The Central Park Five case has raised questions about race, class, human rights, responsibility of the media, legal protections for defendants, especially juveniles, and the justice system.  Almost 25 years after 5 teens – Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise (the Central Park Five) were wrongfully convicted of raping and assaulting a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park, they have agreed to a $40 million settlement from the city.

The sensationalized case first made headlines in 1989 when the five black and Hispanic youths were accused and convicted based upon coerced, false confessions.  The settlement, which was reached between the NYC Law Department and the 5 plaintiffs, must be approved by a city comptroller and then a judge.

In 1990, despite claims of innocence, all five teenagers were convicted in two separate trials.  The case was heavily covered by the media, which dubbed the boys “the wolf pack”, in what is best described as mass tunnel vision.

Yusef Salaam was convicted as a juvenile of 1st degree rape and robbery and sentenced to 5 to 15 years.  Kevin Richardson was convicted as a juvenile of 2nd degree attempted murder, 1st degree sodomy, 1st degree rape, and 1st degree robbery.  He was sentenced to 5 to 15 years.  Raymond Santana was convicted as a juvenile of 1st degree rape and robbery and sentenced to 5 to 15 years.  Antron McCray was convicted as a juvenile of 1st degree rape and robbery and sentenced to 5 to 10 years.  Korey Wise was convicted as an adult of 1st degree sexual abuse, 1st degree assault, and 1st degree riot.  He was sentenced to 5 to 15 years.

There wouldn’t be a true break in the case until 2001, when Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer and rapist confessed that he attacked the jogger.  Following the attack, the jogger was unable to ID her attacker due to memory loss.  Reyes had committed another rape near Central Park a few days before the attack on the jogger.

Eventually, the evidence of the crime was subjected to DNA testing and the results matched Reyes.  A week before Christmas in 2002, the convictions of all 5 men were overturned at the urging of the defense attorneys joined by the Manhattan District Attorney.  Teenagers at the time of sentencing, McCray served 6 years, Salaam and Richardson served 6 1/2 years, Santana served almost 8 years, and Wise served 11 1/2 years.

RELATED:  The Central Park Five documentary by Ken Burns – WATCH THE FULL DOCUMENTARY HERE

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