Could You Be an Eyewitness?: Dr. Phil and Loretta

Facing the Truth

Dr. Phil sits down with Loretta to help her understand what the DNA evidence says is true, that the man she identified as her attacker and helped to lock up is innocent.

"Loretta, I'm really glad to meet you, and I'm really sorry for the circumstances," Dr. Phil tells her. "Tell me why you wanted to be here today and what you hoped to accomplish."

"I wanted to be here to see if I can maybe help somebody else, and hopefully, I can find closure," she says. Fourteen years have passed since her attack, but it all feels very fresh to Loretta, now that Dean has been released from prison. "I have a lot of flashbacks," she tearfully tells Dr. Phil. "I wake up in the middle of the night, and there are times when I think my husband is the person, and there have been times where I've started hitting him, and he'd say, ‘It's me, it's me, it's me, your husband.'"

"Why did they release him?" Dr. Phil asks.

"They released him because the DNA sample didn't match him," she says. She breaks down in tears. "I don't understand why. Why did they let him go? I can't believe it to this day."

"Let me talk to you about what I want to do. The first thing I have to get said: You have not and cannot do anything wrong in this situation," Dr. Phil tells her. "How you reacted to it at the time wasn't wrong. How you've reacted to it since was not wrong. The fact that you're having more intense flashbacks, or nightmares or thoughts about this is not wrong. There are very few times in life when there's just not anything that you can do that would be wrong, and this is one of those times. Because let me tell you, the worst thing that can ever happen is when a victim gets victimized, and you are clearly a victim here. You didn't do anything to bring this rape on at the time. What you did is you stayed alive. You could've made other decisions and wound up dead. But you survived. I just hope you realize how strong and courageous you've been through this whole thing. Do you get that?"

[AD]Tears run down Loretta's face. "I try," she says.

"Why is that hard for you to hear me say?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Because I don't feel like it. I'm ashamed of myself. I feel like I did wrong, especially with him getting out," she says.

"Oh, Loretta, listen," Dr. Phil says compassionately. "You did nothing wrong here. I am so glad you're here today, because I want you to use your life like you're doing. And so many are going to be inspired by you and moved by you. That is such a great thing. You be proud of who you are and what you've overcome."

[AD]Loretta, who is married with four children, cannot believe that the wrong man was convicted. Dr. Phil plays a recording of three of her children reading letters they wrote to Dr. Phil, to help their mom get happy again. She is moved to tears.

Dr. Phil explains that he wants to help her get past this trauma, so her children can have all of their mother. "Have you entertained the thought in your mind that they had the wrong man in jail?" he asks.


"No, sir," she says. "I saw his face as clear as can be. I don't believe it."

Dr. Phil explains how Loretta can take a step toward healing.

Back onstage, Dr. Phil asks Dean, "What do you think after watching that? She thinks it's you. She says, ‘I have seen his face.'"

"Not this face," Dean says. "Not this face."

[AD]Dr. Wells says this is not a strange scenario. "Generally speaking, once a mistaken identification happens, the face of the person who was mistakenly identified tends to become the witness' memory, so what she is really remembering at this point is not back from the crime scene, not back from the time she was raped, but the memory she has is of the person she has identified," he says.