Revisiting Central Park

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  • Awhile back, I talked about a topic that’s back in the news with the limited release of Ken Burn’s latest documentary, the Central Park Five.

    Over 23 years after the high-profile 1989 rape case of a jogger in New York’s Central Park, fallout from the case continues.

    For those who don’t know: On April 19, 1989, just after 9 pm, Trisha Meili, was jogging alone in Central Park when she was hit on the head with a tree branch, brutally raped, beaten, and left for dead. Fortunately, she survived.

    Within days, five black and Latino teenagers quote-unquote “confessed” to the crime and the public reaction to the vicious rape of a white, Ivy-League professional was huge.

    The media repeatedly described these 14 to 16 year olds as a roving “wolf pack” out “wilding” in the park. Pat Buchanan suggested a public lynching in Central Park of one of the teens as a deterrent to others.

    The five were convicted after being manipulated by police into confessing despite the fact no DNA tests or eyewitnesses tied them to the victim.

    In 2002, after the young men had served lengthy prison terms, convicted serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to committing the crime alone and DNA evidence matched his story.

    In 2003, the convictions were vacated and the five sued, but the case has yet to be settled by the city of New York. In fact, to this day, the NYPD has never admitted to mishandling the case, and the prosecutors whose careers were made by this case have not publicly acknowledged their mistakes.

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