A Louisiana man walked free after spending nearly three decades behind bars for a rape that the victim herself has long insisted she did not commit, authorities said.

Patrick Brown, 49, had been convicted of aggravated rape in 1994 in a case involving his 6-year-old stepdaughter, Orleans Parish prosecutors said.

But the girl never testified, and Brown’s conviction was based on the adults testifying «about what they thought she said.» according to a statement Orleans Parish District Attorney.

The now-adult woman «has been adamant for more than 20 years» that Brown is innocent «and the evidence corroborated the victim’s account,» the district attorney said.

Criminal District Court Judge Calvin Johnson released Brown on Monday.

Attorney Kelly Orians said her client never gave up hope of ever being free. She heard him tell a bystander in the courthouse that her freedom is not a fluke.

«He told someone, ‘This is not like winning the lottery, this is an act of Jesus Christ,'» Orians told NBC News on Wednesday. «He said that he never gave up hope that this would happen, largely because of his faith in God.»

District Attorney Jason Williams, who won the elections for his office in 2020He said it was «disheartening» to learn that the victim’s insistence that Brown was not her attacker had gone unheeded for so many years.

“Hearing and engaging victims and survivors of sexual assault is a top priority in this office,” Williams said in a statement. she wanted the real offender to be held responsible.»

The New Orleans prosecutor said wrongful convictions have a particularly corrosive impact on the judicial system.

“When someone is wrongfully convicted, it is not only an injustice to the person who had years of their life stolen from them, but it is also an injustice to the victim and the people of New Orleans because the true perpetrator is allowed to hurt others. Williams said. aggregate.

Orians said Brown and his loved ones could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning as they made up for all the years he was locked up in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a maximum-security facility in Angola.

«They’re really just focused on spending time together and making up for the last three decades of not being able to be together,» Orians said.

In his first 48 hours of freedom, the exoneree attempts to familiarize himself with 2023 technology.

«All of that. Everything between cell phones, computers, hybrid cars, electric vehicles, debit and credit cards, it’s all very overwhelming and completely new to him,» Orians said.