A man from a small town in Michigan found himself a pariah after friends and even family members came to believe he had sexually molested and murdered a little girl.

For eight years, the rumors swirled. He was eventually arrested and sent to prison for 20 months for supposedly obstructing a police investigation by lying — but he was never charged in the child’s assault and murder.

That was likely because the rumors of his involvement were coming from the police themselves, who had no evidence to back up their claims. However, their lying wasn’t illegal — so they had nothing to fear.

Eventually, someone else made a confession about the assault and murder — but by that point, the victim of the small-town rumor mill had lost everything and moved to another town. Unfortunately, whispers of his misdeeds — without the clarifying details that exonerate him — followed.

Now, he’s seeking to have the court set aside his perjury conviction as a wrongful conviction, claiming that the evidence used against him was as fictional as the other stories the police told.

The perjury conviction was based on the man’s statement that he took a certain path while helping search for the missing child’s body. Detectives say that video evidence showed he was never on that path — however, the manager of the place that has the video camera told police that it wasn’t pointed toward the path anyhow. It would never have showed the defendant.

Wrongful convictions do happen — and they can destroy lives even after someone has served one’s time. As it stands now, this particular individual has to disclose his conviction on every job application and rental application — plus deal with the rumors.

If you’ve been wrongfully convicted, consider obtaining legal advice about your options so that you know what your rights really are.

Source: The Detroit News, “Exonerated man seeks to repair image in Michigan,” Francis X. Donnelly, Nov. 14, 2017