Former prosecutor Linda Fairstein said the popular Netflix series “When They See Us” is not only smearing her, but is filled with falsehoods.
Fairstein wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal discussing the falsehoods the series presents about her and about the case as a whole.
“That a sociopath named Matias Reyes confessed in 2002 to the rape of Ms. Meili, and that the district attorney consequently vacated the charges against the five after they had served their sentences, has led some of these reporters and filmmakers to assume the prosecution had no basis on which to charge the five suspects in 1989. So it is with filmmaker Ava DuVernay in the Netflix miniseries ‘When They See Us,’ a series so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication,” Fairstein wrote.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 11, 2019
Fairstein believes that director and creator of the series Ava DuVernay bypassed the facts in the case.
“It shouldn’t have been hard for Ms. DuVernay to discover the truth. The facts of the original case are documented in a 117-page decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Galligan, in sworn testimony given in two trials and affirmed by two appellate courts, and in sworn depositions of more than 95 witnesses—including the five themselves. Instead she has written an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five),” wrote Fairstein.
She points out how the characterization of all the parties involved is false.
“Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them. None of this is true,” wrote Fairstein.
Fairstein also wrote that the injustices the kids in the series are portrayed as facing never happened in the real case.
Fairstein wrote that DuVernay leaves out key parts of the case that show the men she hopes to prove victims are not, in fact, innocent, despite legal exoneration and a multi-million dollar settlement with the city.
“Nor does the film note that Mr. Salaam took the stand at his trial, represented by a lawyer chosen and paid for by his mother, and testified that he had gone into the park carrying a 14-inch metal pipe—the same type of weapon that was used to bludgeon both a male schoolteacher and Ms. Meili. Mr. Reyes’s confession changed none of this. He admitted being the man whose DNA had been left in the jogger’s body and on her clothing, but the two juries that heard those facts knew the main assailant in the rape had not been caught. The five were charged as accomplices, as persons ‘acting in concert’ with each other and with the then-unknown man who raped the jogger, not as those who actually performed the act,” Fairstein wrote.
The Central Park 5 were among a group of 30 teenagers that went into Central Park for the purpose of attacking people, according to Frontpage Mag. Multiple people were beaten that night. The Central Park Jogger, Trisha Meili, was one of the people attacked.
When a man imprisoned for other crimes said in 2002 that he was the one that raped Meili, rape charges against Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, and Raymond Santana were vacated, Frontpage Mag reported. In 2014, the Central Park 5 were awarded a $41 million settlement from New York City.
“Mr. Reyes’s confession, DNA match, and claim that he acted alone required that the rape charges against the five be vacated. I agreed with that decision, and still do. But the other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated. Nothing Mr. Reyes said exonerated these five of those attacks. And there was certainly more than enough evidence to support those convictions of first-degree assault, robbery, riot, and other charges,” Fairstein wrote.
Since “When They See Us” came out, Fairstein resigned from the boards of Vassar College, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Joyful Heart Foundation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Then her book publisher dropped her from its roster. Twitter users have also denounced her in tweets with the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein.
She was also dropped by Hollywood literary agency ICM Partners, according to Deadline.
“That Ms. DuVernay ignored so much of the truth about the gang of 30 and about the suffering of their victims—and that her film includes so many falsehoods—is nonetheless an outrage,” wrote Fairstein. “Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth.”