On the morning of April 20, 1989 few people took note of the fact that it was the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday. Americans opened their newspapers to discover that there had been an explosion in the Number Two turret of the battleship USS Iowa the day before. The explosion had sent a 3000 degree flame front rushing downward into the ship at 2000 feet per second, killing 47 sailors. Yesterday had been National Garlic Day. There was a mention in the New York newspapers that a woman had been raped in Central Park.
Over the following days, reporters would ferret out the details of the rape; they would tell the city how 33 black and Hispanic teens had gone on a criminal rampage on the night of April 19, 1989, “just for fun.” The teens called their criminal funfests “wilding.” Five of the teens who were apprehended that night confessed to their participation in attacks on at least nine joggers and cyclists that evening, including the gang-rape assault that left a white woman in a coma and hovering near death. These five teenagers were convicted in 1990 for their confessed participation in the gang rape. All five convicts have served their prison terms.
Thirteen years after their conviction a man named Matias Reyes insisted that he alone had assaulted and raped the woman jogger that night. The prosecution had always known that most of the jogger’s attackers had eluded apprehension; she was probably attacked by a dozen teenagers. DNA samples taken from the victim did not match any of the five convicted teens; testing of these samples proved that Matias Reyes had raped the jogger. The big question now was: did Matias Reyes act alone or was he just trying to robe himself in an empowering mythology; he was, after all, an amoral psychopath who talked of wanting to become a super hero like those guys in the comics. He has an IQ of 76.
The entire rape case had been a black eye for Harlem and the spokesfolks for Harlem; the radical preachers and leftist lawyers were quick to believe every word that Matias Reyes spoke. They demanded nothing less than the complete exoneration of the minority youths they called the Jogger Five. To hear them tell it, these innocent boys were just the victims of a racist white power structure, racist cops, a racist criminal justice system and an uncaring society. No justice, no peace! So what happened that night in 1989?
The Crime: April 19, 1989
A full moon hung over Harlem, the “Capital of Black America.” It was a Wednesday, what suburbanites call a school night, but the countless youngsters who roamed the streets of Harlem as the night deepened felt no urge to return home and rest up for another day of scholarship.
By 8:30 in the evening a loose gang of Harlem “youths,” aged 12 to sixteen, had gathered at 117th Street and Madison Avenue in front of the Schomburg Plaza. They were just “hanging out” with nothing to do. Then someone suggested that they all go “wilding.” Energized by this idea, the gang set off for Central Park. As they neared the park, they met and joined another group of Harlem teenagers who were loose on the streets. They were a pack of 33 to 40 when they entered the park at 8:50 p.m. intent on raising hell, just for the fun of it. One of these young gangsters, Raymond Santana, recalled: “We planned to rob joggers and cyclists inside Central Park . . .I counted 33 people who were going into the park to rip people off.” They swarmed through the 110th Street entrance to the park and began their violent rampage.
Their first victim was a homeless man, Antonio Diaz, whom the gang knocked to the ground, brutally beat, and then dumped in the bushes. They were having fun. They roved south to 101st Street, where they formed a gauntlet that ensnared two tandem cyclists, Gerald Malone and Patricia Dean. Ms. Dean recalled: “I was terrified. They were grabbing at my legs and pushing at my shoulders. They were making animal noises, grunting.” Mr. Malone and Ms. Dean escaped these demons of the night; British jogger Robert Garner was not as fortunate. He was thrown down an embankment and beaten. He believed that he “was going to die.” John Laughlin, a teacher, was thrown face down and beaten with a pipe until he was a bloody mess. Mr. Laughlin recounted: “I yelled out ‘Fellas, why are you doing this to me? Stop!’” They were wasted words; the Harlem “youth” were having fun.
At least nine people were mindlessly savaged that April evening. At 10:05 this loose posse of teenagers crossed paths with a 28-year-old white woman who was jogging in Central Park to relax after a long day at Salomon Brothers, where she worked as an investment banker. She was a pretty Wellesley College grad from Pennsylvania and a rising star at Salomon Brothers. She was pounding her way across the park’s 102nd Street transverse on her nightly jog.
From the instant the wilding wolf pack spotted her it was a case of Beauty and the Beasts. They swarmed over her, they dragged her into a ravine where she was raped, tortured and savagely battered beyond recognition. They left her for dead.
Later, as the wolf pack drifted out of the park, the cops spotted a dozen teenagers on Central Park West at 100th Street and moved in. The police were on the lookout for the perps who had attacked so many innocent people earlier that evening. The police didn’t yet know about the woman lying unconscious in a lake of her own blood at the bottom of a ravine deep in the park. At the sight of the police, the punks scattered. The cops apprehended only a few of them. Among the catch of the night were Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Steve Lopez, Clarence Thomas and LaMont McCall. They were taken to the Central Park station house.
Sometime around 4 a.m. the next morning, Thursday, the cops were about to spring these suspects with summonses for assault when a call came in from Detective Jose Rosario who had responded to the discovery of an unconscious woman in the park. Two male joggers had chanced upon her comatose body at 1 a.m. Detective Rosario wanted the teens held for further questioning.
Suspects McCall and Thomas were tight lipped, but Kevin Richardson, who was questioned in the presence of his mother, Grace Cuffen, was more forthcoming. When questioned about the scratch on his face, Richardson finally blurted out, “All right. It was the girl. She scratched me when we had the fight.” Richardson handwrote a statement that implicated Raymond Santana and Steve Lopez. He pointed the finger at Antron McCray. The final line of Richardson’s handwritten statement reads: “I was the one that didn’t rape her.”
In the presence of two detectives and his grandmother, Raymond Santana said: “Antron came and started ripping her clothes off. Antron pulled her pants off and she was screaming . . .Kevin pulled down his pants and had sex with her. When she was on the floor, I grabbed her tits . . .I did not have sex with her.”
According to Detective Mike Sheehan, as he was transporting Raymond Santana uptown Santana said, “I had nothing to do with the rape of that lady. All I did was touch her tits.”
Antron McCray, who was picked up after being fingered by Kevin Richardson, was taken to the 20th Precinct for questioning in the presence of his parents Bobby and Linda. When questioning seemed at a standstill, McCray’s father stepped outside with Detective Gonzales. According to Det.Gonzales, Mr. McCray “said he knew his son very well and that he wasn’t giving us all the information and that maybe it would be better if the mother wasn’t there.” After Linda McCray departed, Antron became a fountain of information. “He described exactly how the female jogger was attacked, who hit her,” said Det. Harry Hildebrandt. “How he kicked her. How her clothes were ripped off and how different individuals, including himself being number three, jumped on her.”
Within a day the cops had taken custody of Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise. Salaam denied that he was even in the park that night, so Det. McKenna tested Salaam with one small lie: the detective told the suspect that the police crime laboratory was able to lift fingerprints from the jogger’s clothing. He told Salaam: “We have the jogger’s pants. They’re satin. They’re a very smooth surface and we have been able to get fingerprints off them. If they match, you’re going for rape.” Knowing where his hands had been, Yusef Salaam began to spill: “I was there but I didn’t rape her.”
In his second interview, suspect Kharey Wise admitted: “This is my first thing I did to any type of female in the street. This is my first rape. I never did this before, and this is gonna be my last time doing it.” Kharey Wise recalled: “They were going to kill her so she won’t identify us. Yusef say, ‘Don’t kill her, man. Bad enough you’re raping her. . .’” And, “Kevin and Raymond picked up a rock. Kevin hit her in the face with a rock . . .Steve was using a knife to cut her legs. I moved out of the way. Blood was scattering all over the place. I couldn’t look at it no more.”
The police charged six teens for rape: Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez. As the jogger clung to life at Metropolitan Hospital, people across the city prayed for her recovery. Strangers erected a makeshift shrine at the site of her savage attack. Meanwhile, the perps were laughing it up in a 24th Precinct holding cell, singing the Tone Loc lyrics “That’s what happens when the bodies start slappin’, doin’ the wild thing.”
