Central Park Five case prosecutor resigns from Columbia Law School

Brenda Watkins
June 13, 2019

This time, Columbia University was forced to see and hear members of the distinguished Black Law Student Association as these future legal lions roared across this prestigious, picturesque Ivy League institution and called for the resignation of Elizabeth Lederer, a lead prosecutor in the Central Park Five case and a lecturer on their campus.

The series, directed by Ava DuVernay, details the wrongful conviction of the teens, who were accused of brutally raping jogger Trisha Meili in Central Park.

"I've enjoyed my years teaching at CLS, and the opportunity it has given me to interact with the many fine students who elected to take my classes", Lederer said in a statement provided by the school. It depicts Lederer aggressively prosecuting the five boys, despite misgivings, the Times said.

A prosecutor in the Central Park Five trial has left her post at Columbia Law School in the latest fallout from the portrayal of the case in a Netflix miniseries.

According to a letter sent by Dean Gillian Lester to students on Wednesday and obtained by PEOPLE, Lederer told Lester that she had made a decision to not renew her teaching application for the next year due to the public backlash from the recently released Netflix series When They See Us. The city settled with the men in 2014, and they were awarded $41 million. "During the investigation, Lederer and her colleagues used harmful, racist tactics, including physical abuse and coercion, to force confessions from the five minors".

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In a statement, they wrote they hope the school join them and take action in removing Lederer from their teaching community.

Ava DuVernay's mini-series When They See Us, about the Central Park Five, has been the most watched series on Netflix in the US every day since it premiered on May 31, according to the streaming platform. Lederer was the assistant district attorney in 1990 and is still employed by the district attorney's office in Manhattan.

In 2002, there were exonerated by the New York State Supreme Court only because a fellow inmate came forward to confess - even though there was never any DNA evidence linking them to the crime.

They claim thousands of Columbia students have signed petitions demanding the firing of Lederer. "I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most hard issues of our time".

Fairstein's book publisher dropped her last week and she resigned from multiple nonprofit boards in the wake of the series' release.

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