Former New York City Prosecutor Linda Fairstein is livid about the portrayal of events in Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix miniseries “When They See Us."
The show tells the story of the Central Park Five case and how five teenagers of color were wrongfully accused, stood trial, and convicted for the rape of a white female jogger on April 19, 1989. Fairstein was the head of the Manhattan sex-crimes unit at the time.
Since the show's debut on the streaming service, Fairstein has been hit with intense criticism and backlash. So much so, the now-mystery book writer was dropped by her publicist last week and had to step down from several nonprofit boards she was a part of.
The former prosecutor, who is 72 today, broke her silence in an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal. She called the miniseries an “outright fabrication” and is “full of distortions and falsehoods."
“I was one of the supervisors who oversaw the team that prosecuted the teenagers apprehended after that horrific night of violence,” Fairstein wrote. “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.”
Fairstein, who is played by Felicity Huffman in the show, said the teenagers “being held without food, deprived of their parents’ company and advice, and not even allowed to use the bathroom” is not true and even though she agrees with the rape charges having been dropped 13 years later, she claims the original Central Park Five – Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Korey Wise – shouldn't have had the other charges dropped.
Their convictions were dropped in 2002 when serial rapist Matias Reyes admitted to the rape and DNA evidence supported his confession.
“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.” she claimed.
On the night of April 19th, the original five were allegedly among a number of rioters in Central Park, and the jogger wasn't the only person who was attacked.
On Monday, DuVernay retweeted a post about Fairstein’s op-ed.
“Expected and typical,” she wrote. “Onward …”
"When They See Us" is currently available to stream on Netflix.