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Reade Seligmann Statement

Reade Seligmann

I would like to start out by saying that we are all deeply saddened by the absence of Kirk Osborn on this very emotional day. Kirk stood by my side from the very beginning of this travesty and did all that he could to proclaim my innocence. Not only has North Carolina lost one of its finest attorneys, it has lost a man who embodied the words honor and integrity. We will never forget his sacrifices and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Today marks the end of a year long nightmare that has been a destructive force in so many peoples lives. The dark cloud of injustice that hung above our heads has finally cleared and we can now all look forward to continuing the life that has been taken from us. My family appreciates the efforts of Attorney General Roy Cooper and Special Prosecutors Jim Coman and Mary Winstead for their thorough investigation. While this day is long overdue, we recognize their diligence and perseverance to uncovering the truth in order to show the world that we have always been 100% innocent of these charges.

This past year has been the most difficult and painful period of my life and I would like to credit my family and friends for keeping me focused and bolstering my spirit throughout this agonizing journey. My Mom and Dad are the toughest, most loving parents anyone could ask for and it is because of there relentless will to defend my name that we were able to make it through the storm. I have been inspired by the courage and strength of both my parents and three brothers who have provided me with so much love, guidance and unquestionable faith in my innocence. I love you all so much.

I must also thank all of my attorneys. Kirk Osborn, Buddy Connor, Antonio Lewis, and Jim Cooney, along with the other defense teams. All of these men have worked tirelessly to ensure that three innocent men did not spend thirty years in prison for a hoax. I would like to specifically thank Jim Cooney for restoring my faith in the legal system. Through his bold leadership, incredible work ethic and sincere concern for my well being, we were finally able to achieve justice.

To the Evans's and Finnerty's, I will never forget your tremendous bravery and unwavering resolve throughout this unbearable ordeal. I wish you all the best in the future as we all move on with our lives and hope that we can repair the damage that was done.

I am forever grateful for all of the care, concern, and encouragement I received from my remarkable girlfriend Brooke and her family, the Delbarton community, the town of Essex Fells, KC Johnson , and everyone else who chose to stand up, use their voice and challenge the actions of a rogue district attorney.

This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If it is possible for law enforcement officials to systematically railroad us with no evidence whatsoever, it is frightening to think what they could do to those who do not to have the resources to defend themselves. So rather than relying on disparaging stereotypes, or creating political and racial conflicts, we must all take a step back from this case and learn from it. This tragedy has revealed that our society has lost site of the core principle of our legal system, the presumption of innocence.

For everyone who chose to speak out against us before the facts were known, I sincerely hope that you are never put in a position where you experience the same pain and heartache that you have caused our families. While your hurtful words and outrageous lies will forever be associated with this tragedy, everyone will always remember that we told the truth, and in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "truth is the best vindication against slander'. If our case can bring to light the some of the flaws in our judicial system as well as discourage people from rushing to judgment, than the hardships we have endured over this past year will not have been in vain.

As the healing process begins for our families, I feel as though it is my responsibility to create something positive out of this experience. During my time away from school I got the chance to learn a lot about myself: Who I am and who I want to be. This case has shown me what the important things in life really are as my entire perspective on the world has changed. I view this situation as a unique opportunity to make a difference and I know that there are many people who can benefit from the lessons I have learned.

I fully intend on continuing my education and look forward to pursuing the goals I have set for myself. I have the deepest appreciation for my educational and athletic opportunities and my dream is to return to both by this fall. My ultimate aspiration moving forward, is to live a life that will make all of those who stood by my side throughout this injustice, proud to know that they defended the truth.

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