The Race & Social Justice Law Review, in association with the Criminal Law Society, Innocence Clinic, and the Trial Team sponsored a screening of the film The Central Park Five and a discussion with the exonerees.
By Catherine Skipp – On April 19, 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested for the rape, sexual assault, and attempted murder of a 28-year-old woman who was attacked while jogging in New York City’s Central Park. Most of the young men – ages 14 to 16 – confessed after more than 24 hours of police interrogations without benefit of counsel or the presence of their parents.
The woman, an investment banker, was in a coma for 12 days and never regained the memory of the attack.
The horrific case outraged New Yorkers, brought national headlines, and the term “wilding” came into the public lexicon, used to describe supposed packs of young men marauding nightly in the northern reaches of the park. The five were summarily tried and convicted with sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years, even though each steadfastly proclaimed their innocence and none was tied to any DNA evidence collected at the scene or from the victim.
By 2002, all but one of The Central Park Five, as they came to be known, had completed their sentences. The one remaining was incarcerated with another inmate who had been living in the East Harlem neighborhood at the time of the attack on the jogger. He was serving a life sentence for the sexual assault and murder of a pregnant 24-year-old in June of 1989. He confessed to the attack on the jogger; DNA evidence was conclusive that the now 31-year-old was the perpetrator.
The above is an excerpt from the full story at the University of Miami School of Law website (www.law.miami.edu). You can continue reading the story by clicking here.