The monstrous gang rape and savage beating of a small defenseless white woman by a roaming wolf pack of young black and Hispanic males was bad news for Harlem. Everything about the attack confirmed the darkest suspicions of many already wary New Yorkers. This particular crime raised some nasty questions about what was passing for parenting up in Harlem. Were the anti-white messages that Harlem’s parents had been communicating to their children having criminal consequences? Had black culture, from its preachers to its rap artists, created an atmosphere which encouraged Harlem’s offspring to break the rules?
New York City’s black activists, its radical-left preachers and editors, felt a need to respond. Their response was the same old time-worn formula of denial and defamation. Al Sharpton rushed a busload of his standby protesters to the courthouse steps. During the trial Sharpton’s scripted foot soldiers sent down from Sharpton’s National Action Network chanted that the victim’s boyfriend had attacked her; they shouted “The boyfriend did it!” They repeatedly called the horribly brutalized victim “a whore.” The Reverend Sharpton had provided his well-rehearsed goon squad with the rape victim’s name, which these boneheads shouted countless times to the eager media camera crews. The ever-so-reverend Al Sharpton even sank so low as to deny that the little white woman, who had been battered beyond recognition, had even been raped. Proclaimed the Reverend Sharpton: “We’re not endorsing the damage to the girl . . .if there was this damage.”
Sharpton was stage-directing this disgusting performance only two years after he and Alton Maddox had conspired to orchestrate publicity for Tawana Brawley’s notorious rape hoax. Sharpton was still insisting that Tawana was the victim of a sweeping cover-up by the White Power Structure. In an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the prosecution in the Central Park rape case, Sharpton brought Tawana Brawley to the courthouse for a photo-op during which Ms. Brawley shook hands with the five defendants. It was a surreal moment during which the grinning faux rape victim did her best to cast an aura of innocence over five vicious sex criminals: black solidarity trumped sisterhood as Tawana betrayed all rape victims under the approving gaze of Al Sharpton. Though the victim’s identity was known to the press, no decent reporter would publish her name. The glaring exceptions were all black-owned newspapers which made a point of splashing her name all over the place. To the black press, the thirty punks who brutalized nine innocent people in Central Park on the evening of April 19, 1989 couldn’t possibly have also attacked this one woman. She must be made to go away; she must be denounced as a whore; “the boyfriend did it!” Harlem’s response to the gang rape of this one little white woman gave the rest of America deeper insight into the black psyche and that insight wasn’t pretty.
One of the black lawyers for the five confessed rapists, Michael W. Warren, disparaged the woman who was gang raped and battered as “a white woman of privilege.” In the upside-down moral universe of left-wing lawyers white girls who study hard and get good grades and become productive employees and model citizens are the moral inferiors of feral young gangsters who roam the parks beneath a full moon and swarm upon the unsuspecting, beating them with bricks and rocks and pipes, punching them and stomping them and slashing them with knives. The implication was that this “white woman of privilege” got what she deserved. What business did any white person have jogging on the sacred soil of Harlem, anyway?
That the five apprehended rapists all admitted to their complicity in a vicious felony meant nothing to Rep. Charles Rangle (D-Manhattan) who attended a rally in support of the convicts at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Harlem and announced: “These kids were convicted long before they came into court.” In other words, they’re just racial martyrs to white racism, just like poor little Tawana Brawley.
Perhaps Yusef Salaam was just joking when he said: “We hid in the trees, and we saw a female jogger coming. Kevin ran out and punched her.” Salaam’s written statement says he struck her with a pipe as she struggled to escape and “she went down.” He added: “She was still struggling so I hit her again.”
Later, after being carefully coached by black lawyers and activists, Mr. Salaam denied everything in his written statement. On the witness stand he said he had no idea that roaming gangs of black teens were out to rob and beat innocent strangers. He admitted under oath that he was carrying a 12-inch iron pipe in Central Park that evening, but he said it belonged to a friend. Of course it belonged to a friend. Haven’t we all walked around at night carrying our friends’ 12-inch pieces of iron pipe? He looked sharp in his newly-purchased suit and tie.
The entire defense argument sounded just this stupid. In the first trial, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and Raymond Santana were convicted of rape and assault but acquitted of attempted murder. They were sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison under juvenile law. Three months later, Kevin Richardson and Kharey Wise were tried. The jury found their confessions persuasive. A blond pubic hair was found on Richardson’s shirt; a blond head hair was found on his underpants. This evidence was presented at his trial. More sophisticated DNA analytical techniques have since proven that these hairs were not from the jogger. So who were they from? Did Richardson assault another white woman that night? Blood taken from a rock near the crime scene was not the jogger’s blood. Whose blood was it? Was another white woman raped in Central Park that night, a woman who was too ashamed to admit that she was raped by a black wolf pack? Even with this evidence staring them in the face, not one news organization would even broach this question.
The jury deliberated for twelve days before convicting Richardson of attempted murder and Kharey Wise of sexual abuse and assault. Richardson was sentenced as a juvenile to 5 to 10 years. Wise was given 5 to 15 years as an adult. Richardson’s lawyer, Howard Diller, admitted: “They convicted themselves with their own statements. We could not overcome them.” A month later, Steve Lopez was allowed to plead guilty to robbing a man in Central Park; he had not confessed to rape. The other seven punks who participated in the bestial gang rape of the little white woman in Central Park that evening, but had eluded apprehension, just faded back into Harlem.
Harlem Says They’re Innocent
In their effort to win complete exoneration for the Jogger Five, those people “who always believed” in the innocence of the convicted rapists can offer no decisive evidence that the convicted rapists are not guilty; they can only offer the time-worn tactic of undermining the public’s faith in the police and the courts. Their friends at the left-leaning New York Times ferreted out one professor of psychology who would be willing to criticize the Jogger Five confessions in print. He is less than convincing.
In his article False Confessions and the Jogger Case Professor Saul Kassin says that “Every confession begins with a simple stripped-down admission: ‘I did it.’ But that’s not enough to prove guilt because people are too easily coaxed into compliance. To tell whether an admission is true, investigators seek proof in the form of a full post-admission narrative – a story from the suspect that tells what he did, how, when, where and why.” So far, so good.
The professor goes on to say that there are ways to assess the believability of a confession. He says we should search for factors that would increase the likelihood of coercion, “like the age and competency of the suspect as well as the conditions of custody and interrogation.” He adds, “Coercion increases the risk of a false confession, but does not guarantee it. Coerced confessions can be true. . .” He says, “A second step requires considering whether the confession contains details that are consistent with the statements of others, accurate in their match to the facts of the crime and lead to evidence unknown to the police.”
Professor Kassin then begins his assault on the Jogger Five confessions by admitting up front that “In the jogger case, the confessions appear voluntary, textured with detail, and the product of personal experience.” He then frets that the suspects were teenagers, “making them more compliant than the average adult.” He then tries to downplay the intimate presence of parents and guardians during the interrogations as though their presence were in dispute. This Williams College wizard is bothered that interrogations were conducted, on and off, for 14 or more hours. He does not mention that at the time of their apprehension the police knew nothing about the woman who was approaching death in a darkened Central Park ravine. The teens were being questioned about their assaults on nine other victims earlier in the night. The teens were near release when word came to the crowded station house that a woman had been savagely beaten; the suspects were then held for further questioning about this additional crime, so the total length of interrogation time was not a police tactic to extract confessions. Linda Fairstein, who resigned in February 2003 as head of the sex crimes unit after 30 years in the DA’s office, insists there was no coercion: “This was not an Alabama jail where two guys who have been partners for years put a guy in a back room and he doesn’t see light of day for three days.” She said that “for most of them, the substance of their admissions came out within about an hour of the time they came in.” The suspects were not handcuffed; they were interrogated in special ‘youth rooms’, not in bare interrogation rooms. She recalled that three of the five suspects went home and had a refreshing night’s sleep before they were taken in and nobody under 16 was quizzed until a parent or guardian arrived. Ms. Fairstein adds: “The consistency from their original admissions to the police, to their written statements, to the final video is really remarkable.” And: “I don’t think there’s a question in the minds of anyone present during the interrogation process that these five men were participants . . .in the attack on the jogger.”
