CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Local organizations partnered to pay for the dental care of a recently exonerated man who spent 20 years in prison.
Smile Generation and After Innocence organized a day of service offering free dentistry to those who were wrongfully convicted, like Paul Hurt.
At the Smile Generation Serve Day, Dr. Yael Joseph treated Hurt who needed dental work.
Joseph says that Hurt will need several crowns and root canal treatments after his many years in prison.
In 2002, Hurt was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences for sexually abusing a minor.
In 2015, the accuser took back the accusations in court, but the court system still denied Hurt’s request to be released.
Hurt felt that during his time in prison, he had resigned himself to always having bad teeth, “I wasn’t ever going to be released.”
He was eventually able to get a judge to see his case, according to reporting by our sister station in Louisville.
Then, retired Judge Stephen Mershon wrote former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin a letter saying on behalf of hurt.
“As the sitting judge, I now believe that Mr. Hurt was not guilty and that he poses no danger to society and particularly, none to children,” the letter read.
In August of 2019, Hurt was pardoned by then-governor Bevin.
“It was nothing less than a miracle that Gov. Bevin chose to pardon me,” Hurt said.
His long road to the dentist for a new smile is filling Hurt with gratitude that it is finally a reality.
“It will definitely be a confidence booster to me to be able to smile and not worry about what people think,” he explained.
He is especially excited, “To be able to chew my food because right now I can’t really chew that well.”
The first person Hurt says he is going to show off his smile to is his mom.
“She’s one of the most important people in my life,” Hurt said.