Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump brought renewed attention to a criminal case that gripped New York City and the nation nearly 30 years ago when he recently suggested that—despite their exoneration—the five black and Hispanic teenagers who became known as the “Central Park Five” carried out the rape and beating of Trisha Meili, the so-called Central Park jogger, a white female banker who went for a run on the night of April 19, 1989.
“They admitted they were guilty,” the candidate told CNN’s Miguel Marquez this week. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”
His comments are not the first time he has spoken out about the case, in which the perpetrator spent “half an hour beating [the victim] senseless with a rock and a metal pipe, raping her and leaving her for dead,” per TIME’s May 8, 1989 recap of the incident. A month after the attack, Trump called for justice by running an ad in the New York Daily News advocating the return of the death penalty.
Five teens — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise — became the chief suspects, and police said that they had engaged in what they called “wilding,” a series of assaults committed that night out of boredom. “Four of them confessed on videotape that the jogger had been one of their victims,” TIME later reported. “They later recanted, saying their statements had been coerced, but all were convicted.”
Then in 2002, their convictions were vacated after convicted murderer Matias Reyes, who was serving a life sentence in prison, confessed to the crime — and DNA evidence proved it. TIME explained how the miscarriage of justice had occurred:
Twelve years later, the group—who were also the subject of a 2012 Ken Burns documentary—agreed to a more than $40 million settlement with New York City. Trump called the deal a “disgrace” in a June 2014 op-ed for the New York Daily News and wrote “What about the other people who were brutalized that night, in addition to the jogger?…These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”
A recent ABC News article reported that one of them, Yusef Salaam, said, “Had Donald Trump had his way … we would have been dead.”
As for the jogger, Meili went on to write a memoir and became a motivational speaker who volunteers with hospitals and charity runs.
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