Nearly a week after the settlement was reported, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that he has approved a $40 million settlement to the "Central Park Five," the five men who were wrongfully convicted as teens of raping and assaulting a Central Park jogger in 1989.
Stringer said in a statement, "In my judgment, this settlement is a prudent and equitable solution for all parties to the lawsuit and closes a very difficult chapter in our City’s history. I would like to commend New York City’s Law Department for their extensive efforts in reaching this settlement."
The victim, an investment banker named Trisha Melli, was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and left for dead on April 19th, 1989. The teens had been in Central Park, but the police, eager for an arrest, apparently coerced them into confession during 24 hours of questioning. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise served nearly six years in prison while Yusef Salaam served almost 13 years.
However, 2002, Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau said (PDF) the convictions should be vacated, after an inmate named Matias Reyes, serving time for a rape-robbery, rape-murder and robbery, confessed to the 1989 Central Park rape. Testing showed his DNA matched the DNA found at the crime scene. The Bloomberg administration avoided settling the case for years.
A NY Times editorial last week declared, "Mayor Bill de Blasio acted in the interest of justice when his administration agreed to pay about $40 million to the five black and Hispanic men wrongly convicted in the brutal beating and rape of a white, female jogger in Central Park in 1989. If the settlement is approved by the city comptroller and a federal court, it will bring to a close one of the more shameful and racially divisive episodes in New York City history.... The proposed settlement averages about $1 million a year for each year the five men spent in prison. This brings a measure of closure. It does not bring back their youthful lives."