Thomas Haynesworth

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes who believed in me. Twenty-seven years, I never gave up.” – Thomas Haynesworth

Thomas Haynesworth embraces his mother, Delores Haynesworth, after he was released from the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, March 21, 2011.


Thomas Haynesworth was an 18-year-old with no criminal record when he was mistakenly identified as a man who had attacked five women in Richmond, Virginia in 1984. All five victims identified him as their attacker, and he was sentenced to 74 years in prison.

In 2009, DNA testing proved that Haynesworth was innocent of one of the rapes and implicated Leon Davis, a notorious serial rapist at the time. There was no DNA evidence in Haynesworth’s remaining convictions, but DNA evidence in case where he was acquitted also cleared him and implicated Davis.

The evidence proved that Haynesworth was mistaken for Davis several times, and at the request of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys in the two jurisdictions Haynesworth was convicted in, he took and passed two polygraph examinations. Based on all this evidence, both Commonwealth’s Attorneys and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli agreed to support Haynesworth’s petition for Writ of Actual Innocence.

Thomas Haynesworth after being released from prison in March. DNA proved he did not commit two of the rapes he was tried for.
(P. Kevin Morley/Richmond Times-Dispatch, via Associated Press)

Haynesworth was released on March 21, 2011, but had to wait nine months for a judgement by the Virginia Court of Appeals before he could be taken off the sex offender registry. MAIP attorneys, Haynesworth’s legal team, and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office argued before the Court twice, until the Virginia Court of Appeals issued a 6-4 decision and fully exonerated Haynesworth.

Read more about this case:

National Registry of Exonerations


Washington Post – McDonnell signs bill giving Thomas Haynesworth $1 Million

Washington Post – Thomas Haynesworth Exonerated

Washington Post – Cuccinelli tries to help convicted felon Haynesworth clear his name

Richmond Times-Dispatch – Acts of empathy, forgiveness help mistaken accuser find peace

Richmond Times-Dispatch – Cuccinelli: Va. law should help clear names of wrongly convicted