Twenty-five years ago, Trisha Meili—“the Central Park jogger”—was a 28 year-old employee for a prestigious Manhattan investment banker when she was mercilessly beaten, raped, and left for dead by thugs.
Meili lost approximately 80 percent of her blood. Her skull was fractured to the point that her one eye had popped out of its socket. On the scale of 3 to 15 that neurologists use to gauge brain functioning, Meili’s was assigned a rating of 4. She spent nearly the next two weeks in a coma, with experts expecting her to die.
This crime became a racially explosive issue, for Meili was white and her assailants were not: Of the 30 or so minority youths that had been randomly terrorizing park dwellers, four blacks and one Hispanic confessed to having engaged in the attack on Meili. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise, and Yusef Salaam were arrested, tried, convicted, and issued prison sentences.
But in 2002, long after “the Central Park Five,” as documentarian and apologist for the convicts, Ken Burns has dubbed them, had done their time, and long after the statute of limitations on the 13 year-old crime had expired, convicted serial rapist and murderer, Matias Reyes, who was already serving a life term, confessed to being Meili’s lone assailant. DNA testing confirmed that it was Matias’ semen—and his alone—that was found on Meili’s body and around the scene of the crime.
Shortly afterwards, District Attorney Robert Morgenthau prevailed upon his state’s Supreme Court to “vacate” the convictions of “the Central Park Five.” Not unsurprisingly, the latter sued the City of New York for wrongful imprisonment to the tune of $250 million.
In June, courtesy of the ever illustrious Mayor DiBlasio, “the Central Park Five” discovered that they would receive $40 million.
Not since the O.J. Simpson acquittal have we witnessed this gross a travesty of justice. Yet it’s also a travesty of intelligence, for only a fool—or perhaps a liar—could think that “the Central Park Five” were innocent of anything, much less the attack on Trisha Meili.
For starters, no one has ever disputed that the Harlem thugs had been in Central Park that fateful evening for the sole purpose of assaulting and mugging innocents (one of whom had been bludgeoned with a pipe). As is the wont of cowards, “the Five” set upon only those who they outnumbered, those who were weaker and more vulnerable. This they confessed from the moment they were in police custody.
To the present day, they have never retracted this confession.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at email@example.com or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.