Professor Kassin says, “The Central Park confessions are compelling precisely because they are so vividly detailed. Yet the narratives are filled with inconsistencies, contradictions and errors.” What the professor doesn’t tell us is that all eyewitness accounts of intensely emotional experiences include inconsistencies and errors. This gang rape was perpetrated by a pack of perhaps a dozen sexually excited teenagers at a dimly lit crime scene. They were engaged in a frantic ritual of male bonding, but the professor is bothered by Antron McCray’s mis-remembrance of what the jogger was wearing that night, as though she were his prom date. The professor doesn’t wonder if Antron can remember what the other nine victims were wearing in the park that night. Does Antron remember what the other twelve rapists were wearing? Why would Antron, or any of the other suspects, commit such random details to memory?
At one time it was believed that women made lousy eyewitnesses to crimes, so fictional crimes were staged under controlled conditions to find out why this was so. After the “crime,” male and female witnesses were asked to recall details of the staged performance. It was discovered that women were no worse than men as witnesses, but women tended to remember different details than did men. Men, as a group, were better at remembering the make and model of automobiles, the type of firearm used, dogs, and other men at the crime scene. Women were better at remembering the presence of children and other women and what people were wearing at the crime scene. So Professor Kassin can stop fretting about the fact that Antron didn’t remember that the jogger was wearing black tights and a long-sleeve jersey: guys just don’t remember such stuff and we shouldn’t expect them to remember it. The Central Park crime scene was a mass of confusion, something more akin to a night battle than to a garden party; the perps were concentrating on their sexual excitement, not on their victim’s fashion choices.
The most compelling aspect of the confessions is the fact that each of the suspects places himself at the crime scene, and each of them places other suspects at the crime scene. Inconsistencies between their confessions are largely due to their attempts to minimize their own criminal behavior. Their descriptions of how the jogger was punched, kicked, beaten with a rock and cut with a knife are more consistent with the forensic evidence than Matias Reyes’s assertion that he hit her with a tree stump and a rock. The professor insists that “a confession proves guilt if the accurate facts it contains are knowable only to the perpetrator.” The professor doesn’t mention that Kevin Richardson, immediately after his apprehension, right after he got in the police car, blurted out, “Antron did it.”
“Antron did what?” the cop inquired.
“The murder,” Richardson responded.
Richardson thought the little woman jogger was dead; he and Antron had left her for dead, but the police had yet to discover this crime: it was a fact known only to the perpetrators.
The professor finally admits that “this multi-step analysis does not compel the conclusion that the confessions were false.” Thanks for nothing, Professor Kassin.
Former Judge Theodore Kupferman, who served on the panel that upheld the conviction of Yusef Salaam, said that he doubts the detectives could have obtained false confessions from all five suspects: “The fact that they all seem to jibe seems strange to me if they’re not true.” When Yusef Salaam appealed his conviction, the majority opinion of the Court of Appeals was that the police employed no unlawful “deception or trickery” to obtain his conviction. The lone dissenter was Judge Vito Titone who was troubled that Yusef Salaam, who was 15, was denied the presence of his aunt during the early part of his interrogation, but Yusef had only himself to blame. Under New York law a suspect who is 16 years old can be interrogated alone. Yusef had insisted that he was 16 and he produced a bogus transit pass to convince the police. After Yusef’s aunt convinced the cops that Yusef was, in fact, 15 years old, the interrogation was immediately stopped and the aunt was united with her nephew. It may be that Yusef didn’t want his aunt present during his interrogation; a review of the other interrogations suggests that several of the suspects were uncomfortable about spilling the details of their gang rape in front of their female relatives. To characterize Yusef’s interrogation as an attempt to railroad him is nuts.
Defense attorneys are now seeking to have all the convictions vacated under section 440.10 on the grounds of “new evidence.” The new evidence includes the identification of Matias Reyes as a definite rapist of the jogger. The police have known for 13 years that there was a rapist who got away; they estimate that at least a dozen black and Hispanic teens participated in the gang rape, so this is not really new evidence. The defense will also offer as evidence Matias Reyes’s assertion that he acted alone.
Last of all, defense attorneys hope to vacate the convictions on a technicality, which is this: there was another rape in Central Park two days before the April 19th wilding spree. The police did not inform the defense about this rape because it seemed so different from the jogger attack. The police had arrested Matias Reyes, who admitted committing the April 17th assault. Peter Casolaro, senior assistant district attorney, said of Reyes’s confession to the earlier rape: “He didn’t know when it occurred. He didn’t know what time, the name of the victim.” Said Casolaro to Judge Tejada: “It took a great deal of time to determine that there was a crime. Then witnesses had to be tracked down, sometimes in other states.”
This explains why the defense lawyers weren’t informed of the earlier rape, but it also raises another question: how is it that the psychopath who was so confused about the details of a rape he had committed only two days earlier, now has total recall about the details of a rape he committed thirteen years ago? This just doesn’t pass the smell test. DNA evidence proves Reyes is a rapist, but everything that he says about the circumstances of the rape are questionable. One of Matias Reyes’ former attorneys, Richard Siracusa, told Newsday that Reyes is a classic psychopath who is “fully capable of doing what he has confessed to. I don’t think it’s made up, but you never know: guys like that . . .they can’t separate fact from fancy.” Siracusa represented Reyes after Reyes tried to attack his previous court-appointed attorney. At sentencing, Reyes punched Siracusa in the face.
The police have been criticized for not linking Reyes with DNA taken from a semen stain on the jogger’s sock. This is unwarranted. According to Barry Scheck, head of the Innocence Project, the computerized database which today automatically matches identical DNA evidence from different crimes did not exist in 1989. Without this computer-enabled ability to make such matches was not humanly possible for the police to make such a connection between the two crimes.
In their desperation to pin the responsibility for the jogger’s brutalization on Matias Reyes, and on him alone, the defenders of the Jogger Five have created a fictional version of Mr. Reyes that varies wildly from his true self. For example, defenders of the Jogger Five say that Reyes must have acted alone because he acted alone during his other rapes; they want you to believe that this psychopath had a perfectly consistent and unvarying modus operandi, that he was locked into only one mode of criminal behavior. But Reyes’ criminal history demonstrates that this is nonsense; there is no consistency to his behavior; he’s just nuts. He approached a woman in broad daylight, chatted her up, and then tried to molest her; he attacked a pregnant woman in her home and butchered her in front of her children; he raped his own mother; he committed a robbery; he committed a burglary; he committed a sodomy attack; he assaulted people indoors and outdoors, in daylight and at night. Joining a gang rape would have been just the next nutty thing for him to do. Reyes was 18 years old at the time of the Central Park gang rape; he would have fit right in. The suspects said that a guy they knew only as “Tony” committed the actual vaginal penetration. Reyes was using the nickname Tony at the time of the rape. Furthermore, the Jogger Five have said that the gang of about twelve teens who attacked the jogger included strangers whom they could not identify. The fact that this roving mob did not know one another is not unusual. The mob of creeps that molested women after the 2000 Puerto Rican Day parade didn’t know each other either; they were just sharing the spirit of the moment. There were 3,254 rapes reported in New York City in 1989 which averages almost nine every day; the real number is certainly higher. The notion that rape is a rare occurrence in New York City or that Matias Reyes must have raped the jogger all by himself because he had once before attempted to assault a woman in Central Park all by himself is simply preposterous. It’s high time the New York Times stopped stroking the defense team by reporting that Reyes had committed a “nearly identical crime” days earlier. It just isn’t so. And the math-challenged Associated Press should shut up about Reyes being 31 years old and therefore much older than the defendants, “all of whom were 16 or younger at the time.” Who writes this crap! Matias Reyes was 18 years old when he raped the jogger; Kharey Wise is 30 years old today. At the time of the gang rape they were all teenagers. Does an applicant have to fail an IQ test to get a job at the AP?
