Court Battles

Florida pardons four black men wrongly accused of raping white woman nearly 70 years ago


The Florida Clemency Board on Friday granted pardons to four African-American men who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949.

The Associated Press reported that the board granted pardons to each of the men, who are also known as the “Groveland Four” and are no longer alive. 

The four men were accused of raping a white woman in the town of Groveland, Fla., under what the news agency described as “dubious circumstances.”

{mosads}The alleged victim, Norma Padgett, said at the time that she and her husband were robbed by the group of black men after their car stalled on a road in Groveland. She also claimed that she was later kidnapped and raped by the men, The Orlando Sentinel reported.

Shortly after the accusation went public, one of the men was reportedly hunted down by a mob of roughly 1,000 and shot over 400 times. The mob also reportedly set fire to one of the men’s homes and fired guns into three of the others’ homes.

Three of the remaining men were convicted shortly after the incident but two of the men were reportedly shot by a local sheriff in 1951 after the Supreme Court ordered a new trial.

The Florida State Senate passed a resolution in 2017 apologizing to the families of the four black men.

They described the four men — Charles Greenlee, Ernest Thomas, Walter Irvin and Samuel Shepherd — as  “victims of racial hatred” and apologized for the “gross injustices” done to them during the Jim Crow era, according to The New York Times.

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