Donald Trump has re-ignited the controversy surrounding the Central Park jogger rape case.
Trump told CNN in a statement that the five people originally implicated in the case “admitted they were guilty.”
“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” Trump said. “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.”
When the incident first occurred, Trump had put forth advertisements that read: “Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!” and called for the five men thought to be the assailants to face the death penalty.
Here are seven things you need to know about the Central Park jogger case.
1. The incident occurred on the night of April 19, 1989. A woman, later identified as Trisha Meili, was jogging in Central Park when she suffered a horrifically brutal rape and assault, as described by the Florida Times-Union:
Trisha Meili lost 80 percent of her blood during an attack and rape so brutal that doctors did not expect her to live more than a few hours.
She had deep scalp lacerations and skull fractures. Her brain was swollen. Her eye had exploded from its socket. Unconscious and tied up, her body jerked uncontrollably because of massive brain damage. The soles of her feet were the only part of her blood-soaked body not bruised, and she was identified by a gold ring that she always wore.
One of her physicians testified that “she hung onto life by a thread.”
Meili survived, but she was unable to remember the attack at all.
2. Five males, dubbed as “the Central Park Five” were arrested for raping and attacking Meili. The Central Park Five, which consisted of Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam, spent numerous years in jail for allegedly raping and attacking Meili. Here were their respective ages when they were arrested:
- 14 years old: Santana, Richardson.
- 15 years old: McCray, Salaam.
- 16 years old: Wise.
Trump did later admit that he was wrong to call for the death penalty at the time given the ages of the Central Park Five.
However, everything about the case changed in 2002 when the following happened…
3. A man confessed to raping and attacking the Meili. Matias Reyes, who had been incarcerated for committing a slew of heinous crimes that included a murder and multiple rapes that involved Reyes gouging out the eyes of his victims, came forward with the confession because he supposedly “found religion” and felt Wise’s “pain” when they met in jail. Many seemed to think that Reyes only gave the confession to gain attention and be rewarded with “a transfer and special privileges in prison.”
Traces of Reyes’ semen were found on Meili’s sock from the night of the attack, and this resulted in the charges being dropped against the Central Park Five since there was no DNA evidence connecting them to the crime.
4. The Central Park Five sued the city of New York after the charges were dropped. They ended up winning $41 million in a settlement.
5. Ken Burns’ documentary called The Central Park Five was released in 2012 blaming the convictions of the five males on racism and income inequality, which is patently absurd. The Central Park Five are all black and Hispanic, which of course opened the door for leftists to resort to their usual shrieks of racism. But as James Bowman wrote in the American Spectator at the time, even if you believe the Central Park five did not commit the crime, their convictions had nothing to do with race or wealth and more likely was due to the media hysteria surrounding the case at the time that encouraged the convictions to occur.
6. After recovering from the attack, Meili now shares her experience of healing as a motivational speaker. Now residing in Jacksonville, FL, Meili gives speeches to numerous organizations and shares her recovery as a means to provide hope to others who are dealing with their own struggles, as “her story of hope and recovery resonates with people,” according to the Florida Times-Union. She has also written a book about her recovery process, called I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility and has jogged through Central Park after the attack occurred. Meili has also won numerous awards, including the the 2014 Survivor Activist Award from the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
7. So are the Central Park Five truly exonerated from the attack, or are they actually guilty, as Trump insists? Jack Kerwick pointed out in a 2014 column at Townhall that thye had given statements that basically admitted they attacked Meili:
Antron McCray: “We charged her. We got her on the ground. Everybody started hitting her and stuff. She was on the ground. Everybody stompin’ and everything. Then we got, each—I grabbed one arm, some other kid grabbed one arm, and we grabbed her legs and stuff. Then we all took turns getting on her, getting on top of her.”
Kevin Richardson: “Raymond [Santana] had her arms, and Steve [Lopez] had her legs. He spread it out. And Antron [McCray] got on top, took her panties off.”
Raymond Santana: “He was smackin’ her, he was sayin’, ‘Shut up, bitch!’ Just smackin’ her…I was grabbin’ the lady’s tits.”
Kharey Wise: “This was my first rape.”
The Central Park Five later claimed that these confessions were coerced, but Michael Armstrong, who served on a panel re-investigating the Central Park jogger case, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that there is no evidence that any of the confessions were coerced.
Furthermore, Kerwick pointed out that there was other evidence implicating the Central Park Five:
Multiple videotaped confessions of “the Five”; the presence of semen, blood, and hair on all of the suspects; a scratch on Kevin Richardson’s neck that, in the company of his father, he admitted he received by Meili; and several witness accounts confirmed for the police that the vermin who Ken Burns would years later make into martyrs were as guilty as sin itself of initiating and facilitating an attack against Trisha Meili that nearly cost the poor woman her life.
Armstrong also notes that the Central Park Five were never actually exonerated, there were just no re-trials given that the Central Park Five “had served their sentences.” The Central Park Five had also been convicted of assaulting other people in Central Park prior to the Central Park jogger, one of which was “a man beaten into unconsciousness with a pipe,” so it’s not as if the Central Park Five had pristine records before the jogger case occurred.
Reyes himself has never been interrogated to determine if his confession was completely accurate, as Robert Morgenthau, the district attorney, stonewalled the police from doing so.
The panel Armstrong served on concluded the following:
The panel’s report to Police Commissioner Kelly in 2003 suggested that it was “probable” that the defendants participated only in a preliminary “hit and run” attack on the jogger, similar to the other assaults for which they had been convicted. If that theory is correct, it seems clear that they served excessive prison terms. Others, pleading guilty to such offenses occurring on the same night, served two to three years, not six or 13.
In other words, the theory is that the Central Park Five did attack Meili, and then afterward Reyes proceeded to rape her. The prosecutors had always thought that there was one other person who had gotten away, which presumably was Reyes.
Certainly such evidence might cause one to think that Trump may have a point in that the Central Park Five were at least in part guilty. But it may never be known for sure what role, if any, they had in that night.
Top image (Getty Images): Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger during Achilles Track Club’s Third Annual ‘Hope and Possibility’ 5 Mile Run/Walk in New York City, New York, United States.