The Harlem Spokesfolks Mobilize
Now that the man with the 76 IQ who lives in a world of fantasy and says he wants to be a superhero has linked himself to a sexual assault on the jogger, the professional spokesfolks of Harlem have the pretext they need to do the things they yearn to do:
1. pose as righteous victims
2. trash the police and the courts
3. ignore the evidence
A klatch of about 60 black and Hispanic activists held a news conference on the steps of City Hall which included black Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, members of the Black and Hispanic Caucus and radical black church leaders. Long gone were Al Sharpton’s bussed-in protestors chanting the rape victim’s name and calling her a whore. The black publishers who splattered her name all over the front pages of black newspapers were now demanding that the confessed and convicted rapists be declared innocent. The defense lawyers were no longer referring to an “alleged rape.” Everyone made a point of not referring to the victim once again as “a white woman of privilege.”
Prominent in the crowd was black City Councilman Bill Perkins who circulated a document that repeated the rape victim’s name no less than eight times. When he was called on it he said it was just an innocent oversight; the man is a lying scumbag. At least Al Sharpton had enough political smarts not to mention a word about his own sleazy methods when he recalled his role in the Central Park rape case in his autobiography. In all seriousness, Councilman Perkins declared: “There is irrefutable DNA evidence that corroborates the confession of a convicted murderer and rapist that he committed this crime and acted alone!”
Bill Perkins is talking trash. The DNA recovered from the victim’s sock places Matias Reyes at the scene of the crime, but a tiny spot of DNA could never corroborate that Reyes acted alone. No one doubts that over thirty teens went wilding that night. No one has ever questioned the veracity of the teens confessions that they robbed, terrified, bloodied and, in some cases, beat unconscious at least nine innocent strangers. It was their idea of having fun. But when they confessed to running down and sexually molesting a little white woman, Harlem suddenly couldn’t believe its ears. It couldn’t be true. This particular gang of fist-swinging, rock-throwing, pipe-wielding teens would never have crossed that particular line. And why couldn’t it be true? Because the truth would embarrass Harlem, that beautiful creative community that gave the world . . .wilding. That’s the problem with emotional arguments: they have a way of making a person, or a community, look stupid.
Unfortunately, stupid arguments can make damned effective propaganda. The Black and Hispanic Caucus couldn’t care less about being logical or prudent or wise; their aim is to win politically. The purpose of all the photo ops, all the rants, all the We Shall Overcome sing-alongs was to put political pressure on one man: Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
New York’s Criminal Procedure Law Section 440.10 explains how convicts can get their verdicts overturned. Subsection G of the law cites “new evidence” as grounds for seeking the dismissal of a conviction. When he was asked about the rape convictions at a press conference, DA Morgenthau read a prepared statement and said that investigators needed more time to re-interview witnesses and re-read 15,000 pages of transcripts and documents. The Harlem spokesfolks didn’t want any delays; they wanted an instant exoneration. They had to console themselves with rumors that there was a faction within Morgenthau’s office that was arguing in favor of not defending the convictions: the defendants had served their sentences; why get involved in a political struggle?
It was Morgenthau’s decision whether to recommend scrapping the lesser charges of riot and robbery of which the teens were convicted. If all the convictions are overturned, the convicts would still have a difficult time trying to win damages from the city. To win a judgment in civil court they must prove purposeful wrongdoing by the police or the prosecutors.
On October 21, 2002 Judge Tejada faced a courtroom packed with Jogger Five protesters. When he gave prosecutors more time to reexamine the rape case the crowd was not happy; they spilled out of the courthouse to join an angry rally on the sidewalk outside 100 Centre Street where they railed against the judge’s decision to extend the deadline until December fifth. Councilman Perkins (D-Harlem) warned darkly that the convicts’ families were growing impatient with DA Morgenthau and were considering demanding an independent investigation. The mother of Kharey Wise gave the father of Raymond Santana a warm hug. Also at the rally was Sharonne Salaam, mother of Yusef Salaam, looking resplendent in a “Yusef Is Innocent” T-shirt.
Another group of about 20 black folks descended upon Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan to demand an apology from real-estate developer Donald Trump. On May 1, 1989 Mr. Trump had taken out full-page advertisements in four New York newspapers calling for a return of the death penalty. Trump said he wanted the “criminals of every age” who were accused of beating and raping the woman in Central Park “to be afraid.” The protesters began to chant “Trump is a chump!” A lawyer named Roger Wareham, who co-represents Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Antron McCray, said: “We’re here to highlight the role Trump played: mobilizing people to support the death penalty.” The rally was organized by the Brooklyn-based Millions for Reparations, which “opposes the continued racist treatment of African people within the criminal-justice system,” explained the group’s spokeswoman Amadi Ajamu.
The protesters had rather vague ideas about Trumps 600-word advertisements; they misquoted Trump by including words such as “animals” and “wilding” that were nowhere in the ads. The text does not name any of the defendants. The same text ran in the New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post,andNew York Newsday. The total bill set Trump back $85,000 in pocket change. Trump had said “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Was Mr. Trump paraphrasing the Bible?
When Trump wouldn’t apologize for expressing his opinion, the protesters got even more pissed off. Said veteran demonstrator Carol Taylor: “Of course he won’t apologize, because he’s a rich white colorist male who is wallowing in the unearned privilege of his white skin color.” Another protest was already planned for a site near Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. Ms. Taylor opined, “I’ll be there. I think I’ll make my sign bigger.”
At another rally at One Hogan Place, near DA Morgenthau’s office, 20 protesters marched in a circle holding signs that read “A Lynching, Northern Style” and chanting “Drop the charges now.” They were up-staged by a contingent from the National Organization for Women and the Street Harassment Project. The streetwise black protesters confronted the white gals from NOW; they began to shout things like “You helped convict those kids!” The NOW gals sputtered that they endorsed proper arrests. The NOW president in New York, Matthea Marquart, looking small behind a big bouquet of microphones, offered her opinion that a “media circus” had driven the convictions. Someone in the crowd shouted “Stop abortions!” A lady reporter muttered to her camera operator, “This is not going very well.”
Judge Tejada later delayed his final decision until February 6, 2003. He told the defense lawyers that they had until January 6th to respond to DA Morgenthau’s filing on December 5th, 2002. The defense team was not happy; they wanted a rushed judgment and total exoneration; they held an immediate news conference outside Manhattan Criminal Court. Attorney Wareham said the families of the convicts were being made to “suffer needlessly” because of the judge’s caution and the DA’s reexamination of the evidence.
Well, these are the facts: At the station house all five defendants were repeatedly read their rights. Every suspect was asked if he wanted a lawyer; they were all told that if they wanted a lawyer the questioning would instantly stop and a lawyer would be provided to them free of charge. All of them freely declined this generous offer and freely chose to spill their guilty guts. A sixth “youth,” Steve Lopez, refused to make a statement and was not prosecuted for the rape. All of this was captured on video tape. Parents or guardians were present during the interrogations of anyone under 16 years old. All of these jerks placed themselves at the scene of the crime; they all gave richly textured accounts of how they went about the nasty business of ensnaring the woman and then torturing, battering, mutilating and sexually molesting her. Several of these little creeps admitted to holding the white woman down while others took turns raping her. Raymond Santana described how he fondled the woman; others tell how Santana punched the defenseless woman. Kevin Richardson explained how the woman he was attacking had scratched his face; his bloody scratch supported his admission. Others described how Kevin raped the woman and smashed her with a rock.
