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The Central Park Five
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Scapegoat
    Accused of raping and assaulting Trisha Meili and assaulting and robbing John Loughlin in New York City's Central Park on the night of April 19, 1989
    Anton McCrary (age 15 in 1989): convicted of assault and rape of Meili and assault and robbery of Loughlin; sentenced to 5-10 years in a youth correctional facility
    Yusef Salaam (15): convicted of assault and rape of Meili and assault and robbery of Loughlin; sentenced to 5-10 years in a youth correctional facility
    Raymond Santana (14): convicted of assault and rape of Meili and assault and robbery of Loughlin; sentenced to 5-10 years in a youth correctional facility
    Kevin Richardson (14): convicted of attempted murder, sodomy and assault of Meili, rioting and robbery of Loughlin; sentenced to 5-10 years in a youth correctional facility
    Korey Wise (16): convicted of sexual abuse and assault of Meili, rioting and assault of Loughlin; sentenced to 5-15 years in prison
    Convictions vacated by the New York Supreme Court at the recommendation of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (December 19, 2002)
    City settled a malicious prosecution and racial discrimination lawsuit for $40 million -- about $1 million per year served by the Five (2014)
    Subjects of Ken Burns' documentary 'The Central Park Five' (2012) and Ava DuVernay's Netflix miniseries 'When They See Us' (2019)
    They confessed.
    Several of them admitted to having committed assaults and robberies other than the two crimes they were tried for.
    Salaam admitted on the stand to having gone to Central Park carrying a 14-inch pipe -- the same type of weapon used to bludgeon Loughlin.
    Two NYC newspapers with a largely African-American readership, the Amsterdam News and the City Sun, violated the media policy of not identifying the victims of sexual assault and released Meili's name in response to the mainstream media publicizing the names of the suspects before they were arraigned.
    Santana was convicted on unrelated charges of possession of crack cocaine (1999).
    Some of the investigators from the case argued that while their convictions relating to the attack on Meili should be overturned, their convictions relating to the assault and robbery of Loughlin should have been allowed to stand.
    None of them had been in trouble with the law previously.
    They were interrogated for as long as seven hours without parents or a lawyer present before making their confessions.
    Their confessions contradicted each other and were frequently inaccurate. For example, only one defendant, Wise, correctly identified where Meili had been raped -- and that was after being taken to the crime scene by police.
    Donald Trump inflamed public opinion by taking out ads in several newspapers calling for a return of the death penalty (May 1, 1989).
    They each earned high school equivalency degrees while in prison.
    None of their DNA matched semen left at the crime scene by Meili's rapist.
    Matias Reyes, a murderer and serial rapist serving a life sentence, confessed to attacking Meili (2002).
    Reyes's DNA matched the semen found at the crime scene.
    Meili had been tied up with her t-shirt in a distinctive manner that Reyes used on his other victims.
    Several of them did volunteer work for the Innocence Project after their release.

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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