AttacksAt 9 p.m. on April 19, 1989, a group of an estimated 30 to 32 teenagers who lived in entered 's at an entrance in , near Central Park North. Some of the group committed several attacks, assaults, and robberies against people who were either walking, biking, or jogging in the northernmost part of the park and near the reservoir, and victims began to report the incidents to police. Within the North Woods, between 105th and 102nd streets, they were reported as attacking several bicyclists, hurling rocks at a cab, and attacking a pedestrian, whom they robbed of his food and beer, and left unconscious. The teenagers roamed south along the park's East Drive and the 97th Street transverse, between 9 and 10 p.m. Police attempted to apprehend suspects after crimes began to be reported between 9 and 10 p.m. At least some of the group traveled further south to the area around the reservoir, where four men jogging were attacked by several youths. Among the victims was John Loughlin, a 40-year-old schoolteacher, who was severely beaten and robbed between 9:40 and 9:50. He was hit in the head with a pipe and stick, knocking him briefly unconscious. At a pre-trial hearing in October 1989, a police officer testified that when Loughlin was found, he was bleeding so badly that he "looked like he was dunked in a bucket of blood". It was not until 1:30 a.m. that night that a female jogger was found in the North Woods area of the park. She had been pulled to the north some 300 feet off the path known as the 102nd Street Crossing; the path of her feet dragged through the grass was marked so clearly that it could be photographed. It was 18" wide. There was no evidence in the grass of footprints of multiple perpetrators. She was brutally beaten, suffering major blood loss and skull fractures; she was later revealed to have been raped. After her discovery, the police increased the intensity of their effort to identify suspects in this attack and took more teenagers into custody. The jogger was not identified for about 24 hours, and it took days for the police to retrace her movements of that night. By the time of the trial of the first three suspects in June 1990, '' '' characterized the attack on the jogger as "one of the most widely publicized crimes of the 1980s".
Assault on Trisha MeiliTrisha Meili was going for a regular run in Central Park shortly before 9 p.m. While jogging in the park, she was knocked down, dragged nearly off the roadway, and violently assaulted. She was raped and beaten almost to death. About four hours later at 1:30 am, she was found naked, gagged, and tied, and covered in mud and blood, in a shallow ravine in a wooded area of the park about 300 feet north of the path called the 102nd Street Crossing. The first policeman who saw her said: "She was beaten as badly as anybody I've ever seen beaten. She looked like she was tortured." Meili was so badly injured that she was in a coma for 12 days. She suffered severe , severe brain damage, severe , of 75–80 percent of her blood, and .Carpenter, Mackenzie, (March 29, 2003)
Earlier violent incidents that nightAs identified by the Morgenthau report and ''The New York Times'' in a 2002 review of the case, several acts of violence were perpetrated that night by a group of more than 30 teenagers. These were: * Michael Vigna, a competitive bike rider hassled about 9:05 p.m. by the group, one of whom tried to punch him. * Antonio Diaz, a 52-year-old man walking in the park near 105th Street, was knocked to the ground by teenagers about 9:15 p.m., who stole his bag of food and bottle of beer. He was left unconscious but soon found by a policeman. * Gerald Malone and Patricia Dean, riding on a tandem bike, were attacked on East Drive south of 102nd Street about 9:15 p.m. by boys who tried to stop them and grab Dean; the couple called police after reaching a call box. The remaining victims were attacked by members of the large group while jogging near the reservoir: * David Lewis, banker, attacked and robbed about 9:25–9:40 * Robert Garner, attacked about 9:30 p.m. * David Good, attacked about 9:47 p.m. * John Loughlin, the 40-year-old teacher, severely beaten and kicked about 9:40–9:50 p.m. near the reservoir and left unconscious. He was also robbed of a and other items. Three of the victims were black or Hispanic, like most of the suspects, complicating any narrative attributing the attacks solely to racial factors.
Trisha MeiliPatricia Ellen Meili was born on June 24, 1960 in , and raised in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. She is the daughter and youngest of three children of John Meili, a senior manager, and his wife Jean, a school board member. She attended , graduating in 1978. Meili was a economics major at , where she received a in 1982. The chairman of Wellesley's economics department said: "She was brilliant, probably one of the top four or five students of the decade." In 1986, she earned an from and an in finance from the . She worked from the summer of 1986 until the attack as an associate and then a vice president in the corporate finance department and energy group of , an . Meili lived on East 83rd Street between and avenues in the Yorkville section of the of Manhattan. At the time of the attack, she was 28 years old. In most media accounts of the incident at that time, Meili was simply referred to as the "Central Park Jogger", but two local TV stations violated the media policy of not publicly identifying the victims of sex crimes and released her name in the days immediately following the attack. Two newspapers aimed at the African-American community—'' The City Sun'' and the '' ''—and the black-owned station continued to cover the case as it progressed. Their editors said this was in response to the media having publicized the names and personal information about the five suspects, who were all minors before they were arraigned. The ''Open Line'' hosts on were credited with helping continue to cover the case until the convicted youths were cleared in 2002 of the crime. In 2003, Meili publicly revealed her identity as the jogger in her memoir “I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility.”
