When They See Us: Who were the lead prosecutors in the Central Park 5 case?

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When They See Us is the four-part miniseries from 13th and Selma director, Ava DuVernay. The series dramatises the true story of the Central Park Five, who were falsely accused and wrongfully convicted of the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know about the real prosecutors in the case.

Who were the lead prosecutors in the Central Park 5 case?

Elizabeth Lederer (played by Vera Farmiga) was the lead prosecutor in the Central Park Five case.

Her co-prosecutor was Tim Clements (Alex Breaux).

The prosecution was overseen by Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) who was head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office from 1976 until 2002.

She assigned assistant district attorney (ADA) Elizabeth Lederer as the trial prosecutor alongside another ADA Tim Clements for the trials that were held in 1990.

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As shown in When They See Us, Fairstein’s department led the immediate investigation into the Central Park Five case and the wrongful arrest of five teenagers – four African-American and one Hispanic – after a white female jogger was raped and assaulted in New York’s Central Park on April 19, 1989.

The mini-series, which is based on the true accounts of Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise, interview transcripts and court documents, which revealed the five boys – all under the age of 16 – were interviewed without an adult present and were held for more than 24 hours with little breaks.

Antron, Kevin, Raymond and Korey all signed written confessions and Yusef made a verbal confession did but did not sign.

All five of the accused teenagers pleaded not guilty and claimed their confessions were coerced through interrogation and intimidation.

Their confessions served as evidence in their trials and all five boys were found guilty, despite the DNA found on the victim not matching any of those accused.

Lederer was the lead prosecutor on the case and played a vital role in securing their wrongful convictions.

In 2002, the convictions of Wise, Salaam, McCray, Santana and Richarson were overturned when the real attacker, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime while serving a life sentence in prison.

In 2002, after Wise, Salaam, McCray, Santana and Richardson were exonerated, the five sued the City of New York for malicious prosecution, racial discrimination and emotional distress.

In 2014, the case was finally settled for $41 million [£32 million], the largest settlement in New York State history.


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Where is prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer now?

Following her retirement from the DA’s office in 2002, Fairstein has gone on to become a successful crime novelist.

Fairstein wrote and published a staggering 23 books since stepping down from the DA’s office.

Following the release of When They See Us in June 2019, Elizabeth Lederer resigned from her long-held position as lecturer at Columbia Law School.

In a letter posted on the Columbia Law School Instagram, law school Dean Gillian Lester said in a statement: “The mini-series has reignited a painful—and vital—a national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice.

“I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most difficult issues of our time.”

She also cited Lederer as saying: “I’ve enjoyed my years teaching at CLS, and the opportunity it has given me to interact with the many fine students who elected to take my classes.

“However, given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case, it is best for me not to renew my teaching application.”

As of June 2019, Lederer continues to serve as an active prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.


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Where is prosecutor Tim Clements now?

Unfortunately, not much is known about co-prosecutor Tim Clements whereabouts today.

According to Distractify, he is still a partner at a Cleveland law firm, where he practices general corporate law.

However, in 2018 Clements expressed his unhappiness with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to compensate the Central Park Five.

Speaking to the NY Daily News, Clements said: “We tried the case, we presented the facts and the evidence and both juries convicted.

“The videotaped statements were pretty compelling.”

He continued: “The facts are the facts. It’s unconscionable to me that anyone thinks they were not in the park that night and were not causing mayhem.”

When They See Us is streaming on Netflix now

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