Linda Fairstein, the former Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor who oversaw the prosecution of the “central park five” has announced her resignation from several charity boards in the wake of the explosive Netflix documentary, “When They See Us.”
Fairstein was in charge of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit when jogger Trisha Meili was found clinging to life following a rape and assault in Central Park over 30 years ago. Despite no physical evidence, Fairstein charged Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kharey (now Korey) Wise with the crime. All were between the ages of 14 and 16 years old. The five were reportedly coerced into confessing using interrogation techniques that bordered on torture, according to the documentary and those familiar with the case. In 2002, Matias Reyes claimed responsibility for raping and beating Meili and the five were released after spending over half a decade behind bars.
The documentary has reinvigorated outrage against Fairstein, who was largely responsible for the trial. The backlash, which has sparked social media outrage (#CancelLindaFairstein) and calls for her publisher to discontinue her book, likely led to pressure for her to resign from the numerous charity boards on which she served.
Thus far, the charities that she has resigned from including Safe Horizon and God’s Love We Deliver; the Joyful Heart Foundation, as well as stepped down from her involvement with Vassar College’s charitable efforts and alumni programs.
In her resignation letter to Safe Harbor, she wrote the following: “I know the terrible inequities of race, gender, and class that have been a tragically pervasive part of our American criminal justice system for centuries. I have dedicated my career, and my professional and personal passion, to fighting against injustice — and much of that fight has been conducted for and on behalf of the staff and directors at Safe Horizon.”
“When They See Us” is currently available for streaming on Netflix.