James Giles, Jr. was only three years old when his family told him his father was going away. It took him a while to understand what that really meant-his dad was being sent to prison for gang-raping a woman. But James Giles, Sr. spent ten years behind bars for a crime someone else with the same name committed. His conviction was overturned, but the crime tore his family apart.
"My dad was on the other side of the world," said Giles, Jr. "Knowing that when you leave he gotta go somewhere else and you gotta go somewhere else - a place that I wouldn't be able to touch him or just hold him or he'd [be able to] hold me when I'm hurting" [was difficult}.
Giles, Sr. and his ex-wife stayed married throughout his entire sentence, but divorced less than two years after his release. A major reason they split up is because registered sex offenders are not allowed to live with children, even their own children.
Derolyn Giles said, "I had to listen to criticism [from the] community; different [people] making statements, accusations, calling me stupid and crazy for waiting, but in my heart I did what I had to do."
Her son often heard the same comments-remarks that his father was a rapist, when the whole time it wasn't true. Because of the wrongful conviction, Giles said he never got to know his father, especially since they were never allowed to be alone together after his release.
"You see other kids able to play with their father," said Giles, Jr. "I didn't have mine around to play basketball or sports like that with. It hurt."
"In my heart, they knew the truth but didn't care, and that's the way I feel about it-they didn't care," said Derolyn Giles. "I don't want to seem racist or biased, [but] I feel like [his race] had a lot to do with it back when it happened."
Derolyn and James, Jr. said they never once doubted James, Sr.'s innocence and no longer believe in the justice system - a system James, Sr. is trying to improve by fighting for the rights of other exonerees.