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Unringing the Bell

Unringing the Bell

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John Ramsey after the graveside service of his wife Patsy Ramsey in 2006. Barry Williams/Getty Images hide caption

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Barry Williams/Getty Images

"Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

That's the famous question former Labor secretary Raymond Donovan asked on May 25, 1987, after being acquitted of fraud charges. And I'm sure that many who have been falsely accused, imprisoned, or even acquitted, have asked the same thing.

John and Patsy Ramsey were only cleared of wrongdoing in the murder of their daughter, JonBenet, twelve years after her death — and two after Patsy herself died, of ovarian cancer.

From rape and murder, all the way to plagiarism or fraud, there are some accusations that are punishments in and of themselves —- whether you did the crime, or not. "You can't," as one defense attorney told me today on the phone, "un-ring that bell." The question is — can you ever rebuild your life after you've suffered a false accusation?