Prosecutor in Central Park 5 Case Faces New Outrage

Linda Fairstein steps down from 2 positions after Netflix series on the case
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2019 2:06 AM CDT
Former NYC Prosecutor Faces Backlash After Netflix Series
This image released by Netflix shows Ethan Herisse as Young Yusef Salaam, and Aunjanue Ellis as Sharonne Salaam in a scene from "When They See Us."   (Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix via AP)

Former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein is facing a major backlash almost 30 years after she oversaw the prosecution of five wrongly accused young teenagers for the 1989 beating and rape of a jogger in Central Park. The 72-year-old resigned from Vassar College's board of trustees Tuesday after more than 15,000 people signed a petition to remove her, reports NBC. The Central Park Five case has been getting fresh attention after the release of When They See Us, a four-part Netflix movie about the case. The movie depicts Fairstein, who ran the district attorney's sex crimes unit at the time, as having decided early on that the teens were guilty and refusing to budge, the New York Daily News reports.

The teens, who said their confessions were coerced, had their convictions vacated after another man confessed to the crime. They settled with the city for $41 million in 2014. Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley said Fairstein had stepped down because she "believed that her continuing as a Board member would be harmful to Vassar." Fairstein, who oversaw the interrogation of the five youths but did not personally prosecute the case, has also resigned from the board of Safe Horizon, a nonprofit aiding victims of abuse and violent crime in New York. She is also a best-selling crime novelist, and more than 75,000 people have signed a petition urging retailers to stop selling her books. (Last year, the Mystery Writers of America rescinded her "Grand Master" award.)

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