Arrests and investigation
Arrests of youthsThe police were dispatched at 9:30 pm and responded with scooters and unmarked cars. Through the night, they apprehended about 20 teenagers. They took custody of Raymond Santana, 14; and Kevin Richardson, 14; along with three other teenagers at approximately 10:15 pm on and 102nd Street. Steven Lopez, 14, was arrested with this group within an hour of the several attacks that were first reported to police. He was also interrogated. The severely beaten Meili was not found until 1:30 a.m. on April 20. Her discovery increased the urgency of police efforts to apprehend suspects. Antron McCray, 15; Yusef Salaam, 15; and Korey Wise (then known as Kharey Wise), 16, were brought in for questioning later that day (April 20), after having been identified by other youths in the large group as participants in or present at some of the attacks on other victims. Korey Wise said he had not been involved, and accompanied Salaam because they were friends. These were the six suspects indicted for the attack on the female jogger (later identified as Meili). They took into custody 14 or more other suspects over the next few days and arrested a total of ten suspects who were ultimately tried for the attacks. Among them were four and two teenagers who were indicted on May 10 on charges of assault, robbery, riot, rape, sexual abuse, and the attempted murders of Meili and an unrelated man, John Loughlin. The police arrested additional suspects over 48 hours after the night of April 19 and interrogated numerous others. Among these was Clarence Thomas, 14, who was arrested on April 21, 1989, on charges related to the rape of the female jogger. After further investigation, he was never indicted, and all charges were dismissed against him on October 31, 1989. Also arrested in this period on charges of attacks against other persons in the park, and later indicted, was Jermaine Robinson, 15; Antonio Montalvo, 18; and Orlando Escobar, 16. The videotaped confessions started on April 21, after the detectives finished unrecorded interrogations during which the five suspects were in custody for at least seven hours. Santana, McCray, and Richardson made video statements in the presence of parents. Wise made several statements unaccompanied by any parent, guardian or counsel. Lopez was interviewed on videotape in the presence of his parents on April 21, 1989, beginning at 3:30 a.m. He named others of the group by first names in the group attacks on other persons but denied any knowledge of the female jogger. None of the six had defense attorneys during the interrogations or videotape process. When taken into custody, Salaam told the police he was 16 years old and showed them identification to that effect. If a suspect had reached 16 years of age, his parents or guardians no longer had a right to accompany him during police questioning, or to refuse to permit him to answer any questions. After Salaam's mother arrived at the station, she insisted that she wanted a lawyer for her son, and the police stopped the questioning. He neither made a videotape nor signed the earlier written statement, but the court ruled to accept it as evidence before his trial. Salaam allegedly made verbal admissions to the police. He confessed to being present at the rape only after the detective falsely told him that fingerprints had been found on the victim's clothing and if his matched, he would be charged with rape. He said years later, "I would hear them beating up Korey Wise in the next room", and "they would come and look at me and say: 'You realize you're next.' The fear made me feel really like I was not going to be able to make it out." The prosecutor planned to try the defendants in two groups and then scheduled the sixth defendant to be tried last. The latter pleaded guilty in January 1991 on lesser charges and received a reduced sentence. Prosecution of the five remaining defendants—Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam—in the rape and assault case was based primarily on confessions which they had made after lengthy police interrogations. None of the defendants had legal counsel during questioning. Many consider the interrogation techniques to have been coercive and they have been subject to wide criticism. Within weeks, they each withdrew their confessions, pleaded not guilty, and refused s on the rape and assault charges. None of the suspects' DNA matched the collected from the crime scene: two semen samples that both belonged to one unidentified man. No substantive physical evidence connected any of the five teenagers to the rape scene, but each was convicted in 1990 of related assault and other charges. Subsequently, known as the Central Park Five, they received sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years. Four of the defendants appealed their convictions, but these were affirmed by appellate courts. The four juvenile defendants served 6–7 years each; the 16-year-old was tried and sentenced as an adult and served 13 years in an adult prison. The five other defendants, indicted for assaults of other victims, pleaded guilty to reduced charges and received less severe sentences.
