Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Central Park Five case prosecutor resigns from Columbia Law School

Ava DuVernay's When They See Us has been the most-watched series on Netflix since its premiere Ava DuVernay's'When They See Us is the most-watched series on Netflix since its premiereMore
Lora Ball | 13 June, 2019, 20:41

Elizabeth Lederer had been working as a part-time lecturer at the school, but said Wednesday she would not return, according to The New York Times.

"I've enjoyed my years teaching at CLS, and the opportunity it has given me to interact with the many fine students who elected to take my classes", she said in a statement.

Last week, the university's Black Students Organization began circulating a petition calling for Lederer to step down and calling on Columbia Medical School to recall an award it bestowed on Linda Fairstein, who oversaw the prosecution as head of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office Sex Crimes Unit.

The show has led to a backlash against Linda Fairstein, the NY prosecutor in the "Central Park Five" case, who has resigned from the boards of Vassar College and victim-assistance organization Safe Horizon.

The Netflix program depicts Lederer, a lead prosecutor in the case, permitting coercive and abusive techniques in the investigation.

Lederer's resignation comes after Columbia's Black Law Students Association released a statement condemning the "harmful, racist tactics" she helped use to convict the five minors.

In 2002, there were exonerated by the New York State Supreme Court only because a fellow inmate came forward to confess - even though there was never any DNA evidence linking them to the crime.

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"Since Lederer's integral role in the case has received a national spotlight, there have been multiple efforts urging Columbia Law School to take action", a letter from the group read in part.

The Netflix series has sparked backlash on both sides for its portrayal of the case. Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson eventually received a $41 million settlement from the city of NY in 2014.

'I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most hard issues of our time'.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Fairstein claimed that DuVernay's four-part scripted series is "so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication".

The Netflix series, "When They See Us", was directed by Ava DuVernay and is a fictionalized version of the events surrounding the case.

The former prosecutor has already been forced to shut down her social media accounts and resigned from three non-profit boards.

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