Linda Fairstein, the former New York prosecutor who racially profiled the so-called Central Park Five, says director Ava DuVernay concocted a “basket of lies” about her in the new Netflix Series “When They See Us.”
Fairstein, who was head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan DA’s office in 1990, is catching heat after the Netflix series premiered on May 31, 2019.
“It’s a basket of lies,” Fairstein, 72, told The Daily Beast in reference to DuVernay’s Netflix series.
The series documents the injustices suffered by five teenagers who were unfairly tried and convicted in the controversial Central Park jogger rape case in 1989.
The 28-year-old female jogger named Trisha Meilli was raped and assaulted while jogging through Central Park on the night of April 19, 1989. She was left for dead in the park and remained in a coma for 12 days.
Four Black males and one Hispanic (Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam) were rounded up by police in the park and paraded in front of dozens of news cameras outside the police precinct.
Following a firestorm of negative news coverage around the world, the Central Park Five, including then-16-year-old Antron McCray, pictured with the Rev. Al Sharpton, were convicted in two separate trials in 1990.
The convictions were vacated in 2002 after a convicted rapist and murderer, who was serving a life sentence in prison, confessed to the crime.
A #cancellindafairstein hashtag has been trending on Twitter for days as activists put pressure on book retailers to pull Fairstein’s novels from the selves. More than 40,000 signatures have been collected on a petition.
Fairstein fled social media after her followers flooded her timeline with threats.
The former district attorney continues to defend her prosecution of the boys, including arguing that the “missing attacker” ran with the crowd of males but was never caught.
“Two juries heard that the DNA in and on the jogger’s body was not from any of the 5 – and still they convicted on the theory that the missing attacker, who had run with the crowd of 32 young men who rioted in the park, had not yet been caught,” Fairstein wrote in a July 2018 New York Law Journal article.
But Matias Reyes, who confessed to the crime years later, insisted he was not part of the group of young males “wilding” in the park that night. He said he alone attacked Meilli.
Reyes provided a detailed account of the attack, that were corroborated by DNA evidence.
Still, Fairstein argued that the prosecutors and investigators can’t be blamed because there was no national DNA database until a decade later that would have allowed them to identify the real rapist using the genetic materials collected from other crimes.
(L-R) Bill Keller, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr., Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Ava DuVernay, and Korey Wise at the 2019 Town & Country Philanthropy Summit on May 08, 2019 in New York City.
After winning cash settlements for false arrest from the city, the Central Park Five are still waiting for Fairstein herself to be charged with prosecutorial misconduct.
“Even if it’s 30 years later, she has to pay for her crime,” Raymond Santana, one of the exonerated five, told TMZ.