$40 Million Settlement In Central Park 5 Case That Symbolized NYC “Wilding”


Five men whose convictions in the 1989 beating and rape of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park were later overturned have agreed to a settlement of about $40 million to resolve a bitterly fought civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment in the sensational crime, the New York Times reports. The agreement between the city's Law Department and the five plaintiffs would bring to an end a legal battle over a crime the Times says “came to symbolize a sense of lawlessness in New York, amid reports of ‘wilding’ youths and a marauding ‘wolf pack’ that set its sights on a 28-year-old investment banker.”

The deal must be approved by the city comptroller and a federal judge. The initial story told by police and prosecutors was that a band of young people had mercilessly beaten and sexually assaulted the jogger. The story quickly exploded into the public psyche, fanned by politicians and sensational news reports that served to inflame racial tensions. The five black and Hispanic men, ages 14 to 16, claimed that their incriminating statements were coerced by the authorities. In 2002, an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau found DNA and other evidence that the woman had been raped and beaten by another man, Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist and murderer who confessed to acting alone in the attack.

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