April 21 press conference and media coverageOn April 21, senior police investigators held a press conference to announce having apprehended about 20 suspects in the attacks of a total of nine people in Central Park two nights before and began to offer their theory of the attack and rape of the female jogger. Her name was withheld as a victim of a sex crime. The police said up to 12 youths were believed to have attacked the jogger. The main suspects were a sub-group within the loose gang of 30 to 32 teenagers who had assaulted strangers in the park as part of an activity that the police said the teenagers referred to as "wilding". New York City senior detectives said the term was used by the suspects when describing their actions to police. The police described the attacks as "random" and "motiveless", saying they had "terrorized" people in the park. This account of the term "wilding" was soon disputed by investigative reporter , who said that it originated in a police detective's misunderstanding of the suspects' use of the phrase "doing the wild thing", lyrics from rapper 's hit song " Wild Thing".Cooper, Barry Michael (May 9, 1989) "The Central Park Rape" in '' There was massive media coverage of the conference, with the rape and beating of the female jogger especially recounted in dramatic, inflammatory language. Normal police procedures stipulated that the names of criminal suspects under the age of 16 were to be withheld from the media and the public. But this policy was ignored when the names of the arrested juveniles were released to the press before any of them had been formally ''. or . For example, the name of Kharey Wise (he later adopted the use of Korey as his first name) was published in an April 25, 1989 article in the '' '' about the attack on the female jogger. By that time, more information had been published about the primary suspects in the rape, who did not seem to satisfy typical profiles of perpetrators. Common factors had been ruled out. Reporters had found that some came from stable, financially secure families; police had ruled out drugs or major robbery, and most had no criminal records. On April 26, 1989, '' '' published a cautionary editorial against the use of labels and questioning why such "well-adjusted youngsters" could have committed such a "savage" crime. After the major media's decisions to print the names, photos, and addresses of the juvenile suspects, they and their families received serious threats. Other residents living at the Schomburg Plaza, where four suspects lived, were also threatened. Because of this, editors of '' The City Sun'' and the '' '' chose to use Meili's name in their continuing coverage of the events. Reverend Calvin O. Butts of the in , who came to support the five suspects, said to ''The New York Times'', "The first thing you do in the United States of America when a white woman is raped is round up a bunch of black youths, and I think that's what happened here." On May 1, 1989, , then a real estate magnate, called for the return of the for murder in full-page advertisements published in all four of the city's major newspapers. Trump said he wanted the "criminals of every age ... to be afraid". The advertisement, which cost an estimated , said, in part,
Mayor Koch has stated that hate and rancor should be removed from our hearts. I do not think so. I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer ... Yes, Mayor Koch, I want to hate these murderers and I always will. ... How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!According to a contemporaneous article in the , the ad was "widely condemned,” including by then-Mayor Koch. Colin Moore, one of the attorneys defending one of the Central Park defendants, said that the ad "proved that anything is possible in America," and that "even a fool can become a multi-millionaire." According to defendant Yusef Salaam, quoted in a February 2016 article in '' '', Trump "was the fire starter" in 1989, as "common citizens were being manipulated and swayed into believing that we were guilty." Salaam said his family received death threats after papers ran Trump's full-page ad urging the death penalty.
May 4, 1989* Michael Briscoe, 17, was initially arrested for the rape of the female jogger, but his indictment was for riot and assault related to the attack of David Lewis, one of the four male joggers near the reservoir. In a plea deal arranged in June 1990, he pleaded guilty to assault and was immediately sentenced to a year in prison, with credit for time served. * Jermaine Robinson, 15, was indicted on multiple counts of robbery and assault in the attacks on Lewis and John Loughlin, another jogger near the reservoir. In a plea deal, he pleaded guilty on October 5, 1989, to the robbery of Loughlin and was sentenced to a year in a juvenile facility.
May 10, 1989Six youths were indicted with attempted murder and other charges in the attack on and rape of the female jogger, and additional charges related to the attack of David Lewis, the attack and robbery of John Loughlin, and riot: * Steve Lopez, 14, * Antron McCray, 15 * Kevin Richardson, 14, * Yusef Salaam, 15, * Raymond Santana, 14, * Korey Wise, 16. Each of the youths pleaded "Not guilty." The families of Lopez, Richardson, and Salaam were able to make the $25,000 bail imposed by the court. The two other youths under 16 were returned to a juvenile facility to be held there until trial. Classified as an adult at 16, Korey Wise was separated from the others from the first and held in an adult jail at until trial. Four of the six youths who were indicted for the rape lived at the Schomburg Plaza, 1309 Fifth Avenue, at the northeast corner of Central Park near 110th Street; two lived further north of there. The ones at Schomburg included friends Salaam and Wise, who lived in the northwest tower, and Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez who lived elsewhere in the complex. They had seen each other in the neighborhood. The Schomburg was a large, mixed-income complex with two 35-story towers and an associated multi-story rectangular building. Designed for families, the complex was built in 1974 and was partially subsidized by the city and federal government; it had 600 households, in apartments ranging in size from studios to five bedrooms.
January 10, 1990* Orlando Escobar, 16, was indicted for three counts of robbery, two counts of assault, and one count of riot-related to the attack on John Loughlin. In a plea deal, he pleaded guilty on March 14, 1991, to attempted robbery in second degree, and was sentenced to 6 months' incarceration and 4½ years' probation. * Antonio Montalvo, 18, was charged with two counts of robbery and one of assault, related to the attack on Antonio Diaz. In a plea deal, he pleaded guilty on January 29, 1991, to a robbery in second degree, and was sentenced to 1 year.
Pretrial evidenceFour of the five had confessed to police about other attacks in the park in other areas on the night of April 19, including the assault and robbery of John Loughlin, to which they said they were witnesses or participants. Salaam's unsigned statement also covered the range of actions and crimes. According to ''The New York Times'', their accounts of these other attacks were accurate, unlike their confessions to the assault on the jogger. Only Wise made any statement about the different times and locations of the jogger attack, and detectives had taken him to the park to the crime scene before he made his videotaped confession. Each of the suspects had made different errors in time and place about the jogger attack in their confessions, with most placing it near the reservoir. None of the five said that he had raped the jogger, but each confessed to having been an accomplice to the rape. Each youth said that he had only helped restrain the jogger, or touched her, while one or more others had raped her. Their confessions varied as to who they identified as having participated in the rape, including naming several youths who were never questioned. In his untaped confession, Salaam claimed to have struck the jogger with a pipe at the beginning of the incident. Although four suspects (all except Salaam) confesse
TrialsIn 1990 the six suspects (including Steve Lopez) indicted in the attack on the female jogger and other crimes were scheduled for trial. The prosecution arranged to try the six defendants in the Meili case in two separate groups. This enabled them to control the order in which certain evidence would be introduced to the court. Lopez was scheduled to be tried in January 1991, after the two other groups of defendants in the rape and assault case. He had denied any knowledge of the rape in his videotaped confession, but was implicated by other defendants' statements. Like the five others, he was also indicted on charges related to the attack and robbery of Loughlin.
