finally received compensation. His lawyers reached an agreement with the city of Concord, N.C., to receive a payment of $25 million for the wrongful sentence Long suffered through 2020.

The events date back to 1976, when authorities in Cabarrus County, N.C., accused Long of committing rape on April 25 of that year. According to the indictment, Long threatened Sarah Judson Bost, a 54-year-old woman, with a knife and sexually assaulted her. The jury then sentenced him to two life sentences, when Long was just 21 years old.

At 65 years of age, Long and his defense managed to prove that he had nothing to do with that crime. In 2020, a federal appeals court ordered a rehearing of Ronnie Long's case. In this new trial, the first conviction was annulled. A year later, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper offered him a pardon as an apology.

To exonerate Long, DNA samples and fingerprints found at the crime scene were key. Neither the traces of semen that were found nor the fingerprints, more than 40, matched those of Long. It was also considered malpractice that none of the evidence supposedly incriminating Long was shared with the defense.

Racism in the 1970s

Ronnie Long's defense maintains that the police authorities in Concord and Cabarrus County committed serious malpractice to incriminate Long. Duke Law, Long's representative, explained to Fox News that the authorities worked to avoid having any jurors who, like Long, were black.

"While there are no measures to fully restore to Mr. Long and his family all that was taken from them, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the past wrongs and take responsibility," the city said in a statement. The $25 million that compensates Long is the sum of various amounts of money paid by different administrations. The settlement also includes the State Bureau of Investigation, who was the one who hid the evidence from Long's defense during the trial.