This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," April 11, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: It has been a long 13-month ordeal for these three students and their families. And a short time ago, we sat down with Collin Finnerty's parents, Mary Ellen and Kevin Finnerty.
VAN SUSTEREN: First the good news, and the happy news. How do you feel?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY, COLLIN FINNERTY'S MOTHER: Hard to describe.
KEVIN FINNERTY, COLLIN FINNERTY'S FATHER: Oh!
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Unbelievable. We've waited a long time for this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you watch it with your son?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: We all watched it together, all the families together.
KEVIN FINNERTY: And we have all of our family with us. So it was a big moment for all of us, obviously. And no one knew what he was going to say or how he was going say it. So I think that he delivered. And I think, you know, we've been waiting a long time for someone to search for the truth and for justice to be served. And I think we're absolutely thrilled.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, usually, they say there's not enough evidence. He used a different term. He used innocent.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: He read through all the facts. He knew nothing happened. He knew the boys were innocent.
VAN SUSTEREN: How is it for you? I know you — you and I have talked before, and Kevin, you and I have spoken before. It's been very painful for you guys. What's it like listening to the attorney general say that your son is innocent, after going through this?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Well, obviously, we've known he's — you know, we've know from day one that he's innocent, but now we're so thrilled that the world knows that after careful perusal of everything out there, you know, with 100 percent certainty, they know all three boys are totally innocent. And that's a feeling you can't describe.
KEVIN FINNERTY: I think this will stay with them for the rest of their lives. He has set the record straight. Finally, someone has set the record straight, someone who had access to all the evidence and all the information. And we actually think the attorney general is a very courageous man to step up and use the word "innocent," use the word "dismissal." I think he set these boys free, as they should have been a year ago.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: A long time ago.
KEVIN FINNERTY: This should never have happened.
VAN SUSTEREN: You say he's courageous. I think he was doing his job, and this should have been done earlier.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Well, I think they took the time to look at every single fact. And believe me, it was painful for us to sit and wait. We wished this was over a long time ago. But it almost makes it all the sweeter to know that there are no questions unanswered. They have all been answered, and they know the answer.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you say to your son after...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: This is just indescribable.
KEVIN FINNERTY: He's a great kid, and he's learned a lot. It's been just an unbelievable year for all of us, for all three families, for all three boys, and everybody's been through hell. And I think we all know that it's about family and friends and the love we have. And the fact is, this will now stay with them, and they are innocent. And he's just a great kid. I mean, a lot of hugging and...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Tremendous amount of love in that room this afternoon.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were the other two boys there, as well?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Yes. We were all there together.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did he say?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: What did...
VAN SUSTEREN: What did Collin say?
KEVIN FINNERTY: He was crying.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: He didn't say much. His — you know, his body language sort of said it all.
KEVIN FINNERTY: He was crying with happiness. And you know, there's somewhat a disbelief that this day finally arrived and people finally said the right thing. And again, this was what we hoped for, certainly not what we expected.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the DA, Nifong? Any thought about what his day is like today?
KEVIN FINNERTY: Well, can I only imagine, as could you. But justice has arrived in Durham, I think.
VAN SUSTEREN: Should they throw him out of office?
KEVIN FINNERTY: Well, you know, I think it's hard for us to imagine that he's allowed to practice day to day, as we sit here. But I think that it's up to the North Carolina state bar to finish their investigation on all the charges they have him up on. And I know the attorney general today alluded to possible criminal behavior in his speech today. And so maybe they take it to another level, but that's their decision, not ours.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Crystal, the accuser, what do you think of her?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Well, I think that the attorney general sort of summed up, you know, their feelings about her. And I think it was evident to all who heard his words. And if anything, you know, I feel sorry for her. I mean...
KEVIN FINNERTY: I was going to say exactly that, that there's a level of sympathy for people who are disadvantaged or have been challenged or have had things in their life that — and so as Mary Ellen said, I think the attorney general did a great job of summing up exactly why they're not going to press charges, and so we go along with that.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is — about your thoughts about the criminal justice system? I suppose you didn't spend much time thinking about it before, but you probably have thought a lot about it now.
KEVIN FINNERTY: Well, we have spent a year living it. And we kid each other and sort of say we feel like we're second year law students at this point in time. But it was hard to imagine that anyone was looking for the truth and searching for justice for three quarters of this year. And until the attorney general and the special prosecutors got involved, we had a very low degree of confidence in the fact that people were truly searching for justice, trying to serve justice. And I think the special prosecutors did their job. I think they were searching for the truth. We commend them for being as thorough as they were. But in the end...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Truth won out.
