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Central Park Five Prosecutor Resigns Vassar Trustee Board

Amidst a swarm of controversy over a Netflix series about a wrongful conviction in a high-profile New York City rape case, author and former prosecutor Linda Fairstein has resigned as a trustee of her alma mater, Vassar College.

Linda FairsteinLinda Fairstein

Fairstein, who graduated in 1969, was a prosecutor in the 1989 case commonly known as the “Central Park jogger” case. The Netflix limited series “When They See Us” dramatizes the story, which centers on five teenage boys of color who were wrongfully convicted in the crime.

There were complaints that the confessions of the Central Park Five, as the defendants came to be known, were coerced. Their convictions were overturned in 2002 after Matias Reyes, a convicted serial rapist, confessed.

The city settled with the men in 2014, paying them $41 million.

Emotions stirred by the Netflix series led to petitions calling for Fairstein’s removal from Vassar’s board and urging a boycott of her books, as well as a #CancelLindaFairstein movement on social media.

“I am told that Ms. Fairstein felt that, given the recent widespread debate over her role in the Central Park case, she believed that her continuing as a board member would be harmful to Vassar,” Vassar president Dr. Elizabeth H. Bradley wrote this week in an online message.

Fairstein headed up the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan district attorney’s office from 1976 to 2002 and later became a successful mystery writer.

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