After graphic details surfaced about Steven Avery's alleged involvement in an October 2005 rape and murder, the Wisconsin Innocence Project pulled all photos and nearly every reference off its website to the man who was once a poster boy for the organization.
Having helped free Avery after he spent 18 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, the Innocence Project had photos of Avery posted on its website to publicize its involvement in the landmark decision.
However, last week, more details emerged regarding the incident in which Avery, along with his 16-year-old nephew Brendan Dassey, allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered Teresa Halbach before burning her remains.
"It was out of sensitivity to the Halbach family," co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project John Pray said in a phone interview Sunday. "It's not really the right time to have that out there as a reminder."
Pray added the Wisconsin Innocence Project also removed photos and nearly all references of all previous cases the organization worked on to protect the people involved from wrongful suspicions.
Although Avery was charged with Halbach's rape and murder in November 2005, Pray said it did not occur to anyone within the organization to pull the photos until the graphic details were more recently released.
"The allegations were so horrifying that we thought we should do that," Pray said, adding that the Innocence Project "maybe" should have pulled the photos earlier.
Founded in 1998, the Wisconsin Innocence Project is an organization within the University of Wisconsin Law School that investigates cases where a prisoner may have been wrongfully convicted of a crime.
In the past decade, the Wisconsin Innocence Project helped reverse six verdicts, including that of Chris Ochoa, a UW law student who was imprisoned for 12 years for a murder he did not commit.
Pray said he did not know whether the Avery case would affect future Innocence Project decisions or operations.
"It's something we have to think about," Pray said.
However, Pray said the guiding principles behind the Wisconsin Innocence Project would not change.
"If someone is in prison for something they did not do and we can prove that … it makes sense to correct the decision," Pray said.