Police records show that within 7 to 12 hours of their arrests, four of the suspects gave written statements that reflected their oral confessions. There are four hours of video tape, all of it incriminating. They describe beating and robbing strangers in the park; they admit to attacking cyclists and joggers. They assaulted another female jogger and beat two male joggers. They were arrested soon after their crimes and had no opportunity to coordinate their stories, and yet their stories are all of a piece.
According to Yusef Salaam, “We hid in the trees and saw a female jogger coming. Kevin ran out and punched her. She was still struggling, so I hit her again. It was something to do. It was fun.” Each of the five suspects implicated the others. Four of the suspects had their parents present during the interviews. The parents were read the same Miranda warnings as were the suspects. The parents granted their permission for the detectives to question their children without a lawyer.
Now the convicted rapists, their parents and the “activists” who advised them claim that the defendants were the victims of an elaborate police conspiracy. It’s the OJ defense all over again. These are the implications of such a defense: the detectives, their supervisors and the prosecutors would have to conspire to coerce confessions from the teenagers and the parents would have to agree to cooperate in the conspiracy. The investigators must provide every suspect with a detailed script so that all of their confessions would agree. All of the suspects and their parents must agree to give bogus confessions on videotape. And finally, the cops would have to clear their script with the famous psychic reader Miss Cleo, to make certain that when the comatose victim awakened she didn’t expose the conspiracy by giving a completely different version of the assault upon her. But then again, up in Harlem, where everyone just “knows” that the White Power Structure uses tricknology to dupe the poor hapless Negro, anything is possible.
Speaking of the White Power Structure, it ain’t so white any more. The legion of New York public servants who brought these rapists to justice were one damned smart rainbow coalition: black, white, Anglo, Hispanic, male, female and “other.” They’re good at what they do, but they’re far too diverse a group to keep any conspiracy a secret.
Three Detectives Remember
The detectives who investigated the Central Park gang rape are not pleased by all the loose talk about conspiracies and coercion. Three of those detectives have defended the confessions.
Mike Sheehan is now a respected and well-liked correspondent for Fox Channel 5, in New York; thirteen years ago he was a detective working on the jogger case. Sheehan challenged defense lawyers outside the Manhattan Supreme Court. He called all talk of exonerating the defendants “ridiculous.” He denied that the defendants’ confessions were coerced. He said the defendants confessed “to a lady prosecutor . . .on videotape in detail” in front of their parents and guardians. “Where’s the coercion?” Sheehan also helped to convict Matias Reyes of other rapes and murder. He said of Reyes, “He was never a suspect [in the jogger case]. Hence we never submitted his DNA”
Retired detective Thomas McKenna had gotten Yusef Salaam to admit, “I was there. I didn’t rape her.” McKenna explained that he couldn’t have scripted Salaam because “I didn’t have a clue about what happened. I had no knowledge of what other people were saying.” The police also had no idea what the victim would say. If the victim’s version contradicted some bogus police script, then the whole case would have been wrecked. Added McKenna: “The confessions were absolutely not coerced.”
In an extensive interview with the New York Daily News, retired detective Humberto Arroyo dismissed the defense lawyers’ accusation that their clients’ confessions were the result of coercion or trickery. He explained that detectives working in separate locations while questioning more than 40 suspects could never have pulled off such a conspiracy. “All the different detectives asking questions – that’s how the case came together.”
Mr.Arroyo, who retired from the NYPD in 1994 after almost 15 years on the force, described the turbulent and congested atmosphere inside the cramped Central Park station house on the 86th Street transverse on the morning after the gang rape. Reporters milled about outside, while detectives from several divisions read suspects their rights and tried to elicit the truth. Later that same day the investigation was moved to a more spacious station house, where detectives from the Manhattan North homicide division began more detailed questioning. Arroyo recalled how Raymond Santana, with his father at his side, admitted his participation in the wolf pack attack. On videotape Santana described how he fondled the victim’s breasts and how Santana’s buddies beat the woman to a bloody pulp.
Mr. Arroyo said that he doubted that Matias Reyes acted alone; he expressed doubt that a small person like Matias Reyes could drag a grown woman the distance from where he says he attacked her to the place where he says he left her for dead – a distance of almost 100 yards. Humberto Arroyo observed: “It defies logic. It’s unbelievable that he would drag someone one football field in length.”
He repeated how “ridiculous” it was to believe that the confessions were coerced because the questioning was done at various locations, including the suspects homes, by cops who were often strangers to one another. “Their lawyers are making it seem like a quasi-Moscow-Afgani interrogation room. Absolutely not. This was Interviewing 101.”
A Prosecutor Remembers
An unidentified prosecutor who witnessed the 1989 rape confessions told the New York Post (10/17/02) “Those confessions were good.” At the suggestion that the confessions were coerced, the prosecutor explained, “You had cops who were black, Hispanic and white on the case. You had cops from so many divisions who didn’t know each other. When did they conspire? What’s the logic of cops giving suspects a story that [the jogger] could wake up and contradict? No one knew at the time that she would remember nothing about the attack.”
The prosecutor was particularly incensed at the professed innocence of Kharey Wise, who was released after serving 13 years in the slammer. In a recently released parole-hearing transcript, which defense lawyers tried to suppress, Kharey Wise said: “I never did it, but over my years of incarceration, I have been sorry for it. I have been sorry for going out there that night and being around so-called friends of mine that may have participated in such.”
By “I never did it,” he means to say that he didn’t penetrate the victim with his penis. He says he was just “out there” that night with “so-called friends” who “may have participated” in the rape. Kharey’s mom, Deloris, has been vocal at recent black-power news gatherings; she proclaims her son’s innocence; she says ‘Save my child.’ Under the careful tutelage of black activists Deloris has undergone an amazing transformation. At the time of the crime Deloris didn’t want to have anything to do with her son; she wouldn’t even let him come home.
The prosecutor recalled that at Kharey Wise’s trial a woman testified that Wise had called to speak with a relative of hers and that “he told her without prompting, ‘I just held her legs down while the others raped her.’” As to Wise’s claim that he “never did it,” the prosecutor explained: “My experience with a gang rape is that some can’t get it up.” Impotence is not a defense in this case. Kharey Wise was at the crime scene; he held the victim down; he participated in a gang rape.
Perhaps because he didn’t have sexual intercourse with the victim, Kharey Wise refuses to acknowledge that he committed a sex crime. At a 1998 parole hearing, Kharey Wise said that he had to leave a sex offender program because the counselor did not think he was taking responsibility for his past behavior. Said Wise: “I had told her that I done wrong, did my little wrong, you know, I lived and learned. You know, I done my wrong and I couldn’t quite really get into it, because that was how far my experience went and she felt that I was in denial.” Wise added: “I also apologize to the victim, who I made false accusations on.” He’s referring to the nasty and slanderous characterizations of the victim that the defense team used during Mr. Wise’s trial. Wise’s lawyer suggested that the rape was all a hoax; he referred to the monstrous crime as an “alleged rape.”
Cheerleaders for the Jogger Five have a big problem: their star witness, Matias Reyes, is crazy. He’s a psychopath. He’s totally nuts.
Reyes lived with his father in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico from the ages of 2 to 9. In a thirteen-page report by examining psychologist Dr. N.G. Berril, Mr. Reyes recollects a sexual assault visited upon him by two homosexuals when he was seven years old: “Two guys threw me in the river, beat me and had sex with me.” Two years later Reyes went to live with his mother on East 102nd Street in New York City. He quit school forever in the ninth grade. At age 15 he returned to Puerto Rico.
At about this time Matias Reyes said “that a tragedy had occurred.” In fact, Reyes had gotten drunk and raped his own mother. He insists that he doesn’t remember the assault. “My aunt in New York told me this . . .I never saw my mother afterwards, maybe one time at the welfare office in Puerto Rico. I asked her about that night. She wouldn’t tell me.” Added Reyes of his family: “They always said I needed psychiatric help.” By age 17 Reyes was back in Puerto Rico’s northern province: New York City. He worked at a bodega on 102nd Street.
