NEW YORK – A lawyer for five men wrongfully convicted in the vicious 1989 rape of a Central Park jogger said Friday that the release of investigative records to let them “relive the horror” of their experience.
“The stigma that they are these horrible animals involved in wilding, has followed them through their life,” said Jonathan Moore, one of the many lawyers who secured a $41 million settlement in 2014 for their account.
Moore said that he had spoken on Friday with the men of the city released thousands of pages of research documents Thursday, ranging from witness interviews to scraps of scribbled notes.
“For them it is more reliving the horror of what they experienced instead of being happy it all came out,” he said. “They get emotional about what happened and be affected to this day but they do it not with bitterness and hatred.”
Almost all of the documents that were part of the process-verbal or were shared with lawyers who prepared a defense for the black and Latino teenagers who became known as the Central Park Five.
They served six to 13 years in prison for the convictions were tossed in 2002 after evidence linked Matias Reyes, a murderer and serial rapist, until the attack.
The victim, who is white, was found with more than 75 percent of her blood drained from her body and her skull smashed. She was in a coma for 12 days, suffered permanent damage and remembers nothing of the attack.
At the time, she was a 28-year-old banker who ran regularly in Central Park.
The attack occurred as the city was reaching a peak of 2000 annual murders. Reports that young people were roaming the park and attacking people gave rise to the term “wilding” for urban mayhem by marauding teenagers.
The jogger, Trisha Meili, told the New York Daily News, she was eager to see the documents, because they contain information that they never had access to.
The Associated Press usually does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Meili went public as a motivational speaker and wrote a book.
Moore said the release of documents that do not contain revelations “to change someone’s opinion about what happened.”
“There is no smoking gun, there are some who say: these children are actually guilty and do not deserve a cent,” he said. “We don’t even have to learn more about the behavior of the police.”
Of the Central Park Five, only one lives in the vicinity of New York more, Moore said. The three live in the neighborhood of each other. Most are in the education of the children. Some of the work, including speaking engagements.
“Despite the fact that they still have some money, they have never recovered from the emotional trauma,” the lawyer said.
Asked to comment on the document release, a city office spokesman declined.
In a web site introduction, the city said the records are much of the more than 200,000 pages and 95 witness interviews exchanged between lawyers during the civil case.
It is also noted that the reach of the $41 million settlement, “the city and the individual civil defendants have denied that the beliefs of the five civil parties arising out of any unauthorized or otherwise unlawful act.”