Former city prosecutor Linda Fairstein is giving two thumbs down to Ava DuVernay’s new miniseries about the Central Park Five case.
Fairstein, who’s been hit with a wave of criticism for her handling of that case, slammed DuVernay’s “When They See Us” as an “outright fabrication” that is “full of distortions and falsehoods” in a biting op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal.
“I was one of the supervisors who oversaw the team that prosecuted the teenagers apprehended after that horrific night of violence,” Fairstein wrote. “Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true.”
The highly publicized Central Park Five case of 1989 centered on five teenagers ― Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Korey Wise ― who were wrongfully convicted for the rape of a woman who was jogging in Central Park. Their convictions were dropped in 2002 after another man confessed to the crime and DNA backed up his admission.
Fairstein, 72, wrote in her op-ed that DuVernay’s Netflix series depicts the teens as “being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom” ― all of which she says is not true.
She noted that while she agrees with the rape charges being dropped against them, she contends other charges shouldn’t have been.
“And there was certainly more than enough evidence to support those convictions of first-degree assault, robbery, riot and other charges,” Fairstein wrote.
Fairstein, who is played by Felicity Huffman in the miniseries, began her piece for The Journal by writing that there were more than 30 rioters on the night of the incident, and that the jogger was not the only person attacked.
(top from left) Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, (bottom from left) Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam became known as the “Central Park 5” following their wronful arrests and subsequent trials after Trisha Meili was brutally assaulted and raped during a run in Central Park on April 19, 1989. All were teenagers at the time of the incident, and would go on to spend between seven and 13 years in jail before they were proven innocent by the actual rapist’s confession.(New York City Law Department / )
On April 19, 1989, just after 9 p.m., Trisha Meili was brutally assaulted and raped during a run in Central Park. The attack sent shockwaves through the city and prompted national outrage. Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam, known for causing mischief in the park prior to the incident, were wrongfully arrested for Meili’s rape. Here, an evidence photo released by the New York City Law Department shows a view of the path near the crime scene where victim Trisha Meili, born Patricia Meili, was raped and beaten on April 19, 1989 in Central Park, Manhattan.(New York City Law Department / )
An photo released by the New York City Law Department on July 19, 2018 shows a bloody shirt from the crime scene entered into evidence.(New York City Law Department / )
Another photo released by the New York City Law Department on July 19, 2018 shows an inner shoe sole (white, at left) and a sock (white, at right) at the crime scene in 1989.(New York City Law Department / )
A drag mark with a ruler is seen at the crime scene in this photo released by the New York City Law Department on July 19, 2018.(New York City Law Department)
The op-ed comes days after Fairstein’s relationship with book-publishing company Dutton came to a sudden end without much of an explanation.
On Sunday, the men at the center of the Central Park Five case ― who are now described as The Exonerated Five ― spoke to Oprah Winfrey and blamed Fairstein for what transpired against them, according to Variety. That sit-down is scheduled to be broadcast on Netflix and on Oprah’s OWN network on Wednesday.