First trialIn the first trial, which began June 25 and ended on August 18, 1990, defendants Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana were tried. Each of the teenagers had his own defense counsel. The jury consisted of four white Americans, four black Americans, three Hispanic Americans, and one Asian American. Meili testified at the trial, but her identity was not given to the court. None of the three defense attorneys cross-examined her. The jury deliberated for 10 days before rendering its verdict on August 18. Each of the three youths was acquitted of attempted murder, but convicted of assault and rape of the female jogger, and convicted of assault and robbery of John Loughlin, a male jogger who was badly beaten that night in Central Park. Salaam and McCray were 15 years old, and Santana 14 years old, at the time of the crime. As such, they were each sentenced by Judge Thomas B. Galligan to the maximum allowed for juveniles, 5–10 years each in a youth correctional facility.
Second trialThe second trial, of Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise, began October 22, 1990 and also lasted about two months, ending in December. Kevin Richardson, 14 years old at the time of the crime, had been free on $25,000 bail before the trial. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer had a lengthy opening statement, and Wise broke down at the defense table after it, weeping and shouting that she had lied. He was removed temporarily from the courtroom. Richardson's defense counsel made a motion for a mistrial, because of the potential effect on the jury, but the judge rejected it. The trial proceeded. The defense attorneys noted that each youth had limited intellectual ability and said that neither was capable of preparing the written statements or videotaped confessions submitted by the prosecution as evidence. They contended that the confessions had been coerced from youths vulnerable to pressure because of their age and their intellectual capacity. Meili testified again at this trial; again, her name was not given in court. This time one of the defense counsels, Wise's lawyer, cross-examined her. She later said in an interview on '' '': "I'll tell you what—I didn't feel wonderful about the boys' defense attorneys, especially the one who cross-examined me. He was right in front of my face and, in essence, calling me a slut by asking questions like 'When's the last time you had sex with your boyfriend?'" Wise's lawyer had also asked her whether she had ever been assaulted by men in her life, suggested that a man she knew may have attacked her, and implied that her injuries were not as severe as they had been presented. Richardson was the only one of the five defendants to be convicted of attempted murder of Meili, in addition to sodomy and assault of her, and robbery and riot in the attack on John Loughlin, another jogger in the park. He was sentenced to 5–10 years in a juvenile facility. Korey Wise, 16 years old at the time of the crime, was acquitted of rape and attempted murder. At trial, Melody Jackson—the sister of one of Wise's friends—testified that while incarcerated in the he had told her that he had restrained and fondled the jogger. Wise was convicted of lesser charges of sexual abuse, assault, and riot in the attack on the female jogger and on Loughlin. Because of his age and the violent nature of the felony charge, he was tried and sentenced as an adult, receiving 5–15 years in adult prison. After the verdict, Wise shouted at the prosecutor: "You're going to pay for this. Jesus is going to get you. You made this up." Jurors who agreed to interviews after the trials said that they were not convinced by the youths' confessions, but were impressed by the introduced by the prosecutors: semen, grass, dirt, and two hairs described as "consistent with" the victim's hair that were recovered from Richardson's underpants. According to an FBI expert who gave evidence at the trial, all five defendants could be excluded as being the man who had left the semen samples inside Meili and on a sock. In total, 14 men were tested, including the defendants and Meili's former boyfriend, and all were excluded. The semen belonged to another, unidentified male. Years later, more advanced DNA testing also revealed that the hairs in Richardson's clothes did not match the victim.
Sentencing and appealsAfter the guilty verdicts, the judge sentenced the defendants to the maximum for the charges and their ages. The four youths under 16 were sentenced to 5–10 years each. They had been held in a juvenile facility since their arrest. Wise at 16 was tried and sentenced as an adult because of the nature of the violent felony charges against him, under the Juvenile Offender Law of 1978. He was sentenced to 5–15 years. Four of the five youths appealed their convictions in the rape case the following year, but Santana did not appeal. Each of the convictions was upheld. The sentences each of them served is as follows: * Yusef Salaam served 6 years and 8 months in juvenile detention from 1990 to 1996 and was released on parole. * Raymond Santana served 6 years and 8 months in juvenile detention from 1990 to 1996 and was released on parole. In 1998, he violated his parole and was sentenced to 3½–7 years' prison on drug charges. He was released and exonerated in 2002. * Kevin Richardson served 7 years in juvenile detention from 1990 to 1997 and was released on parole. * Antron McCray was sentenced to 5–10 years in juvenile detention. He served 6 years from 1990 to 1996 and was released on parole. * Korey Wise was sentenced to 6–15 years in prison on sexual abuse, assault and riot. He served 13 years and 8 months in multiple state prisons: Rikers' Island Prison in 1990, Attica Correctional Facility in 1991, Wende State Penitentiary in 1993 and Auburn State Correctional Facility in 2001. In this prison, Wise met Matias Reyes, who was later found to have had actually assaulted and raped Meili. Reyes confessed and Wise was released in 2002. On appeal, Salaam's attorneys charged that he had been held by police without access to parents or guardians. The majority appellate court decision upheld his conviction, noting that Salaam had initially lied to police about his age, claiming to be 16 and backing up his claim with a forged transit pass that, falsely, indicated that he was 16. This was the age at which a suspect could be questioned without a parent or guardian present. When Salaam informed police of his true age, they allowed his mother entry to the interrogation room.