While handcuffed in the Psychiatry Clinic in Manhattan Supreme Court, Reyes said, “I have no problems . . .I’m not violent, I never wanted to hurt anybody, I always say no to violence.” He’s a Puerto Rican echo of Norman Bates in the closing moments of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. In the same calm detached tone of voice in which he recalled his rape of his own mother, Matias Reyes recalled: “I was arrested. . .charged with murder in the first degree, rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary.” Mister Reyes had confessed to slaughtering a pregnant woman, stabbing her 14 times in front of her three horrified children. A decade from now they’ll still wake up screaming.
Reyes confessed to raping three women. He would stab them repeatedly around their eyes while repeating the words, “Your eyes or your life.” While locked up, Matias Reyes cut himself repeatedly “to see my blood . . .I wanted to let some stress out.” He was enthralled with what the examining psychologist called “grandiose fantasies.” Reyes told the mental health professionals that he desired to become “a superhero one day like Ice Man.” When the psychologist asked him if he really believed that this was possible, Reyes replied, “Yeah, I’m really not crazy” and he began laughing. Reyes said he wanted to be “president or king.”
The man is crackers. His IQ is a mere 76. He had problems reciting the alphabet and counting backwards from 20. The report describes Reyes as an “infantile, impulsive individual . . .prone to viewing the world in a peculiar fashion. . .marked by ‘monsters, blood, and dead animals.’” He is “demanding, particularly with his need for respect and attention.”
In other words, Matias Reyes is a pathetic, amoral, mental low-watt who desperately craves attention, respect and recognition. He participated in the savage assault on the jogger. Now he wants all attention focused on himself; he wants us to believe that all of the horror of that long-ago night was his doing; he wants us to recognize his power. Now that the statute of limitations has run out and he can no longer be prosecuted for his attack on the jogger, Matias Reyes can say any preposterous thing he wants without fear of any legal consequences. When Matias Reyes says “I’m a monster,” he is not expressing shame or regret; he is likening himself to monsters such as Godzilla, monsters worthy of fear and respect. For a pathetic loser such as Matias Reyes, the title “monster” represents a much sought-after empowerment.
Lawyer Richard Siracusa, who represented Reyes at his murder trial, said, “He’s really a psychopath. There’s no rhyme or reason to what he does. I don’t believe he has a conscience.” Reyes says he confessed to the jogger rape because he found religion in prison. His lawyer is skeptical. Siracusa remarked, “I don’t think he found religion. Maybe he wanted the publicity.”
His Story Stinks
Matias Reyes says that he alone attacked the 28-year-old woman jogger. Does his story hang together, or is he just desperate for attention? Let’s look at the facts.
According to Reyes, he entered Central Park at East 102nd Street and then roamed about. He says he spotted the victim and was attracted to her. He says that the followed her in a zigzag pattern as she jogged. He says that he picked up a big tree stump or branch and hit the woman on the head. “I dragged her in there, somewhere inside the bushes around there.” Really?
The distance from where he says he hit her to where he says he raped her is about 100 yards, the length of a football field. He’s only three inches taller than the victim so his story that he dragged her such a great distance sounds bogus. He said that she attempted to flee and that he beat her with a rock, dragged her back and raped her. He threw in some gruesome details about the sound of her labored breathing through blood-filled nostrils.
This confession was enough to convince such deep thinkers as Al Sharpton and the editorial staff of the Amsterdam News, but on closer examination Mr. Reyes’s story doesn’t square with the facts. Virtually every detail of Matias Reyes’s “confession” echoes well-publicized press accounts from the jogger rape trials. According to the Daily News (9/27/02): “If Reyes did all he claimed, he would have been drenched in blood, not just on his pants, as he said.” Reyes made no mention of the fact that the jogger was bound with a long-sleeved shirt, something he should have known.
Several of the gang rape defendants told the police that someone they knew only as “Tony” was the one who raped the jogger. They said that Tony raped her while they held her down. Matias Reyes is known to have been using the nickname Tony at the time of the rape.
The New York Post quoted “a knowledgeable medical source” as saying that “it’s unlikely” one person caused all of the jogger’s wounds “because there were just a lot of injuries – a lot of injuries.” Reyes “would have had to set to work and punched her for 15 or 20 minutes to do all that. This is not the work of a flurry of fists over a minute or two.” Added the source, “This is not, in my experience, what criminals do. They usually do what they do really fast and then get out of there.”
The wounds that caused the jogger to lose 75 to 85 percent of her blood were caused by an edged weapon. The injured tissues were divided, not crushed, but Reyes says he hit the woman with a rock and a piece of wood. It was the teenagers who talked about cutting the jogger with a knife. Said the medical source: “She had marks all over her body . . .the ones that made her scalp bleed to the point where she nearly bled to death were caused by something sharp.” And, “What is crystal clear is that the blunt instruments he said he used would not have inflicted the injuries she almost died of.”
So the star witness for the defense is a simpleton who wants to be a superhero. He craves attention. He wants to be notorious. He wants the spotlight all to himself, but his story doesn’t fit the facts of the crime.
Prosecutors estimate that at least a dozen black and Hispanic teens participated in the wolf pack attack on the little investment banker, which means that more than half of the rapists had their fun and then slipped back into Harlem society.
The chilling videotaped confessions of the “Jogger Five” describe the white woman’s cries for help. They describe how she kicked and clawed for dear life. They recall in detail how their buddies argued over who would get to mount her next. They jabber on for four hours, incriminating themselves with every word. Each of these young men had a fully-awake adult at their side to counsel them as they confessed to their crimes, except Kharey Wise who was, by law, old enough to be questioned by himself.
Let’s take their confessions one at a time. Antron McCray, with both parents at his side, described how he kicked the little white woman and held her while his buddies raped her. He says he mounted the woman and simulated sexual intercourse so he wouldn’t feel left out. On videotape McCray swivels in an office chair and licks his lips. “We charged her and, like, we got her on the ground and everybody started hitting her and stuff and she was on the ground and everybody’s stomping. . .” He goes on, “Then we grabbed, like, I grabbed one arm and this other kid grabbed one arm and we grabbed her legs and stuff . . .and we all took turns getting on top of her.” Antron says he witnessed someone hit the woman with a pipe. Then he goes into detail about how he opened his pants and “pretended” to have sexual intercourse with the battered woman. “I didn’t put nothing in her,” Antron insists, “I was doing it so everybody would know, everybody just, like, know I did it.”
As self-serving as Antron’s confession seems, it has the ring of truth about it. These stupid punks didn’t set out to commit rape; they just wanted to have “some fun.” It was all a big disorganized exercise in male bonding; the jogger was just a target of opportunity. Once the attack began, all of these young idiots did what they thought the rest of the pack expected them to do: act like big male studs. But they weren’t big male studs; they were young and inexperienced and trying to look tough and virile and cool. They were excited by the very fact that they were doing something edgy and sexy and totally wrong, but none of them was driven by the kind of psychotic anger that drove their fellow traveler, eighteen-year-old Matias Reyes, the guy they called Tony.
No, they weren’t hardened rapists, but their descriptions of the woman’s injuries fit the medical evidence very nicely. They savagely beat an innocent stranger almost to death. She was in a coma for twelve days. She lost 75 to 85 percent of her total blood volume. She was not expected to live. No one doubts that the victim was raped. So, by law, as participants in a forcible rape, all of them are guilty of forcible rape even if, as Antron says, “I didn’t put nothing in her.” That’s the law.
Defenders of the Jogger Five point to the confusing biological soup that was recovered from the victim’s vagina and the spot of semen that was recovered from the victim’s sock as proof that Reyes was the only rapist. This is a weak argument. A confusion of DNA in the victim’s vagina indicates gang rape. Experienced sex crimes investigators tell us that it is not unusual for rapists to withdraw from their victims without ejaculating. It is not unusual for some participants in a gang rape to be unable to get an erection. There is no contradiction between the confessions and the forensic evidence.
