$41 Million Awarded To The 'Central Park Five'

Renae Gylbert

On Friday, a long ordeal for the "Central Park Five" came to a very happy ending.

Nearly 25 years ago, a group of minority young men were falsely accused of rape and assault. However, these men were finally exonerated last week.

The award was settled in June of this year, according to the New York Times.

But it was not until this past Friday that a New York judge signed and approved the $41 million settlement. The agreement was reached between the lawyers, the City, and the wrongly convicted.

On April 28th, 1989, a 28-year-old female banker was jogging when she was raped and beaten viciously by what was believed to be unknown assailants in Central Park. To this day, the woman has no recollection of the attack.

The same night, a group of young black and Latino boys were fooling around in the park, throwing rocks at cars and behaving like menaces.

These men would become the "Central Park Five."

Five of these boys were convicted of harming innocent people in the park, including the rape victim. These boys, now men, all served anywhere from seven to 13 years in prison.

CNN says that it was not until 14 years later that the victim, Trisha Meili, who is white, would speak publicly about the 1989 attack in her book I Am the Central Park.

Years later, DNA analysis determined that none of the convicted men had anything to do with Meili's attack.

In fact, CNN reports that serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes admitted to the solo attack in 2002.

Of the wrongly convicted men -- Kharey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana Jr. -- three of them completed their prison sentences. All of them will receive roughly $1 million for each year locked up.

Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter said last week that the conviction was a clear injustice, though it does not suggest that law enforcement used misconduct during the ordeal.

"To the extent that the evidence suggests that these five young men were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to substantial prison terms for a crime they did not commit, that in and of itself constitutes an injustice in need of redress. [The settlement] should not be construed as an acknowledgment that the convictions... were the result of law enforcement misconduct."

Carter added that with the resources available to them at the time, all legal parties acted within reason. However, an injustice was still done to the "Central Park Five."

The 1989 event sparked a growing distrust between minority communities and the New York police. In fact, an independent film, The Central Park Five, written and produced by Ken Burns, Sara Burns, and David McMahon, was released in 2012. The documentary received a Peabody Award in 2013.

[Image via New York Daily News]