Biases affecting the convictionsIn a 2016 ''Guardian'' article, defense counsel William Warren was reported saying that he thought Trump's ads in 1989 had played a role in securing conviction by the juries, saying that "he poisoned the minds of many people who lived in New York City and who, rightfully, had a natural affinity for the victim." He noted, "Notwithstanding the jurors' assertions that they could be fair and impartial, some of them or their families, who naturally have influence, had to be affected by the inflammatory rhetoric in the ads." In 2019 ''Time'' magazine also assessed Trump's ads in 1989 as having adversely affected the case for the defendants. In a 1991 '' '' article, which was the first mainstream piece arguing that the Five's convictions had been wrongful, suggested the verdicts stemmed from a cultural crisis, writing that "So fixed were the emotions provoked by this case that the idea that there could have been, for even one juror, even a moment's doubt in the state's case… seemed, to many in the city, bewildering, almost unthinkable: the attack on the jogger had by then passed into narrative, and the narrative was ... about what was wrong with the city and about its solution".
January 1991 plea bargain for LopezAlthough Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer had said she would not accept a plea deal for any of the defendants indicted in the rape case, she did come to agreement with Steve Lopez and his attorney in the court on January 30, 1991, prior to a new jury being selected for his trial. He was considered the final of the six defendants in the jogger trial. Because Lopez had not acknowledged participating at all in the rape in his statement to police, and prosecution witnesses had withdrawn from testifying, based on what they said was fear of self-recrimination or "fear of their own safety", according to Lederer, the prosecution's case was extremely weak. Although some of the five defendants who had been convicted had accused Lopez in their statements of the most severe violence against the jogger, these could not be used against him because of their convictions. After agreeing to the plea deal, Judge Galligan allowed Lopez to remain free on $25,000 bail until sentencing. He was sentenced in March 1991 to 1½ to 4½ years, after pleading guilty to the mugging of jogger John Loughlin. Because Lopez was younger than 16 at the time of the crime, he was sentenced to serve his time in a juvenile facility.
Serving timeThe four youngest of the five convicted defendants each served between six and seven years in juvenile facilities. Richardson, Salaam, and Santana attended classes. Each earned a and also completed an while there. Richardson and Salaam were released in 1997. Afterward Salaam talked about how important family was. He was part of an Islamic community and served as a spiritual leader at his youth facility, but talked about how important his mother's visits had been. He was held at a juvenile facility in upstate New York about five miles from the Canadian border and hours from New York City, but she came to see him three times a week. Wise had to serve all of his time in adult prison, and encountered so much personal violence that he asked to stay in isolation for extended periods. He was held at four different prisons, having asked for transfers in the hope of improving his situation. He was released in August 2002, the last of the five men to leave prison. Through this period, each of the five continued to maintain their innocence in the rape and attack of Meili, including at hearings before parole boards. While they acknowledged "witnessing or participating in other wrongdoing" in the park, they each maintained innocence in the attack of Meili.
Convictions vacated in 2002
AssailantIn 2001, convicted serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes was serving a in New York state. He had never been identified as a suspect in the Central Park attack on Meili, although he had been at large at the time. Reyes was believed to have raped another woman in the same area of the park during the day on April 17, two days before the attack on Meili. Initially the Meili case was investigated as a homicide, and the April 17 rape was investigated as a rape assault, which resulted in a lack of comparison of the recovered in the two cases. The NYPD did not have a DNA database until 1994; after that, detectives and prosecutors had access to common information about DNA from evidence and taken from suspects in certain crimes. During the summer of 1989, Reyes raped four more women, killing one, and was interrupted after robbing a fifth. In 2001 Reyes met Wise when they were held at the in upstate New York. That year, Reyes informed a corrections officer that he had d Meili. In 2002, Reyes told officials that on the night of April 19, 1989, he had assaulted and raped the female jogger. He was 17 years old at the time of the assault and said that he had committed it alone. He also said that he had intended to burglarize the victim's apartment. Reyes was then working at an East Harlem convenience store on and 102nd Street, and living in a van on the street. District Attorney 's office was notified of the confession in 2002. Morgenthau appointed a team led by Assistant District Attorneys Nancy Ryan and Peter Casolaro to investigate the case, based on Reyes's confession and a review of evidence. Reyes provided officials with a detailed account of the attack, details of which were corroborated by other evidence which the police held. In addition, his DNA matched the DNA evidence at the scene, confirming that he was the sole source of the found in and on the victim "to a factor of one in 6,000,000,000 people". Reyes' DNA matched the semen found on Meili, and he provided other confirmatory . In announcing these facts, Morgenthau also said that the perpetrator had tied up Meili with her T-shirt in a distinctive fashion that Reyes used again on later victims in crimes for which he was convicted. Based on interviews and other evidence, the team believed that Reyes had acted alone: The rape appeared to have taken place in the North Woods area after the main body of the thirty teenagers had moved well to the south, and the timeline reconstruction of events made it unlikely that he was joined by any of the defendants. In addition, Reyes was not known to have been associated with any of the six indicted defendants. He lived at 102nd Street, in what locals considered another neighborhood. None of the six defendants in the rape mentioned him by name in association with the rape. Reyes' confession occurred after the had passed and the Central Park Five had already served their sentences. Reyes claimed he came forward because "it was the right thing to do". At the time of his confession, Reyes had been convicted and sentenced to life in state prison for raping and robbing four other women in the summer of 1989, murdering one of them and robbing another. In a plea deal, he pleaded guilty to the top counts in each of the five cases on November 1, 1991. DNA analysis of the strands of hair found on the clothing of two of the defendants, conducted with advanced technology not available at the time of their trial, established that the hair did not belong to the victim, despite what the prosecution had testified to at trial. Based on the newly discovered evidence, each of the five men who had been convicted of charges related to the rape of Meili filed motions to have their convictions set aside and for the court "to grant whatever further relief may be just and proper." After an investigation into the defendants' innocence was conducted in 2002 by , District Attorney for New York County, the city withdrew all charges against the men, and the defendants' sentences were vacated. In 2003, the five men sued the for , , and ; they reached a $41 million settlement with the city government in 2013, and an additional $3.9 million in monetary compensation from the state in 2016.
