Linda Fairstein Attacks Her Portrayal in ‘When They See Us’


Linda Fairstein, a former prosecutor who has been the focus of public outrage since Netflix started streaming a sequence primarily based on the Central Park Five case, has criticized the present in an op-ed as “so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”

Since “When They See Us” started airing on May 31, Ms. Fairstein, who turned a profitable crime novelist after retiring from the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace, has confronted requires a boycott of her books, has stepped down from a number of nonprofit boards and was dropped by her writer. The four-part series created by Ava DuVernay portrayed Ms. Fairstein, who was performed by Felicity Huffman, as pushing for the convictions of the 5 youngsters regardless of overt inconsistencies in their confessions, which they mentioned had been coerced.

Ms. Fairstein was operating the intercourse crimes unit in the Manhattan district legal professional’s workplace in 1989, when 5 black and Latino youngsters had been arrested in reference to the brutal rape and beating of a white lady who had been jogging in Central Park. Their convictions had been vacated in 2002 after a person named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, an assertion confirmed by DNA proof. Mr. Reyes mentioned he had acted alone.

“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,” Ms. Fairstein wrote in the op-ed, printed in The Wall Street Journal in print on Tuesday and on-line Monday evening. “None of this is true.”

Ms. Fairstein, 72, wrote that there have been discrepancies between the info and the way they had been dramatized, although a few of her assertions don’t match up with the document.

In what she known as “the film’s most egregious falsehoods,” she famous that the sequence depicts the youngsters as being held with out meals and their mother and father as not at all times being current throughout questioning. “If that had been true, surely they would have brought those issues up and prevailed in pretrial hearings on the voluntariness of their statements, as well as in their lawsuit against the city,” Ms. Fairstein wrote. “They didn’t, because it never happened.”

In reality, in line with a 2003 report on the investigation commissioned by the New York Police Department, the defendants did elevate these points in a pretrial listening to, although they didn’t prevail.

Ms. Fairstein wrote that she agreed with the choice to vacate the rape expenses, however that different convictions in opposition to the 5 for lesser crimes mustn’t have been overturned. She mentioned that there was testimony to again up the accusations that the boys had been a part of a bunch of greater than 30 youngsters who had been in Central Park that evening, a few of whom assaulted and robbed individuals.

The power of these expenses has been in dispute. The district legal professional’s workplace, in a 2002 report inspecting whether or not the convictions must be overturned, argued that the lesser crimes had been introduced to the jury as a part of a sample of habits, a sample that included the rape. The report additionally mentioned the proof in opposition to the 5 youngsters for the opposite assaults “consisted almost entirely of the defendants’ statements” — the identical problematic statements in which they confessed to a rape dedicated by any person else.

But the Police Department report mentioned that there was “no new evidence or reason to review the old evidence regarding those crimes” and famous that two of the lads had admitted their involvement in these crimes throughout parole hearings.

The 5 males — Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray — had already served a number of years in jail when their convictions had been erased. New York City settled a lawsuit with them for $41 million in 2014, however admitted no wrongdoing.

Jonathan C. Moore, a lawyer who represented 4 of the 5 males in their lawsuit, mentioned that the lads had not dedicated any crimes that evening, however that since 1989, there was a suggestion that in the event that they had been responsible of lesser assaults, then they had been seemingly concerned in the rape of the jogger, Trisha Meili, as nicely.

“That’s a false connection,” Mr. Moore mentioned. “The attack on Trisha Meili was so different than what was going on in the park that night. It was a sadistic sexual assault.”

“At no point did the police or prosecution stop and say, these are young kids, like in the eighth grade,” he added. “Do we really believe they’re really capable of committing this kind of crime?”

Ms. Fairstein additionally decried her portrayal in “When They See Us” as that of an “evil mastermind.” The sequence does stray from documented reality in the timing of sure occasions and in dialogue delivered by Ms. Fairstein’s character, portraying her as in search of to make sure that the timeline supplied by the boys matched precise occasions, or declaring that “every young black male” who was in the park when Ms. Meili was attacked was a suspect.

Mr. Moore has contended that the sequence “captures the essence of who she was.”

A spokeswoman for Netflix declined to remark. Ms. DuVernay, who directed the sequence and was considered one of its writers, responded to Ms. Fairstein’s claims in a couple of phrases on Twitter: “Expected and typical. Onward … ”

Ms. Fairstein led the intercourse crimes unit for 25 years after which went on to be a best-selling crime novelist and movie star former prosecutor. She held seats on a lot of prestigious boards, together with these of Vassar College and Safe Horizon, which helps victims of abuse and sexual assault.

Since “When They See Us” started streaming, Ms. Fairstein has resigned from a number of boards and was dropped by her writer, Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House.



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