Monday, February 8, 2010

Dean Cage and Loretta Zilinger Reconciliation May Be A Blue Print For Society!

Can forgiveness bring peace? Consider the following improbable journey. In 1994, Loretta Zilinger, 15, was sexually assaulted by a man in Chicago. Zilinger testified at trial which resulted in the conviction of Dean Cage, then 26. Subsequent DNA testing in 2008 proved that Cage was sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit.
After Cage was released, he and Zilinger have become friends. They plan to address the public about their experience.

Think about the roller coaster of emotions. Loretta Zilinger, has had to come to grips with having wrongfully hated Dean Cage for all these years. The nightmare began back in October of 1994 when Loretta was on her way to Catholic school. She heard footsteps coming up behind her. Suddenly, a tall man grabbed her and hauled her into an empty building. The man threatened to kill her. She kept her eyes open as the man sexually assaulted her. She traced his nose, his eyes and his lips with her fingers so that she would be able to identify the assailant. Several days later, Chicago police brought her into the meat market where Dean Cage worked. A police officer instructed her to identify her attacker by gently tapping the officer's arm. She believed cage to be her assailant.

Cage insisted that he was innocent. In 1996, Zilinger's testimony helped convict Cage. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. After four appeals and 14 years in prison, Cage won his freedom. The DNA in the assailant's saliva did not match Cage's DNA. Cage was exonerated in May 2008.
Starting over

The conviction prevented Cage from marrying his fiance. Cage missed his sons' graduations. Prison prevented him from caring for his elderly mother. When Loretta heard of Cage's release she was scared. She asked the prosecutors for protection. Then she began to read about others blaming her for the wrongful conviction. Her assault and his release was continuing to bother her. So in November 2009, Zilinger, 31, packed her bags and headed for Los Angeles, California to appear on the "Dr. Phil" show to speak on behalf of rape victims. After explaining the DNA results, Phil McGraw, offered to let her meet Cage. Zilinger talked with her husband who had worked as a police officer in Indiana for almost eight years. Zilinger decided to face Cage.

Cage, now 43, thought he was doing another interview about his exoneration. Two years of freedom had helped fade some of the resentment he directed toward Zilinger. But he reasoned that the attacker, who has not been found, had ruined both of their lives. They were both victims. Zilinger and Cage embraced on the show and forgiveness occurred.

"Can you help me?" she asked.
"Can we help each other?" Cage responded.

Zilinger and Cage are helping to exonerated victims and the wrongfully accused. Since the show, the two have had lunch together. Zilinger's brother is helping Cage find a better-paying job. Cage currently works a minimum wage job at a barbeque place. Cage plans to marry his fiancee in May. Zilinger will attend as a guest.

This story is more than a tale of reconciliation. The words of Zilinger and Cage should be a blue print for society. "Can you help me? Can we help each other?" Let's hope the answer is yes.


Anonymous said...

Nice message. But will it fall on deaf ears?

Video Guy said...

The problem is that our Juducial system has turned into a monster that cares less about truth and more about procedure...Time after time innocent peoples are wrongly imprisoned because evidence that will clear them is withheld based on a procedure.

The whole system needs to be reworked, prosecutors should not have their careers based on convictions...they should be based on finding the truth!

Anonymous said...

100% correct Video Guy!

Anonymous said...

Love and forgiveness is the guiding light.

Anonymous said...

Demonstration of true love and forgiveness...

Anonymous said...

To forgive is truly divine.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing humerous or funny about displaying mugshots on people who are arrested. Many times the charges are dropped and an arrest recoed exist, causing more pain and agony. Arrest doesn't mean guity. Displaying mugshots is very poor attention getting mechanism. We have lives, and children. Very, very hurtful and harming.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Well put.