*Decades after proclaiming their innocence of a crime they supposedly committed – the gang rape and savage beating of a successful, 28-year-old investment banker who jogged regularly in Central Park, the “Central Park 5” will finally be awarded their settlement by New York City. The $41 million settlement was approved by a federal judge on Friday. The five men were wrongfully convicted in the 1990 Central Park rape case that was marred with forced confessions and police corruption.
“It’s a long time coming and we’re grateful that this chapter in our lives can finally be put to rest, and we can concentrate on other things,” Raymond Santana said in an interview.
“But it still doesn’t take away what we went through and all the obstacles we had to overcome,” he added.
Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson, who served years in prison before a serial rapist confessed to the crime and DNA supported the attack, will each receive more than $7 million as compensation for the nearly six years they each spent in prison. Kharey Wise, who spent nearly 13 years in prison, will receive more than $12 million.
According to The Huffington Post Matias Reyes, an inmate in a New York prison in 2002 serving time for rape and murder, confessed to the attack and rape and DNA evidence from the crime scene matched Reyes’. Robert Morgenthau, who was Manhattan DA at the time, vacated the convictions against the Central Park Five and said he wouldn’t seek a retrial. But he stopped short of saying the men were innocent.
Though Friday’s settlement is a done deal, the admittance of any wrongdoing by the city was never brought up.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg put up a fight against the lawsuit filed by the Central Park Five against the city. But Mayor Bill de Blasio, his successor made it a point to address during his 2013 campaign and promised to settle the lawsuit. In June of this year, the city announced a tentative settlement.
“An injustice was done and we have a moral obligation to respond to that injustice,”de Blasio said at the time.
Days later, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced his approval of the settlement, calling it “a prudent and equitable solution for all parties to the lawsuit and [one that] closes a very difficult chapter in our city’s history.”
And finally 25 years later, vindication.