Central Park 5 prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer resigns from Columbia Law School amid backlash from Netflix series
After former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein, Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lederer has resigned from her position at Columbia Law School, following backlash from the student body owing to her involvement in the 'Central Park Five' case.
Lederer, who taught as a part-time lecturer at the law school, resigned on Wednesday. The student body reportedly wanted her fired, after Netflix's new miniseries about the case, 'When They See Us' premiered. Her character was played by Vera Farmiga in the Netflix original by Ava DuVernay. Lederer remains a prosecutor with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The storm of controversy emerged from Lederer’s role in the 1989 prosecution case, where five minor black males were wrongfully accused of raping a white female jogger in Central Park. Lederer prosecuted Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam, who went on to be known as the Central Park Five. The case had a dearth of evidence and their confessions were coerced by the cops. The teens spent 6-13 years in prison, following which, a serial sex offender named Matias Reyes confessed to raping Trisha Meili, the jogger.
She reportedly said in a statement that the backlash had made her reconsider her position. "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. However, given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case, it is best for me not to renew my teaching application,” she said.
Law School Dean Gillian Lester said in a statement that the mini-series has reignited a painful and vital national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice. "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 difficult issues of our time,” Lester said.