Raymond Santana, in the presence of his father, described his participation in several attacks against men earlier in the night. He described how a gang of thirty teens split up after spotting an approaching police car. He ran west from the reservoir and encountered Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez who were molesting the woman. “Kevin was pulling down his pants and Lopez, Lopez was smacking the lady in the face.”
Prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer asked Santana: “Was she screaming?”
“She was just hollering, like ‘Help! Help!’ and he was smacking.”
Lederer inquires, “What happened when she was on the ground?”
“Lopez came and he was holding her by the arms. He pinned her arms with his knees and then he covered her mouth with his hand.”
Santana goes on to say that Lopez smashed the woman with a brick. He admits to fondling the woman’s breasts for his own pleasure.
Kevin Richardson, with his father at his side, describes his evening of mayhem: attacking a homeless man, assaulting a couple on a tandem bicycle and beating a male jogger. Then he recalls how the wolf pack spotted the little white woman, only 5 feet 5 inches tall: “Everybody was running and then, like, they caught her and like, like pulled her shirt off. They pushed her down and while they were pushing her down he grabbed her shirt and she fell.” He says Steve Lopez took her shirt off. “She was like, saying, ‘Stop!’ yelling, ‘Help!’” He says that the woman scratched him as he was trying to stop the attack, “She kind of scratched me a little.”
On videotape, Kharey Wise kicks back, cracks open a Pepsi, and recounts how he watched his pals rape the jogger. After being shown photographs of the woman’s hideously smashed face Kharey says, “The more it looks like it’s, it’s, it’s from like, it was like a rock, a rock.” He recounts how Kevin Richardson hit the woman with a rock. He admits that he fondled the woman’s legs.
The police took dozens of teens into custody on the night of the gang rape. Some refused to cooperate and the testimony of others was deemed unnecessary. These witnesses were questioned again. According to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, one woman remains adamant that Kharey Wise told her that he had held the jogger’s legs while his buddies raped her.
How Guilty Is Harlem
Certain people have insisted that “it takes a village” to raise a child. If this is true, then doesn’t “the village” share responsibility when a large number of its children turn out to be anti-social screw-ups?
According to the liberal advocacy group the Sentencing Project, almost one in every four young black males in America are in prison, on probation, or on parole on any day of the year. In major metropolitan areas the number is even higher than one in four. For whites the figure is a mere 6 percent. In 1991, a year after the Central Park gang rape trial, over 80 percent of young people arrested in Baltimore were black. At that time more than half of all black males in Baltimore between the ages of 18 and 35 were in prison or under criminal justice supervision. Blacks are only about 13% of the America’s population but the Uniform Crime Reports, using FBI data, reveals that blacks comprise 39% of those arrested for aggravated assault, 55% of those arrested for murder and 43% of those arrested for rape. Blacks comprise 50% of America’s prison population.
To those who would argue that these arrest statistics are not an accurate reflection of actual crime commission, I offer the annual victimization survey conducted by the Department of Justice, in which crime victims are asked to provide the details of their victimization. Victims have a deep commitment to getting their attackers arrested so they are unlikely to lie about the race of their attackers. The report is based on the testimony of victims of all races, including African-Americans. When survey information is compared with arrest statistics it confirms that blacks do, indeed, commit violent crimes at a much higher rate than whites.
Perhaps there is something rotten in the village where young black males are raised, the village called American black culture. Back in Harlem everyone knows that the Central Park rape convictions are a reflection on the culture of Harlem and the quality of black parenting. That’s why “the black community” is demanding complete exoneration for the Jogger Five, not just a vacating of their convictions on a legal technicality. Harlem is feeling ashamed. As black Councilman Bill Perkins pointed out, a mere technical vacation “will not rid them of the stigma, the stench of having been convicted as rapists.” Left unsaid is Councilman Perkins’s real purpose: to rid Harlem of the stigma and stench of having produced such an extravagant number of anti-social savages.
In truth, the 30-plus black and Hispanic teens who went marauding beneath a full moon on the night of April 19, 1989 were an organic and predictable consequence of contemporary American black culture, a culture steeped in bogus myths, spiritual hocus pocus, anti-intellectualism and diamond-hard racial hostility.
Authentic expressions of the contemporary American black essence aren’t hard to find. The Reverend Jesse Jackson praised the rap activist Sister Souljah as a voice “representing the feelings and hopes of a whole generation.” And what are those feelings and hopes? Says Sister Souljah: “If black people kill black people everyday, why not have a week and kill white people?” In her music she suggests that white people are intrinsically evil and that blacks are justified in killing them. The lyrics of her album 360 Degrees of Power promote the “total destruction” of the white race. She speaks to the youth of Harlem; Jesse Jackson said so.
The most consistent themes of rap are violence and sexual exploitation. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. defends the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew as music that is “brilliant . . . astonishing and refreshing. . .” Gates says this rap group is part of a sophisticated African literary tradition, he says the group has earned a place “in the history of black culture.” Indeed, it has. This group celebrates the sexual abuse of women with such toe-tapping lyrics as “I’ll break you down, and dick you long” and “I’ll bust your pussy, then break your backbone.” And who could forget the memorable:
Suck my dick, bitch, and make it puke.
Lick my ass up and down
Lick it till your tongue turn doo-doo brown.”
It’s not exactly Cole Porter, but hey, it’s authentically black.
In Raising Black Children, Alvin Poussaint gives black parents this helpful hint: “Today the use of motherfucker has so changed that some young blacks use it as a term of endearment and respect.” Oh, yeah? Tell that to Matias Reyes’s mom.
One rap lyric tells us that a policeman is just “a sucker in a uniform waitin’ to get shot by me or another nigger.” Or how about this sweet love song:
Her body’s beautiful so I’m thinkin’ rape
Shouldn’t have had her curtains open so that’s her fate.
The rapper recounts how he “grabbed the bitch”, then “slammed her down”, pulled his knife and “commenced to fucking.” When she cried out he “slit her throat and watched her shake till her eyes close[d].” Then he “had sex with the corpse.”
The late rapper Tupac Shakur, who died of bullet wounds, had been arrested several times for such things as sexual abuse, assault with a baseball bat and shooting two police officers. “We are who we are,” said the amoral Shakur. “It’s beyond good and evil.” A thirteen-year-old Harlem boy told that he thought of Tupac as a freedom fighter: “There ain’t been nobody like him since Malcolm. He shot those white cops in Atlanta and didn’t miss a step.” (Newsweek 12/12/94 p.63)
Star rapper Snoop Doggy Dog was charged with being an accessory to murder for being the wheelman in a drive-by shooting. The rapper who calls himself Professor Griff of the group Public Enemy accuses Jews of collaborating with white supremacists to infect blacks with the AIDS virus.
Black intellectual Michael Eric Dyson calls rappers “urban griots” who are “refining the art of oral communication” even as they “take delight in undermining ‘correct’ English usage.” How much “undermining” they could do in black America is questionable where 80% of American blacks already speak some non-standard black dialect.
The forms of artistic expression that are characteristic of any culture are a window into the heart of that culture. Rap music captures the distinctive tone of contemporary black culture. Rap groups with names such as Criminal Nation, Convicts, Brokin English, Jungle Brothers, Niggers With Attitude, Poison Clan and Public Enemy pour out a constant flow of persuasive messages with titles such as Fuck tha Police, I’m Your Pusher, How I just Could Kill a Man and Treat Her Like a Prostitute. Professor Cornel West, who assisted Al Sharpton’s presidential campaign, tells us that rappers offer us “a subversive critique of society.” Black parents all over Harlem will be offering this trash to their kids as presents once again this coming Kwanzaa. And why not, when so many luminaries of the black professoriate are endorsing these anti-white, anti-police, anti-woman messages. This is the culture in which the black boys of Harlem are steeped from birth; it is the culture from which they learn what to value and what is a culturally-approved target for attack.
