Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor of the now-exonerated “Central Park Five,” was dropped by her publisher and pressured to resign from the board of charities after the Netflix series When They See Us renewed scrutiny of her role in the case.
But the former sex crime investigator is doubling down on her claim that she did nothing wrong, attacking the production and suggesting there was good resason for authorities and jurors to think the black teens took part in the infamous 1989 attack on a white jogger.
In a Monday night op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Fairstein called Ava DuVernay’s dramatization of the polarizing crime an “outrage.” Days earlier, Fairstein also criticized the Netflix show in an interview with The Daily Beast, calling it a “basket of lies.”
Fairstein’s pushback has done little to help her. The publisher of her crime novels, Dutton, cut its ties to her last week. She also stepped down from the boards of several nonprofits: Safe Horizon victims services agency, God’s Love We Deliver, Joyful Heart Foundation, and Vassar College.
Meanwhile, the Columbia Law School Black Student Organization posted a Change.org petition demanding the university rescind an award for Fairstein and fire her co-prosecutor, Elizabeth Lederer.
In the Netflix miniseries, Fairstein is portrayed by Felicity Huffman as a racial profiler who dismissed evidence showing the Central Park Five did not beat and rape the jogger.
She suggests in the op-ed that just because serial sex offender Matias Reyes confessed to the assault—an admission supported by DNA evidence—doesn’t mean the five are innocent of taking part or did not assault other people in the park.
“Mr. Reyes’s confession, DNA match and claim that he acted alone required that the rape charges against the five be vacated. I agreed with that decision, and still do. But the other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated,” she wrote.
“Ms. DuVernay does not define me, and her film does not speak the truth,” Fairstein added.
DuVernay appeared unmoved by Fairstein’s attempt to salvage her reputation and career.