More than 30 years after he took out a full-page New York Times advertisement demanding the death penalty for five teenagers who were accused of a vicious attack and rape of a female jogger in New York's Central Park, Donald Trump on Tuesday once again refused to apologize to the five now adult men who served 13 years in prison for the crime — even though, as The Inquisitr has reported, they were exonerated and released 17 years ago.
The "Central Park Jogger" case caused widespread panic and outrage in 1989, and police quickly arrested the five teens, all of them African-American or Latino. The five teens — Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, and Korey Wise — said at the time that they were forced into signing confessions by police detectives who held them for hours, questioning them without lawyers or even their parents present, about the rape and beating of the jogger, who was a white Wall Street investment banker named Trisha Meili, according to The New York Times.
But a judge accepted their "confessions," though none actually confessed to committing the crime, only implicating the others. The five youths were convicted of the horrific assault, as The New York Times recalled.
Less than one month after the crime and arrests, Trump paid a reported $85,000, according to a USA Today report, for a full-page ad in The New York Times demanding the death penalty for the five teens.
In 2002, a convicted serial rapist named Matias Reyes confessed to the brutal attack on the jogger, as Newsweek recounted, and DNA evidence confirmed that his confession was truthful.But Trump has repeatedly been asked about the case, and has refused to say that he was wrong, insisting that the five are actually guilty despite the DNA evidence clearing them, as he did again on Tuesday when asked by White House press corps journalist April Ryan, according to Time.com, and seen in the video below. "They confessed," Trump said in 2002 after the men were exonerated, according to a PBS history of the case. "Now they say they didn't do it. Who am I supposed to believe?"
The case is the subject of the recent Netflix miniseries When They See Us, which includes contemporary footage of Trump, who declared in a 1989 interview, "I hate these people, and let's all hate these people because maybe hate is what we need."
New York City agreed to a settlement of $40 million with the five exonerated men in 2014, and at that time, Trump called the settlement "a disgrace," in an op-ed published by The New York Daily News.
In 2016, during his presidential campaign, Trump was again asked about his role in the Central Park 5 case, according to CNN, saying, "They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty."
On Tuesday, Ryan gave Trump another chance to retract his earlier statements about the exonerated men, and issue an apology for demanding their deaths. But again, Trump refused, saying "you have people on both sides" of the exoneration.
"They admitted their guilt," Trump said again on Tuesday, as quoted by BuzzFeed News. "If you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should've never settled that case. So we'll leave it at that."
False confessions are not an unusual phenomenon, as a previous Netflix series covered by The Inquisitr, The Confession Tapes, revealed. According to The New York Times, 28 percent of defendants exonerated by DNA evidence had confessed falsely.