Convictions vacatedIn late 2002, as a result of his team's review, the confession by Reyes, and DNA testing that confirmed Reyes was the sole source of semen, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recommended vacating the convictions of the five defendants who had been convicted and sentenced to prison. The DA's office questioned the veracity of the confessions, pointing to the many inconsistencies between them and their lack of correspondence to established facts. Nancy Ryan, an ADA in Morgenthau's office, filed an affirmation supporting motions by the defendants to vacate their convictions in December, 2002:
A comparison of the statements reveals troubling discrepancies. ... The accounts given by the five defendants differed from one another on the specific details of virtually every major aspect of the crime—who initiated the attack, who knocked the victim down, who undressed her, who struck her, who held her, who raped her, what weapons were used in the course of the assault, and when in the sequence of events the attack took place. ... In many other respects the defendants' statements were not corroborated by, consistent with, or explanatory of objective, independent evidence. And some of what they said was simply contrary to established fact.In addition to the confessions, the filing noted that a "reconstruction of the events in the park has bared a significant conflict, one that was hinted at but not explored in depth at the trials: at the time the jogger was believed to have been attacked, the teenagers were said to be involved—either as spectators or participants—in muggings elsewhere in the park." Ryan continued: "Ultimately, there proved to be no physical or forensic evidence recovered at the scene or from the person or effects of the victim which connected the defendants to the attack on the jogger, or could establish how many perpetrators participated." In light of the "extraordinary circumstances" of the case, the affirmation further recommended that the court also vacate the convictions for the other crimes, including robbery and assault, to which the defendants had confessed. Given that the defendants' confessions to the other crimes were made at the same time and in the same statements as those related to the attack on Meili, the DA's office argued that, had the newly discovered evidence been available at the original trials, it could have caused juries to question the defendants' confessions in those crimes as well. The DA's recommendation to vacate the convictions was, and continues to be strongly opposed by lead detectives on the case and other members of the police department. Police Commissioner complained at the time that Morgenthau's staff had denied his detectives access to "important evidence" needed to conduct a thorough investigation. , who directed the original prosecution, agreed with the decision to vacate the rape charges but said the separate assault charges should have remained. Morgenthau would later express regret assigning the case to Fairstein, saying "I had complete confidence in Linda Fairstein. Turned out to be misplaced. But we rectified it." The five defendants' convictions were vacated by Justice Charles J. Tejada on December 19, 2002. As Morgenthau recommended, Tejada's order vacated the convictions for all the crimes of which the defendants had been convicted. All five of the defendants had completed their prison sentences at the time of Tejada's order; their names were cleared in relation to this case. This also enabled them being removed from New York State's . In addition to having had difficulty getting employment or renting housing, as registered offenders, they had been required to report to authorities in person every three months. The city government also withdrew all charges against the men. Meili later commented that she wished the matter would have been retried, rather than settled out of court, and that she believed her attack was not the result of a single person.
AftermathLawyers for the five defendants repeated their assessment that Trump's advertisements in 1989 had inflamed public opinion about the case. After Reyes confessed to the crime and said he acted alone, defense counselor Michael W. Warren said, "I think Donald Trump at the very least owes a real apology to this community and to the young men and their families." Protests were held outside in October 2002 with protestors chanting, "Trump is a chump!" Trump did not apologize.
Armstrong ReportFollowing these events, in 2002, commissioned a panel to review the case, "To determine whether the new evidence indicated that police supervisors or officers acted improperly or incorrectly, and to determine whether police policy or procedures needed to be changed as a result of the Central Park jogger case." The panel was chaired by attorney Michael F. Armstrong, the former chief counsel to the , which in 1972 had documented widespread corruption in the NYPD. Two other attorneys were included: Jules Martin, a former police officer and now Vice President; and Stephen Hammerman, deputy police commissioner for legal affairs.Robert D. McFadden (January 28, 2003)
We believe the inconsistencies contained in the various statements were not such as to destroy their reliability. On the other hand, there was a general consistency that ran through the defendants' descriptions of the attack on the female jogger: she was knocked down on the road, dragged into the woods, hit and molested by several defendants, sexually abused by some while others held her arms and legs, and left semiconscious in a state of undress.