KEVIN FINNERTY: ... the truth prevailed.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you see all those cases, like where people are on death row, exonerations, and you read about them every day and you think about your system — if you look at your experience and all the people that probably don't have the wherewithal to — you know, to prove their innocence — I mean, you're not supposed to have to prove your innocence.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you know, that's the hell that you've been living with, with your son.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: I think that that's something that we'll work actively as a family going forward to try to help other people that find themselves in this situation. We've certainly learned a tremendous amount. And you have to be tough and you have to fight every day, but in the end, the truth won out here. And you know, as Collin and the boys have all said, they want to make sure that this doesn't happen again to somebody else. So that's given us incentive to get out and help other people in similar situations.
KEVIN FINNERTY: I think we need to let the dust settle here and sort of regather our emotions and put things back together. But I think that the boys — I know Collin, Reade and Dave, we've talked about it, and I think that they are interested in getting behind some larger initiatives to help other people or to, hopefully, prevent this type of thing from happening again. And I think that Roy Cooper today referred to a new law that he was proposing as a result of this, and I think that's a great step in the right direction. I think that there are probably a lot of other ways to go, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Think it's harder on the parents than the young men, in some ways? Because I know that you've — the parents have gotten close, and I know you guys have, you know, suffered an awful lot, worrying about your son.
KEVIN FINNERTY: Oh, it's definitely hardest on the moms.
VAN SUSTEREN: On the mothers?
KEVIN FINNERTY: On the mothers, you know?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Oh, I don't know.
KEVIN FINNERTY: You know...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: We've all walked a very difficult road for the last 12 months, so we're not going to compare whose was worse. But we're all thrilled to share in this day together.
KEVIN FINNERTY: I got to tell you, I watched from up close three moms and three sets of boys and three families, and you know, the boys are athletes and they're resilient and they're — you know, I think they suffered, boy. But the moms, I think — you know, they brought these kids into the world. They mother them and...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: It's tough.
KEVIN FINNERTY: The emotion — they're just programmed emotionally, you know, and my heart has broken for Mary Ellen, for Cathy and Rae over the course of the year. And I — it's tough on everybody, as Mary Ellen said, but I think she's done a great job.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: I'm a happy woman tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: I bet you are. And you've made two new friends, the mothers...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: You guys — what do you do, do you talk all the time?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Yes. Yes. I mean, it's pretty amazing, I think, through all the stress that we, as three families, have encountered in the past year. And everybody's case is a little bit different. But it's an amazing uniform front from all the legal teams, the families, the boys, the girlfriends. We have a bond that will stay with us forever.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is Collin now — is he ready to get his future sort of mapped out? I won't — you know, what he's going to do and...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: No.
VAN SUSTEREN: No?
KEVIN FINNERTY: No. He's not — look, he didn't know how this was going to conclude, if it would conclude at this point. And again, we need the dust to settle and...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: One day at a time.
KEVIN FINNERTY: Yes, we'll take it one day at a time. We need to pick — there's a lot of pieces to pick up and...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: A lot of healing.
KEVIN FINNERTY: It's going to take a while.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Duke University? Your thoughts about Duke?
KEVIN FINNERTY: Well...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: You know, there were some real heroes at Duke. I mean, Kirsten Kimmel — amazing...
KEVIN FINNERTY: Coach of the women's lacrosse team.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: ... the coach of the women's lacrosse team from day one, she was an amazing source of support. And Professor Coleman, obviously. You've seen him out there. He was an amazing support. Both boys' and girls' lacrosse teams constantly in touch with the kids. So there was a lot of good support. We just wish there had been more.
VAN SUSTEREN: Today is the high point. The low point was when?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Oh, wow. Probably a year ago right about now.
KEVIN FINNERTY: Yes, I think when we found out that Collin was indicted.
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Pretty frightening.
KEVIN FINNERTY: That's when the blur began. And I think it's been a very long year, and we're just thrilled that it's resolving appropriately here.
VAN SUSTEREN: And his siblings? How do...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: They're all here with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: They are?
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Yes, they're all celebrating, and they deserve to be part of the celebration.
KEVIN FINNERTY: They're hugging and crying, you know, they lived through this whole...
MARY ELLEN FINNERTY: Been a long year for them.
KEVIN FINNERTY: Yes. Everybody went through a different part of this, you know, in their own way, and everybody suffered. And the ripple effect is huge. I mean, it's not just one person or one family, it just goes out from there. And you know, these kids, we wanted them here because they've had a really long and tough year, and they felt for their brother. And you know, there's a lot of love.
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