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Who You Gonna Believe? Netflix or the Evidence?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP

*WARNING: Graphic quotes throughout about the Central Park rape case. 

Last week, we reviewed the evidence of “innocence” of the "Central Park 5" presented in the court of Hollywood. This week, we’ll review the evidence of their guilt -- presented in courts of law and ruled on by actual judges and juries.


The five accused rapists -- Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise -- were duly convicted of the 1989 Central Park rape, as well as other assaults in the park that night; “exonerated” 13 years later; and, more than a decade after that, paid $40 million by the city of New York to “settle” a malicious prosecution case within months of Bill de Blasio becoming mayor, despite city lawyers’ confidence that they would win at trial.

To his credit, Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to give the "exonerated" convicts a dime.

Today, they are civil rights heroes to Hollywood airheads and others completely unfamiliar with the facts of the case.

Here is just some of the evidence against them.

Santana was one of the first boys picked up in the park the night of the attacks, April 19, 1989. While being driven to the precinct house, he blurted out: “I had nothing to do with the rape. All I did was feel the woman’s tits.”

At this point, the jogger hadn’t been found. The police knew nothing about any rape.

Richardson rode to the precinct with another boy, who announced to the police that he knew who did “the murder,” naming Antron McCray. Richardson concurred, saying, “Yeah. That’s who did it.”

Again, the police didn't know about the jogger yet. (It’s not surprising that the boys thought she was dead: Her doctors didn’t expect her to live through the night.)

Over the next few days, five teenaged boys gave detailed confessions about the attack on the woman, as well as the other attacks. All five made their confessions in the presence of their parents or guardians.


It is absolute madness to imagine that officers did anything to coerce these confessions. When the boys confessed, no one -- not them, not the prosecutors, not the police interviewing them -- had any idea whether the jogger would emerge from her coma, remembering everything. (Mercifully, she remembered nothing.)

Why on earth would cops bully five random teenagers into false confessions, knowing that the victim might wake up at any moment and announce, My boyfriend did it! That would be rather awkward for any cop who’d gotten someone else to confess.

In a six-week pre-trial hearing, the boys’ confessions were subjected to relentless assault by defense attorneys. The confessions were attacked again during both trials and on appeal. The trial judge, the two multi-ethnic juries and the appellate court judges found the confessions voluntary -- and damning.

Salaam confessed to the rape after the detective questioning him said that fingerprints had been found on the jogger’s clothing, and if the prints were his, he was “going down for the rape.” Salaam confessed immediately. Why would he do that -- unless he was worried the prints might be his?

Taken to the scene of the crime by a detective and a prosecutor the following morning, Wise said, "Damn, damn, that's a lot of blood. ... I knew she was bleeding, but I didn't know how bad she was. It was really dark. I couldn't see how much blood there was at night.” (She’d lost three-quarters of her blood.)


The police also had incriminating testimony from friends and acquaintances of the defendants.

-- Dennis Commedo, one of the boys who was part of the larger group, told the police that, when he ran into Richardson in the park that night, he’d said, “We just raped somebody.”

-- Wise told a friend's sister, Melody Jackson, that he didn't rape the jogger; he "only held her legs down while Kevin (Richardson) f---ed her." Jackson volunteered this information to the police, thinking it would help Wise.

-- Two of Wise's friends said that, the next day, he told them, "You heard about that woman that was beat up and raped in the park last night. That was us!"

-- Another boy arrested for the attacks, but not the rape, told the detectives on videotape that he overheard Santana and a friend laughing in the park about how they’d “made a woman bleed.”

The defendants also knew facts about the attack that only someone who had been there could possibly know. Two of the boys, Santana and Richardson, independently pointed out the exact location where the rape had occurred.

Wise told the detective interviewing him that someone he thought was named “Rudy” had stolen the jogger’s Walkman. The officer’s notes state: “persons present when girl raped. ... Rudy –- played with tits/took walkman.”

At that point, the jogger was still in a coma. Police investigators had no way of knowing that she’d been carrying a Walkman. Thirteen years later, the sixth rapist, Matias Reyes -- the only rapist, according to Hollywood and former District Attorney Robert Morgenthau -- told police that in addition to raping the jogger, he’d stolen her Walkman.


At the risk of sounding as stupid as a liberal, one of the most disheartening aspects of the "Central Park 5" folktale is that several of the boys had lovely parents, who came to the police station and sternly instructed their sons to tell the truth. They were kids, 14- and 15-year-olds, except for one who was 16. It was monstrous what they did, but some of them surely got caught up with the mob, hormones raging, and did things they never would have done on their own.

But instead of learning a somber lesson from their parents, paying the price and emerging better men, they have learned a much different lesson from our media: It doesn’t matter what you do to another human being; cry “racism,” and you will be rewarded with untold riches and celebrity. 

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