When They See Us prosecutor Linda Fairstein responds to Netflix series backlash
7 June 2019, 17:45 | Updated: 7 June 2019, 17:57
The prosecutor at the heart of the Central Park Five case said When They See Us was “misrepresenting the facts in an inflammatory and inaccurate manner”.
Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series, When They See Us, has reignited scrutiny of law enforcement at the heart of a case that unjustly sent five teenage boys to prison in 1990. The "Central Park Five" - Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, and Korey Wise - served prison sentences before DNA evidence proved that another man had actually committed the gruesome attack against jogger Trisha Meili in 1989.
Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor played by Felicity Huffman in When They See Us, has resigned from the board of trustees at Vassar College since the series ignited renewed interest in the case. Now, a statement through her lawyer reveals Linda Fairstein's thoughts on the Netflix series.
According to reporting from the New York Times, Linda Fairstein's lawyer has accused the series of “misrepresenting the facts in an inflammatory and inaccurate manner”. The New York Times also reports that there were threats to take legal action (though it is unlikely that this would be successful, according to the paper).
At the time of the trial, Linda Fairstein was head of the Manhattan District Attorney's sex crimes unit. She is now a well-known author and socialite who has sat on the board of trustees at a number of organisations, including her alma mater, Vassar College.
In When They See Us, Felicity Huffman plays the prosecutor who pushes for a conviction of the five young teens. In the series, much of the evidence against the boys does not fit what law enforcement alleged happened at the time. Despite inconsistencies in the case, coerced confessions meant that the boys were sent to prison for between 6 and 14 years.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Ava DuVerney revealed that she'd been in contact with Fairstein in order to speak about the case.
"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," the director explained.
"So you know what my answer was to that, and we didn’t talk," said DuVernay.