Linda Fairstein observed the interrogation of the Central Park Five. -Getty
Linda Fairstein, a former US prosecutor turned crime novelist, has been dropped by her publisher amid renewed outcry over her role in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers for the brutal rape of a female jogger in 1989.The black and Hispanic teenagers, known as the Central Park Five, were exonerated in 2002. New Netflix mini-series When They See Us has returned attention to the case.It has inspired a #CancelLindaFairstein movement on social media.
Also on Friday, Yusef Salaam, one of the five wrongfully convicted men, accused President Donald Trump of putting "a bounty on our heads" by amplifying public outrage at the time. Salaam was referring to the decision by the then real estate tycoon, to buy full-page ads in several US newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty in the state.
"They had published our names, our phone numbers, and our addresses in New York City's newspapers. Imagine the horror of that," a tearful Salaam said at an American Civil Liberties Union event in Los Angeles. President Trump - who three years ago said he still believed the five men were guilty - has not commented on the latest developments. Dutton, a Penguin Random House imprint, said it had ended its relationship with the author amid the backlash.
"I can confirm that Linda Fairstein and Dutton have decided to terminate their relationship. We have no further comment," Dutton Publicity Director Amanda Walker told the BBC. Fairstein, 72, has reportedly also resigned from at least two not-for-profit boards. The crime novelist, who has written 20 novels since the 1990s, has not commented on the issue. Fairstein was the top Manhattan sexual crimes prosecutor when the five teenagers were charged with the attack.
The victim, a white 28-year-old investment banker, was severely beaten, raped and left for dead in a bush. She had no memory of the attack. Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise - then aged between 14 and 16 - were arrested and interrogated for hours without access to lawyers or their parents.They confessed to the crime but later recanted, saying their admissions were the result of police coercion.
Fairstein observed the teenagers' 1989 interrogation, which was conducted by another prosecutor and police. She has since maintained that they were not coerced and defended the authorities' conduct.
The convictions were overturned in 2002 after a serial violent offender named Matias Reyes confessed to the attack and said he had acted alone. Reyes confessed from inside prison, after having "found religion". He is serving a life sentence for raping four women, killing one of them. "I was a monster," he said in an interview with US network ABC. "I did some real bad things to so many people and harmed them in so many ways."
The racially charged case shocked the city and provoked fears of gangs of black teenagers going on crime rampages. A US judge in 2014 approved a $41m (£32m) settlement between the five and New York City.
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