BBC, Dec. 5, 2002
Prosecutors in New York have asked the city’s Supreme Court to throw out the convictions of five young men for a notorious rape attack 13 years ago.
District Attorney Robert Morgenthau made the request 11 months after a convicted rapist who had never been under suspicion for the crime confessed to committing it.
Five black men were jailed for the brutal rape and wounding of a jogger in Central Park which made headlines around the world at the time and each served at least seven years in prison.
The young white female jogger was left for dead in the park, so badly raped and beaten that she remained in a coma for several weeks.
Matias Reyes, 31, made his confession from inside prison where he is serving a life sentence for raping three women near Central Park and for raping and killing a pregnant woman. He said he had “found religion”.
Calling for the five convictions to be overturned, Mr Morgenthau also said that their convictions for other attacks in the park that night should be likewise dropped.
Supreme Court Justice Charles Tejada is expected to deliver a ruling by 6 February.
Correspondents say that if the five men are cleared, it will almost certainly open the door to civil suits against the city and mean that the five, most of whom are now in their late 20s, will not have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
On the night of the attack, 19 April 1989, dozens of youths roamed Central Park, harassing cyclists and runners in random attacks known as “wilding”.
The 28-year-old woman was left for dead in a pool of mud and blood, but went on to make a full recovery.
She has no memory of what happened, preventing her from helping identify any suspects.
Five black and Hispanic youths – Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise – were arrested soon after the attack.
They were convicted in 1990 after jurors watched their videotaped confessions.
All were released from prison after serving between seven and 12 years, Reuters news agency reports, apart from Mr Santana, who is still in custody on a separate charge.
Lawyers for the five argued that the “confessions” had been extracted by force and should not have been used in court.
In his confession, Reyes said he had raped the jogger, struck her head with a rock and left her for dead, acting alone all the time.
“I was a monster,” he said on TV. “I did some real bad things to so many people and harmed them in so many ways.”
DNA tests conducted this May linked him to the rape while failing to establish any connection to the five men convicted.
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