Local News

Rape victim apologizes to wrongfully convicted man

Posted May 9, 2008 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2008 1:14 p.m. EDT

— A Goldsboro woman who was raped nearly 21 years ago says she never intended to identify the wrong man, who spent 18 years in prison for the crime.

"I apologize, deep-down apologize," Tomeshia Carrington-Artis said Friday.

WRAL News rarely identifies rape victims, but Carrington-Artis agreed to be identified to talk about the high-profile case and the release of Dwayne Allen Dail.

Dail, 39, was released from prison last August after DNA evidence on a nightgown proved his innocence.

Carrington-Artis, 33, said finding out that Dail wasn't her rapist left her with a range of emotions.

"It was like everything started all over again," she said.

This week, a Wayne County grand jury indicted William Jackson Neal Jr., who is serving a seven-year sentence as a habitual felon.

The indictment has left Carrington-Artis with mixed feelings.

"I think right now I have hatred, because not only has he messed up my life, but he helped made me mess up someone else's life," Carrington-Artis said.

According to the court records, Neal broke into Carrington-Artis' bedroom window and raped her. She was 12 years old at the time.

Weeks after the attack, Carrington-Artis said she was walking with her mother to her grandmother's home when she identified Dail, then 18, as her attacker. Upon seeing him, the child "froze up" before telling her mother Dail was the man who had raped her.

Carrington-Artis testified in the Dail's trial and said she will do the same when Neal's trial begins.

Carrington-Artis says she relives the ordeal almost daily.

"My attacker is still in control of my life," she said. "He still has me as a rape victim, when now I'm trying to be a rape survivor."

Though so many years have passed, Carrington-Artis said she still hasn’t dealt with the rape.

“I tried to put it in the past, like that little girl is not me. Now, I have to deal with it,” she said.

Carrington-Artis said she would like the opportunity to meet Dail and apologize.

"People tell me that, 'You were a child. It wasn't your fault.' But to me I felt like I need to hear him tell me, 'Iit wasn't your fault,'" she said.

Dail said he wants to meet Carrington-Artis soon to reassure her in person that he is not angry with her.

"I cannot possibly have hard feelings about a child that's been sexually assaulted," Dail said.

Dail is trying to move on with his life as well. Enrolled in a community college in Florida, he is working to finish his associate’s degree in computer science and hopes to pursue a bachelor's degree. Dail said he'd like to work in journalism.

Dail is currently working on a book about his life, but still has nightmares that he will wake up back in jail.