The former prosecutor whose office oversaw the Central Park Five case has filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay over her portrayal in the acclaimed miniseries “When They See Us.”
Linda Fairstein is also going after co-writer Attica Locke for depicting her as a racist who wrongfully prosecuted the five Black and brown men accused of raping a white, female jogger in the late 80’s. Each spent years in prison and Donald Trump even called for their execution before the men were later exonerated.
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“In the film series, which Defendants have marketed and promoted as a true story, Defendants depict Ms. Fairstein — using her true name — as a racist, unethical villain who is determined to jail innocent children of color at any cost,” the suit alleges, variety reports.
“Throughout the film series, Ms. Fairstein is portrayed as making statements that she never said, taking actions that she did not take — many of them racist and unethical, if not unlawful — in places that she never was on the days and times depicted,” the suit states. “On a number of occasions, Ms. Fairstein is portrayed using inflammatory language, referring to young men of color as ‘thugs,’ ‘animals’ and ‘bastards,’ that she never used.”
Netflix intends to “vigorously defend” the Ava and the film.
“Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit,” Netflix said in a statement. “We intend to vigorously defend ‘When They See Us’ and Ava DuVernay and Attica Locke, the incredible team behind the series.”
Andrew Miltenberg, Fairstein’s attorney, said in a statement that the acclaimed series “falsely portrays” his client in every scene she appears.
“Most glaringly, the film series falsely portrays Ms. Fairstein as in charge of the investigation and prosecution of the case against The Five, including the development of the prosecution’s theory of the case. In truth, and as detailed in the lawsuit, Ms. Fairstein was responsible for neither aspect of the case,” Miltenberg said. “Ms. Fairstein’s legal action is not intended to re-litigate the guilt or innocence of The Five in the attacks on Ms. Meili or the other victims assaulted in Central Park that night.”
We previously reported… Netflix and DuVernay were hit with a lawsuit last year by a police interrogation company that alleges its “Reid Technique” for interrogating suspects was defamed in the series.
“Defendants intended to incite an audience reaction against Reid for what occurred in the Central Park Jogger Case and for the coercive interrogation tactics that continue to be used today,” the lawsuit states, according to Variety. “Defendants published the statements in ‘When They See Us’ in an effort to cause a condemnation of the Reid Technique.”
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