When They See Us: Linda Fairstein admits the Central Park Five never raped Trisha Meili

11 June 2019, 17:49 | Updated: 12 June 2019, 09:28

By Sam Prance

Linda Fairstein is attempting to clear her name in a new Wall Street Journal article about When They See Us, the Central Park Five and Trisha Meili...

Linda Fairstein has admitted that the Central Park Five never raped Trisha Meili following the release of When They See Us.

When They See Us: Over 175,000 people sign petition to ban Linda Fairstein's books

Netflix's When They See Us tells the true story of four boys of colour (Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson) who were racially profiled and wrongly convicted of raping and attacking a White female, jogger (Trisha Meili). Linda Fairstein was the main prosecutor involved in their case and, since the release of When They See Us, she has received huge backlash for imprisoning five innocent men. Now she is attempting to clear her name.

How is Linda Fairstein attempting to clear her name?

When They See Us: Linda Fairstein admits the Central Park Five never raped Trisha Meili
When They See Us: Linda Fairstein admits the Central Park Five never raped Trisha Meili. Picture: Netflix // Paul Hawthorne via Getty Images

In a new op-ed about the drama for The Wall Street Journal, Fairstein claims that When They See Us tells the "false story" of the Central Park Five. She writes that the critically acclaimed, Netflix series is "so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication." She also says that the semen found on Meili's clothing was enough evidence to imprison the five boys, even though it didn't match any of their DNA.

Ironically, in an attempt to defend herself, Fairstein catches herself in a lie. She finally admits that Santana, McCray, Salaam, Wise and Richardson should never have been charged with rape. Fairstein writes: "Mr. Reyes’s confession, DNA match and claim that he acted alone required that the rape charges against the five be vacated." However, she then adds: "I agreed with that decision, and still do".

This isn't true. Up until now, Fairstein has continued to argue that the boys attacked Meili. Speaking to The New Yorker in 2002, she explicitly said: "[Reyes] completed the assault. I don't think there is a question in the minds of anyone present during the interrogation process that these five men were participants, not only in the other attacks that night but in the attack on the jogger.”

After the case in 1989, Fairstein left prosecution and became a successful crime writer, while the boys she imprisoned grew up behind bars. Despite now believing that the Central Park Five deserved to be exonerated, Fairstein has yet to publicly express any remorse for wrongfully imprisoning them. Instead, she seems hellbent on trying to clear her own name.

Before making When They See Us, director Ava DuVernay actually tried to speak with Fairstein. In an interview, with the Daily Beast, DuVernay revealed: "I don’t know if I’ve told anyone this, but she tried to negotiate conditions for her to speak with me, including approvals over the script and some other things. So you know what my answer was to that, and we didn’t talk."

Since the release of When They See Us, 175,000 people have signed a petition for retailers to stop selling Fairstein's books. As it stands, no serious actions have been taken against her. However, Fairstein has stepped down from various boards she represents and Glamour magazine have stripped her of their 1993 Woman of the Year award.

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