Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

‘Basket Of Lies’: Central Park Five Prosecutor Says She Did Nothing Wrong

As interest has been renewed in the “Central Park Five” case thanks to a recent Netflix miniseries, so has scrutiny for the prosecutor on the case, Linda Fairstein.

Fairstein claims she did nothing wrong in the case, in which five teenagers — four black and one Hispanic — were wrongfully convicted for the 1989 assault of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park, The Daily Beast reported. The five were exonerated in 2002 after serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the crime.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Fairstein called “When They See Us,” a dramatization of the case by Ava DuVernay, an “outrage,” and suggested that Reyes’s confession and DNA evidence didn’t prove the five weren’t involved or hadn’t been behind other assaults. She also told The Daily Beast that the series was a “basket of lies,” claiming that there was good reason for authorities and jurors to believe that the teens were involved in the attack.

“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,” Fairstein wrote in the Journal. “But the other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated.”

The backlash has been swift since the series premiered last week, according to The Daily Beast. The publisher of Fairstein’s crime novels dropped her; she stepped down from the boards of several nonprofits; and the Columbia Law School Black Student Organization started a petition to rescind an award she was given. The petition also calls for firing her co-prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer.

“Ms. DuVernay does not define me,” Fairstein said in her own defense, “and her film does not speak the truth.”

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.