I am 32.
When I was 25 I was accused by the daughter of a family friend, who was 14 at the time, of sexual assault. She was profoundly disturbed (had been in and out of mental health facilities for years) and made up a story in which I came over to her house while her parents were out, got her drunk and high and raped her repeatedly. She told her parents this story and her mother believed her, her father had his doubts.
I was arrested and the trial came down to her word versus mine. My "alibi" was viewed as suspect (I was at home and lived alone at the time). The DA was running for mayor at the time and wanted to appear "tough on crime." I was offered a deal where I would serve no time but I refused, so they went for jail time.
I served 3 years in protective custody. For 2 years I was on the sex offender registry. Last year the girl, now in her 20's, confessed to making up the whole story.
I sued her and her family and received a six-figure settlement. I cannot sue the cops or DA under state law (unless I can prove collusion).
My life was destroyed. I lost my job, my career (I'm a teacher) my fiance, my family abandoned me. I live in another state, changed my name and literally speak to no one I knew in the first 30 years of my life.
The confidence that the mother, the DA must have mustered as they went about their work- filing documents and making arguments to the court, all with the tragically mistaken certainty that someone needs to be thrown in jail. This life-destroying falsehood was just casually wandering about in a DA's mind, in the mothers mind. And I highly doubt that they didn't have the opportunity to doubt themselves, or that the (ultimately correct) possibility of their being wrong was never presented.
And I bet, knowing better, they simply move on, and no apology is ever offered that begins to equal the injustice. So much shrugging, so much "hey man that's life." It would be funny if, with this hindsight, the DA could go back to the jury and argue to convict him on the grounds of "hey man that's life." And also give him a six figure compensation.