‘I regret everything’: Convicted rapist comes face to face with his victim

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NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Convicted rapist Norman Jimmerson has been behind bars for 30 years after raping a woman in Williamsburg. Recently, he spoke with the victim of that assault and she offered him her forgiveness.

Debbie Smith requested a meeting with Jimmerson, 30 years after he attacked her. She said she was ready to forgive him for his actions and needed to speak with him to “know that that forgiveness was absolutely real.”

They talked for five hours. Jimmerson said there was a lot of tears and crying. He had been wanting to tell Smith how he felt for awhile.

“I regret everything, you know, that I put her through,” Jimmerson said.

8News previously spoke with Smith about her experiences during that phone call and how the attack impacted her life.

“Just listening to her and understanding what she went through and everything, it was impactful,” Jimmerson said.

During that conversation, Smith said Jimmerson apologized over and over again. She said it was often and “very genuine.”

“He said ‘sorry doesn’t do it but it’s all I got’,” Smith said.

For years, Jimmerson could not even admit his actions to himself or to others.

“I just couldn’t believe that I did such a thing and the pain that I caused,” Jimmerson said.

DNA evidence was used to convict him of walking into Smith’s home in Williamsburg’s Skipwith Farms neighborhood, threatening her with a gun and dragging her into the woods and sexually assaulted her repeatedly.

Years passed before early DNA technology was used to link him to the crime.

Jimmerson said he attacked Smith while on drugs. He had been using drugs to cope with the loss of his three-year-old son.

“The drugs became like a medicine,” Jimmerson said.

It wasn’t until his time in prison that Jimmerson ceased being in denial about his actions. After years of lying, he confessed his crimes to his family.

“I had a process to go through to even want to get to a point where I could admit it, you know, that I had harmed someone,” Jimmerson said.

He credits Virginia Department of Corrections programs like “Thinking for a change” and the “Victim Impact Program” for coming to terms with the truth and opening his eyes to the impact of his actions on others. Jimmerson credits his time in prison with his rehabilitation saying he basically grew up behind bars.

“It caused me to want to be the best that I can actually be,” Jimmerson said.

Jimmerson will be considered for parole soon, that decision will be in the hands of the Parole Board. He told 8News that he is a changed man.

Smith was uncertain on how she felt about the possibility of Jimmerson being released but she did say that she believes with all her heart that he has changed. She has forgiven him for the crime but his future is up in the air.

Jimmerson said, “When Debbie looked at me and she said she forgave me, something left me.”

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