Lawsuits against New York CityIn 2003, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr., and Antron McCray sued the for , , and . The other two defendants later joined the lawsuit. Under 's mayoral administration, the City refused to pursue a settlement for the lawsuits based on a conclusion that the defendants had had a fair trial. Speaking at a news conference in 2002, spoke of his confidence regarding the actions of the .
"The charges against the plaintiffs and other youths were based on abundant pretrial hearings and at two lengthy s... Nothing unearthed since the trials, including Matias Reyes's connection to the attack on the jogger, changes that fact."After a change in , including s that withstood intense scrutiny, in full and fair , with the of Mayor (who had run on a campaign promise to resolve the matter), the settled in 2014 with the five s for $41 million. At a press conference in 2014, de Blasio made a public statement about the settlements.
"An injustice was done and we have a moral obligation to respond to that injustice...I think that the way we've proceeded wasIn 2016, the five men received an an understanding that that had to be rectified, in a way that made sense and a way that was mindful and careful, but I think we're on the right track...And I think the moral issue is quite clear and obviously was made clear by the court decisions in recent years." of $3.9 million against the for additional damages caused by the economic and emotional devastation caused by their .The original lawsuit had requested $51 million in addition to the previously awarded $41 million.
SettlementsUnder newly elected Mayor , New York City announced a settlement in June 2014 in the case for about $40 million. Santana, Salaam, McCray, and Richardson each received around $7.1 million from the city for their years in prison, while Wise received $12.2 million because he had served six additional years. The city did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement. The settlement averaged roughly $1 million for each year of imprisonment that each of the men had served. As of December 2014, the five men were pursuing an additional $52 million in damages from New York State in the , before Judge Alan Marin. Speaking of the second suit, against the state, Santana said: "When you have a person who has been exonerated of a crime, the city provides no services to transition him back to society. The only thing left is something like this—so you can receive some type of money so you can survive." They received a total settlement of $3.9 million from the state in 2016, with varying amounts related to the period of time that each man had served in prison.
Trisha Meili publishes bookMeili returned to work at the investment bank. In April 2003, Meili confirmed her identity to the media when she published a memoir entitled ''I Am the Central Park Jogger''. She began a career as an inspirational speaker. She also works with victims of sexual assault and brain injury in the sexual assault and violence intervention program. She had resumed jogging in 1989 three or four months after the attack, and over the years added a variety of other exercise and yoga practice. She continues to manifest some after-effects of the assault, including .
Settlement and exonerations disputedIn 2014, after New York City had settled the wrongful conviction suit, some figures returned to the media to dispute the court's 2002 decision to vacate the convictions. Also retired New York City detective Edward Conlon, who had been involved with the case, in an article published in October 2014 in ''The Daily Beast'', quoted incriminatory statements allegedly made by some of the youths after they had been taken into custody by police in April 1989. Similarly, two doctors who had treated Meili after the attack said in 2014, after the settlement, that some of her injuries appeared to be inconsistent with Reyes's claim that he had acted alone. But a forensic pathologist who testified at the 1990 trial said that it was impossible to tell from the victim's injuries how many people had participated in the assault, as did New York City's chief medical examiner in 2002. Meili, who had no memory of what happened, said at the time of the settlement that she believed there had been more than one attacker and expressed her regret that the case had been settled. Donald Trump also returned to the media, writing a 2014 op-ed, opinion article for the New York ''New York Daily News, ''Daily News''''. He said the settlement was "a disgrace", and that the men were likely guilty: "Settling doesn't mean innocence. ... Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels." During his Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign, 2016 presidential campaign, Trump again said that the Central Park Five were guilty and that their convictions should not have been vacated. The men of the Central Park Five criticized Trump at the time for his statement, stating they had false confession, falsely confessed under police coercion. Other critics included U.S. Senator John McCain, who said that Trump's responses were "outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case." He cited this as among his reasons to retract his endorsement of the candidate. In June 2019 Trump stated he would not apologize, saying the Central Park 5 "admitted their guilt."
Legislative and other justice reformsBecause of the great publicity surrounding the case, the exoneration of the Central Park Five highlighted the issue of . The issue of false confessions has become a major topic of study and efforts at criminal justice reform, particularly for juveniles. Juveniles have been found to make false confessions and guilty pleas at a much higher rate than adults. Advances in DNA analysis and the work of non-profit groups such as the Innocence Project have resulted in 343 people being exonerated of their crimes from as of July 31, 2016 due to DNA testing. This process has revealed the strong role of false confessions in wrongful convictions. According to a 2016 study by Craig J. Trocino, director of the Miami Law Innocence Clinic, 27 percent of those persons had "originally confessed to their crimes." Members of the Five have been among activists who have advocated for videotaped interrogations and related reforms to try to prevent false confessions. Since 1989, New York and some 24 other states have passed laws requiring "electronic records of full interrogations". In some cases, this requirement is limited to certain types of crimes.
