The Central Park 5 will finally be awarded their settlement by New York City. A federal judge approved the city’s $41 million settlement on Friday, after a battle that has stretched over decades. 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 will each receive more than $7 million as compensation for the nearly six years they each spent in prison. Korey Wise, who spent nearly 13 years in prison, will receive more than $12 million.
In 2002, a New York inmate named Matias Reyes, who was serving time for rape and murder, confessed to attacking and raping Melli. Then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced that DNA evidence from the crime scene matched Reyes’ DNA. Morgenthau vacated the convictions against the Central Park Five and said he wouldn’t seek a retrial. He stopped short, however, of saying the men were innocent.
Similarly, Friday’s settlement stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing by the city.
During his time in office, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought the Central Park Five’s lawsuit against the city. However, his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, promised during his 2013 campaign 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. But one has to wonder how much of that money is going to attorney fees?