In one of the most gruesome and notorious crimes in New York City history, it was thought that the criminals were behind bars.
In what is called the Central Park murder, a 28-year-old investment banker was jogging after work April 19, 1989, when she was dragged from the road, sexually assaulted and beaten in the head so severely that she nearly died.
In 1990 five Harlem teenagers were convicted of the attack.
Now, nearly 13 years later, and nearly a lifetime spent behind bars, the five men may see the light of day.
The case was officially reopened and a hearing is set for the five imprisoned men on Oct. 21.
But underneath it all, this case is about much more than being wrongfully accused.
The rampant racism, ageism, or just plain corruption that must have been spread throughout the system for these boys to be forced into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit is appalling.
The men, mere boys at the time of their prosecution, have now admitted that their confessions were false.
In 1989 police officers held and interrogated the 13 to 15-year-old boys for 28 hours before a forced confession was given. Civil rights aside, this is inhumane.
Another man has stepped forward and confessed sole responsibility for the crime.
Matias Reyes, has admitted to this rape and beating, and several others that happened around the same time.
Reyes is now in prison serving a 33-year sentence for the rape of a pregnant 24-year-old woman.
Reyes’ semen matches the semen found in the rape kit performed on the victim in the jogger case of 1989.
Police are investigating into a possible cover-up.
However, cover-up does not even begin to describe what went on during this investigation.
In addition to having their rights stripped away, another man’s involvement wasn’t considered and these boys were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.
Defense attorneys in the case were not informed of a rape that occurred two days before or that it fit the same pattern as the one supposedly committed by the boys.
The boys – Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise -were all under suspicion of having attacked other bicyclist and runners in Central Park.
“The boys acknowledge the fact that they had been a part of the group that attacked others in the park, but had nothing to do with attacking the jogger.”
This more than likely played a part in the boys’ forced confession.
However, police officials stick by their story that although none of the boys were implicated in the DNA tests, it is possible for them to have “played roles in the crime without leaving biological evidence.”
However, it is rape and assault that the boys spent 13 years of their lives in prison for.
The police involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The police system that allowed these men to fabricate proof and abuse the civil liberties of the boys involved needs a child welfare system that will step in and absolve certain police powers when they are being abused.
Whether the conviction is overturned or not, what is incontestable in any court of law is that time has been lost, lives have been ruined, and knowing our justice system, the wrong person will probably pay for that, too.
Bridget Nance for the Editorial Board.