Central Park Five Prosecutor Linda Fairstein Complains About Her Portrayal In ‘When They See Us’

Linda Fairstein speaks at an event.
PAUL HAWTHORNE / Getty Images

Linda Fairstein believes that her role in the controversial Central Park Five case is being misconstrued in the hit Netflix series When They See Us and stands by her decision to prosecute the five young teenagers wrongly accused in the case.

Fairstein was featured prominently in the series, where she is portrayed by actress Felicity Huffman, with much of the focus on the Manhattan District Attorney’s decision to push forward with the case despite a lack of evidence and conflicting testimony from the boys accused of raping and severely beating a jogger. Fairstein is now speaking out against her portrayal in the series.

The 72-year-old, who has since left her position and found a successful career as a crime novelist, wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday where she stood by the decision to prosecute the boys.

She claimed that the five were a group of rioters who attacked other people and committed crimes in Central Park the night that jogger Trisha Meili was attacked.

“Eight others were attacked, including two men who were beaten so savagely that they required hospitalization for head injuries,” Fairstein wrote.

Another man later confessed to attacking and raping the jogger, saying he acted alone that night. His DNA was the only one to match to the scene, and the men who had spent years in prison for the crime were exonerated. Fairstein wrote that she believes the Central Park Five may not have raped the woman, but said that does not mean they never harmed her.

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When They See Us has put intense scrutiny of Linda Fairstein’s role in prosecuting the teenagers. It showed how the five were interviewed by detectives without parents or lawyers present, held for hours without access to food or drink or any breaks. Critics said the confessions were heavily coerced, evident by the fact that they all told different stories about the attack with details that often did not match the facts about how and when it took place.

Linda Fairstein has already seen a significant pushback since When They See Us debuted at the end of May, including a campaign online to #CancelLindaFairstein. The former prosecutor’s book publisher responded to the controversy by ending her contract, the BBC reported. Dutton, which works under the Penguin Random House umbrella, announced that had cut its relationship with the former New York prosecutor and would no longer publish her series of crime novels.