Lives of the men after vacated judgmentAntron McCray was the first to move away from New York. He is married, has six children, and lives and works in Georgia. Kevin Richardson is married and lives with his family in New Jersey. According to the Innocence Project, he has acted as an advocate with Santana and Salaam to reform New York State's criminal justice practices, advocating methods to prevent false confessions and eyewitness misidentifications. Among their goals was required videotaping of interrogations by law enforcement; such a law was passed by the New York State legislature and went into effect on April 1, 2018. Yusef Salaam has been an advocate for reform in the criminal justice system and prisons, particularly for juveniles. He has spoken against practices leading to false confessions and eyewitness misidentifications, which can lead to wrongful convictions. He also works as a motivational speaker. Living in Georgia, he is married with ten children. He serves as a board member of the Innocence Project. As noted, Salaam was an advocate for the law passed in New York in 2018 requiring videotaping of accused subjects in all custodial interrogations for serious crimes. In 2016, he received a President's Call to Service Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama. Raymond Santana had been out of prison for six months before he was found guilty of possessing of crack cocaine in 1998 and reincarcerated for a term of 3.5 to 7 years. He was released in 2002 when the prosecutor, agreeing that his sentence had been higher due to his subsequently vacated conviction for raping Meili, reduced it to the 18-48 months that would typically have been given to a first-time offender. He currently lives in Georgia, not far from McCray. He serves as a criminal justice advocate with the Innocence Project and spoke in New York to audiences with Richardson and Salaam to advocate passage of the New York State justice reform law that passed in 2017. He has also appeared with other involved men in presentations at local schools and colleges. In 2018 he started a clothing company, Park Madison NYC, named for the avenues near his former home in New York. Some of his merchandise commemorates the men of the Central Park Five. Korey Wise (who changed his first name from Kharey after being released from prison) still lives in New York City, where he works as a speaker and justice reform activist. He donated $190,000 of his 2014 settlement to the chapter of the Innocence Project at the University of Colorado Law School, to aid other wrongfully convicted people to gain exoneration. They renamed the project in his honor as the Korey Wise Innocence Project.
Contemporaneous cases compared by the mediaThe Central Park events, which were attributed at the time to members of the large group of youths who attacked numerous persons in the park, including whites, blacks and Hispanics, were covered as an extreme example of the violence that was occurring in the city, including assaults and robberies, rapes and homicides. Focusing on rapes in the same week as the one in Central Park, ''The New York Times'' reported on April 29, 1990, on the "28 other first-degree rapes or attempted rapes reported across New York City". The fourth one, on April 17, took place during the day in the park and is now tied to Reyes. Later after the Central Park rape, when public attention was on the theory of a gang of young suspects, a brutal attack took place in Brooklyn on May 3, 1989. A 30-year-old black woman was robbed, raped and thrown from the roof of a four-story building by three young men. She fell 50 feet, suffering severe injuries. The incident received little media coverage in May 1989, when the focus was on the Central Park case. The woman's injuries required extensive hospitalization and rehabilitation. ''The New York Times'' continued to report on the case, and followed up on prosecution of suspects. Tyrone Prescott, 17, Kelvin Furman, 22, and another young man, Darren Decotea (name corrected a few days later as Darron Decoteau), 17, were apprehended within two weeks and prosecuted for the crimes. They arranged plea deals with the prosecution in October 1990 before trial; the first two were sentenced to 6 to 18 years in prison. Decoteau had made a plea deal in February in which he agreed to testify against the other two. He was sentenced on October 10, 1990 to four to twelve years in prison. Social justice activists and critics have pointed to the lack of extensive coverage of the attack of the woman in Brooklyn as showing the media's racial bias; they have accused it of overlooking violence against minority women.
Representation in other media* Ken Burns, Sarah Burns (writer filmmaker), Sarah Burns and her husband David McMahon premiered their ''The Central Park Five (film), The Central Park Five'', a documentary film about the case, at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012. Documentarian Ken Burns said he hoped the material of the film would push the city to settle the men's case against it. On September 12, 2012, attorneys for New York City subpoenaed the production company for access to the original footage in connection with its defense of the 2003 federal civil lawsuit brought against the city by three of the convicted youths. Celeste Koeleveld, the city's executive assistant corporation counsel for public safety, justified the subpoena on the grounds that the film had "crossed the line from journalism to advocacy" for the wrongfully convicted men. In February 2013, U.S. Judge Ronald L. Ellis wikt:quash#Verb, quashed the city's subpoena. * On May 31, 2019, ''When They See Us,'' a four-episode miniseries, was released on Netflix. Ava DuVernay co-wrote and directed the drama. Its release and wide viewing on Netflix prompted renewed discussion of the case, the criminal justice system, and of the lives of the five men. * An opera, also called ''The Central Park Five (opera), The Central Park Five'', premiered in Long Beach, California, performed by the Long Beach Opera Company, on June 15, 2019.Anne Midgette, "‘The Central Park Five,’ in song: Composer Anthony Davis on his new opera"
See also* List of wrongful convictions in the United States * Scottsboro Boys * Martinsville Seven * Willie McGee (convict)
Further reading* Michael F. Armstrong, et al. (January 27, 2003
External links* , court records including videos of confessions