SAN DIEGO (AP) -- An American who served nearly seven years in a Mexican prison on what he says were trumped-up charges returned to the United States after two judges dismissed the cases.
David Cathcart, 59, stepped from a car a few yards north of the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday and hugged his brother and grown sons. "It's over," he said, with his voice breaking and his eyes filling with tears. "It's good to be home."
A Mexican federal judge freed him late Monday after dismissing a heroin possession charge as unproven. Another judge earlier this month cleared him of charges that he molested boys at an orphanage in Ensenada, Mexico, 70 miles south of San Diego.
"I'm very happy to be home and I'm looking forward to getting on with my life," he said after he arrived in San Diego. "Seven years have been taken away from me for nothing."
Cathcart was imprisoned after four boys at the Door of Faith orphanage accused him of molesting them while he was a volunteer. But three of the boys recanted.
Former accuser Efrain Reyes Carrillo, now 22, told the Los Angeles Times "We did not make the accusations voluntarily. I was forced to tell lies about an innocent man."
Cathcart had served on the board of directors of the orphanage and visited there regularly with others from his church, St. Timothy's Roman Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel. He believes the director orchestrated the allegations in 1994 to avoid an audit of U.S. donations to the home.
Cathcart, a travel agent, said he harbored no ill will toward his captors.
"There's a lot of hatred and bitterness in there," he told The Associated Press. "I don't harbor it. It's destructive. It's called hell. But I stayed alive through my strong faith and accepting what I had to do, and making the best of every day of my life."
Cathcart taught English to fellow inmates, was their barber, and said he set an example of someone who "didn't need drugs to get through life."
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