Nearly three months after the city agreed on the settlement, a federal judge has signed off on $41 million to be given to the five men who, as teens, were wrongfully convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park.
According to the Daily News, "Under the deal approved by Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson will get $7.125 million for their years in prison, while Korey Wise will receive $12.25 million. The city will also pay an additional $285,000 in legal fees. The city, however, doesn’t admit to any wrongdoing in the case."
On April 19th, 1989, Trisha Melli, an investment banker, jogging in Central Park was brutally raped and nearly beaten to death. Police arrested five black and Latino teens, ages 14 to 16, and the boys were later convicted. However, as it turned out, the police, eager for an arrest, apparently coerced them into confession during 24 hours of questioning. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam served nearly six years in prison while Korey Wise served almost 13 years.
In 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, and the five were set free. The Bloomberg administration avoided settling the case for years.
Mayor de Blasio said, "This settlement is an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue. The City had a moral obligation to right this injustice—which is why, from Day One, I vowed to settle this case. I commend the Law Department, led by Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter, for its efforts to reach a fair resolution of this matter that takes into account all relevant legal factors. With today’s approval by a federal judge, we can finally put this case behind us, and these five men and their families can begin to heal these wounds and move forward."
And Corporation Council Zachary Carter said:
According to the NY Times
“More than 10 years ago, the New York District Attorney moved to vacate the convictions of the young men who came to be known as the Central Park Five, after a review of the case prompted by statements of an individual who claimed sole responsibility for the brutal rape of a female jogger that was the centerpiece of the prosecution. DNA evidence conclusively linked that individual to the rape of the jogger. There was no DNA or other scientific evidence that implicated any of the five young men ultimately convicted of the rape.
“To the extent that the evidence suggests that these five young men were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to substantial prison terms for a crime they did not commit, that in and of itself constitutes an injustice in need of redress. Toward that end, we have reached an agreement to settle this case. This agreement should not be construed as an acknowledgment that the convictions of these five plaintiffs were the result of law enforcement misconduct. On the contrary, our review of the record suggests that both the investigating detectives and the Assistant District Attorneys involved in the case acted reasonably, given the circumstances with which they were confronted on April 19, 1989 and thereafter. In the end, however, that is an issue that would ultimately be determined by a jury at trial, absent a settlement of this litigation. We have determined that a resolution of this matter is in the best interests of the City.”
, "One of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Jonathan C. Moore, said it was 'wonderful this case is finally over for these young men, who maintained their innocence all along.' He said the settlement was 'some measure of justice, and nobody would deny that, but no amount of money could really compensate them for what they and their families suffered.'"