A $40 million settlement has been reached for five men who were convicted, and later exonerated, of raping a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989.
The announcement brings the 25 year-long case, known as the Central Park jogger case, and the long-fought civil rights lawsuit to an end.
If you recall, the five defendants — all black or Hispanic and between 14 and 16 years of age at the time — were forced to confess to the rape after lengthy police interrogations. Later, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam recanted and insisted they admitted to the crime under the duress of exhaustion and coercion from police officers.
The teenagers were convicted amid intense media coverage that was racially biased and fueled the “wilding” youths and “wolf pack” fears of New York at the time. They spent between five and 13 years behind bars. Years later, murderer and serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and was implicated with DNA evidence.
The victim, Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old investment banker, nearly died from the attack and was left with no memory of it.
According to Reuters:
The settlement still requires approval from the city’s comptroller and from the federal judge in Manhattan who has overseen the case, Deborah Batts, according to the person familiar with the matter.
As in most cases in which the city settles civil rights claims, the municipal government likely will not admit wrongdoing, the person said.
Jonathan Moore, one of the lawyers for the men, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department also declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
The deal comes six months after Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called for a settlement during his campaign, took office. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, had long resisted settling the case, with city lawyers repeatedly saying the convictions withstood legal scrutiny regardless of whether they were later vacated.
The case came back into the spotlight in recent years, largely through a documentary, “The Central Park Five,” made by the filmmakers Ken Burns; his daughter, Sarah Burns; and her husband, David McMahon.
SOURCE: Reuters | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.