President Donald Trump responded to a question about the Central Park Five during his appearance before reporters on Tuesday, once again declining to apologize for his actions following the incident. They said their confessions were coerced.
The Central Park Five were five young men of color - Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise - who were wrongfully convicted of the brutal beating and rape of a female jogger in New York City in 1989.
Before any of the five teenagers, all black or Hispanic, had been tried over the brutal rape of a white woman in Central Park, Trump, then a Manhattan real-estate tycoon, took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty to be reinstated in NY state.
"They admitted they were guilty", he told CNN during the 2016 campaign. "The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty".
Trump's 1989 ad proclaimed in bolded, all-caps lettering: "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY". "I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I am looking to punish them". They served prison sentences of varying lengths, but all charges were vacated and they were fully exonerated in 2002 after DNA evidence linked a serial rapist and convicted murderer to the crime. The city of NY made a $41 million dollar settlement with the men for the ordeal, and the case has largely been seen as an indictment of institutional racism in the criminal justice system.
Since DuVernay's series was released, a number of officials involved in the prosecution have suffered significant backlash.
At Tuesday's press gaggle, Trump asked Ryan why she wanted to bring the question of his involvement up now. "It's an interesting time to bring it up", he said. "He stayed longer when the others moved on". While real-life figures like Linda Fairstein have faced new consequences for their involvement in the Central Park 5's story, however, President Donald Trump has not. She went on to become a bestselling crime novelist but was dropped by her publisher last month amid renewed outcry over the case.
Most recently, Fairstein composed an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal once more defending her handling of the case. "Would you apologize for the Central Park Five?".