Linda Fairstein calls Netflix’s ‘When They See Us’ an ‘outright fabrication’

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Linda Fairstein, the Manhattan prosecutor who oversaw the “Central Park Five” case, slammed director Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series as “so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”

Fairstein’s full-throated defense is in response to backlash for her role in the convictions — as depicted in DuVernay’s miniseries “When They See Us.”


“Ms. DuVernay’s film attempts to portray me as an overzealous prosecutor and a bigot, the police as incompetent or worse, and the five suspects as innocent of all charges against them,” Fairstein wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. “None of this is true.”

The former head of the Manhattan sex crimes unit went on to point out a series of the “film’s most egregious falsehoods,” including that the suspects were held without food, not allowed to see their parents or use the bathroom.

“If that had been true, surely they would have brought those issues up and prevailed in pretrial hearings on the voluntariness of their statements, as well as in their lawsuit against the city,” Fairstein noted. “They didn’t, because it never happened.”

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernayGetty Images

She also shot back against her portrayal in the series.

“In the first episode, the film portrays me at the precinct station house before dawn on April 20, the day after the attacks, unethically engineering the police investigation and making racist remarks,” she said. “In reality, I didn’t arrive until 8 p.m., 22 hours after the police investigation began, did not run the investigation, and never made any of the comments the screenwriter attributes to me.”

The five teens, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, were convicted in the 1989 rape and assault of Central Park jogger Trisha Meili. Those convictions were vacated in 2002.

The lawyer-turned-New York Times bestselling author said she agreed with exonerations of the rape charges against the five — but said “the other charges, for crimes against other victims, should not have been vacated.”

Fairstein, who’s penned 24 books, was dropped by her publisher following the May 31 release of “When They See Us.”

She’s also stepped down from several nonprofit positions after the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein began trending.



By Lia Eustachewich

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