Beerntsen was overcome with remorse for Avery’s incarceration and for Allen’s continued crimes.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I knew Steven Avery wasn’t a Boy Scout, but nobody should serve time for a crime they didn’t commit. ... I just wanted the earth to swallow me. I swear that day was harder than the day I was assaulted.”
....When Beerntsen learned of Avery’s innocence, she sent a letter of apology and offered to meet with him, much like in the victim-offender mediations she facilitated in the past. Only this time, she considered herself the offender.
“He was very gracious,” she said of their meeting. “The day he was released from prison, he said, ‘I don’t blame the victim. It’s not her fault’ I always say that’s one of the most grace-filled things that’s ever been said to me.”
Beernsten accepts responsibility for her mistaken identification. But research shows it’s not unusual for victims to be wrong. During traumatic events, memories are often inaccurate and recall can be distorted by post-event information. In Beerntsen’s case, she had been informed of Avery’s prior arrests by sheriff’s deputies. She also heard others voice suspicions of his guilt.