So who is responsible for black anti-social behavior? Why, it’s white people, of course. Black intellectuals, such as Derrick Bell are quick to place the blame: “Victimized themselves by an uncaring society, some blacks vent their rage on victims like themselves, thereby perpetuating the terror that whites once had to invoke directly.” A notorious black New York judge named Bruce Wright, who was known to area cops and conservatives as “Turn ‘Em Loose Bruce”, was unperturbed by the lawlessness of young blacks because, he said, they were merely violating “ a social contract that was not of their making in the first place.” Alvin Poussaint believes that blacks are driven to anti-social acts for the sake of their psychological survival. He says we should reject “facile labeling” and learn “to distinguish deviant behavior from what is, in fact, different behavior.” Oh, I get it now! The black teens who gang raped the little white woman in Central Park and smashed her face to a bloody pulp were just acting differently. Thank you Mister Black Intellectual Person for setting me straight. It’s always nice to get a fresh perspective.
Journalist Leon Bing caught the essence of what boys without proper parenting become. In the words of one of her interviewees: “My homeboys be doin’ rapes. They’ll just rape a girl, any girl, if she looks good and she don’t wanna kick in. Hey, if they want it bad enough, they gonna take it. All of them together. And beat on her too if she try to hold back.”
In his autobiography Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver justified his many rapes of white women on the grounds that he had been implanted with an irresistible attraction-repulsion complex toward white women by a history of white racism. In other words, whitey made him rape white women. Cleaver concluded that for him rape was a form of social protest. Liberal white professors enthusiastically assigned Soul on Ice to nice white girls to make them sympathize with Cleaver’s sick rationalizations.
Let’s talk sense. In 1991, the year following the Central Park gang rape trials, there were 100 cases of white rapists assaulting black women in America. That same year the number of blacks who raped white women numbered more than 20,000. If 13% of America’s male population is black and 70% is white, then white men outnumber black men by a factor of 5.4. In other words, if there were as many black men in America as there are white men, then white rapists would still have raped 100 black women in 1991, but black men would have raped 108,000 white women. It’s only a crude model, but it illustrates the fact that any black male, selected at random from the age group in which most rapists are active, is a thousand times more likely to be an interracial rapist than a similarly chosen white man. To put it another way, at the 1991 rate of commission it would take the much larger population of white men over two hundred years to commit as many interracial rapes as black men commit ever single year.
Rape is about the domination and humiliation of women. Rape within the black population is epidemic. Black women are less than 7% of the population and yet the typical American rape victim is a fifteen-year-old black girl.
Clearly, civilized order has broken down in some parts of the African-American “village” and blaming white folks won’t fix what’s gone wrong or even explain it. Not so long ago 80% of all black children knew the security of a two-parent home. Things took a nosedive in the 1960s. Eventually, the out-of-wedlock birthrate for blacks reached seventy percent. Ninety-five percent of black teenage mothers are unmarried. Dads be damned, a new black culture without responsible models of male behavior is upon us. This new black culture is less civilized and less self-controlled than it was only a few decades ago.
Harlem doesn’t want to acknowledge any of this. Harlem is still in the grip of aging 60s radical leftovers intent on suffocating any black voice offering fresh solutions. The mantra is always the same: we’re only responding to white racism; we’re the victims of a big white conspiracy; you can’t trust whitey. United States Representative Charles B. Rangel drew cheers at a rally for the Central Park rapists when he shouted: “In this community we’re just as afraid of the police as we are of criminals on the street.” He’s one of the leftovers.
As I leaf through the New York Post (11/21/02) my eye is caught by a small blurb: 40 students from the Bayard Rustin School for the Humanities (90.4% minority) have run amok, terrifying passengers at two subway stations and riders on the C train. Four of the brawlers were arrested at the 50th Street station; five more were arrested at Columbus Circle. Four cops were injured. Those arrested were charged with rioting, inciting a riot and disorderly conduct. But remember, it’s the cops we must fear. And the rioters? They weren’t being socially deviant; they were just acting differently.
Black culture is not simply a consequence of external forces, an epiphenomenon of white racism as the Marxists and the structural determinists would have us believe, but a powerful shaping agent of the black psyche. Even under slavery, black culture was being created from within. The slave master might drive the body, but the human spirit eludes tight control. It was under slavery that the theme of “struggle” was born; it was under slavery that the celebration of the “trickster” and the “bad nigger” began. Black academic Manning Marable said it very nicely: “Blackness or African American identity . . .is not something our oppressors forced upon us. It is a cultural and ethnic awareness that we have collectively constructed ourselves.” This culture has become an adversarial culture, a culture in opposition to mainstream America, a culture rooted in a comprehensive rejection of white people’s norms and perspectives. Worse yet, many middle class and upper middle class blacks accept as models of authentic “blackness” the behavior of underclass blacks. They have taken DuBois’s prediction of the uplifting influence of the Talented Tenth and stood it ridiculously on its head. Middle class black youth now model their behavior after that of society’s biggest boneheads. The moral tone of black youth springs upward from the streets, from the gutter. This explains why middle class black kids have a higher arrest rate than lower class whites. The underclass is so influential because it is perceived to be the most oppositional and therefore the most “authentic” voice in an oppositional culture.
It is not by chance that almost every American convert to Islam is black; conversion is a very oppositional thing to do in an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Many blacks are attracted to the heretical pseudo-Islamic faith called the Nation of Islam. The spiritual leader of the Nation of Islam is a slick black supremacist named Louis Farrakhan (formerly Walcott) a former calypso singer who took over leadership of the NOI from an ex-con and pedophile named Elijah Muhammad (formerly Poole), who in turn had assumed leadership from an elusive hustler and door-to-door salesman named Muhammad Fard. It was Fard who patched together the racist theology of the Nation of Islam, commonly called the Black Muslims. At the center of the NOI mythology is the story of Yacub, a bitter and crazy genetic scientist who created a race of white devils to torment black folks, a race of blue-eyed devils: white people.
It sounds comical, but many blacks embrace this racist myth and many more blacks admire Louis Farrakhan; no black clergyman or politician dares to criticize Louis Farrakhan in a stern voice. Few things are more entertaining than to watch any prominent black person twist and squirm before a television camera when asked to denounce some nutty thing Louis Farrakhan has said: they can’t bring themselves to do it! Farrakhan tells black people that white racism is responsible for blacks killing other blacks; he tells them that whites won’t stop black-on-black violence because whites want to harvest black people’s body organs. Farrakhan says a great mother ship is orbiting in outer space and that it has all the firepower necessary to obliterate the white race. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton refuse to criticize this authentic voice of black America. A poll taken among black Americans the year of the Central Park rape trial revealed that 60% of blacks believed that it was true or possible that the government was deliberately encouraging drug use among African Americans and almost a third suspected that scientists deliberately created AIDS for the purpose of obliterating black folks.
The gang of thirty teens who went marauding in Central Park that night in 1989 were of the first generation to grow up drenched in the anti-white rhetoric of the Black Power movement. They grew up surrounded by adults who respected black supremacists such as Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X. These teens were the life-long targets of rhetoric from racial racketeers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton: “No justice, no peace,” “Tawana told the truth.” They were taught that to have a secure identity as an authentic black person they must spurn the morals, values and norms of white America; authentic blacks, by definition, were blacks in opposition. Once the black youth of Harlem had internalized these lessons, the next step on their pilgrimage toward black authenticity was to express their total opposition to white norms and values, and to the white man’s law, by doing something distinctly black: they went totally gangsta; they went wilding; they went off into the night, under the full moon, to raise hell.
One final question remains: if the black intellectuals are correct when they tell us that a deep awareness of race is every black person’s constant companion, then wasn’t the gang rape of the white woman in the park also a racist hate crime? Or are we to believe that just as they began kicking her, stomping her, punching her, tearing her clothes off, mounting her, slashing her with a knife and smashing her face in with a rock, their hearts were miraculously swept clean of all racial consciousness. Perhaps it was just a hate crime against women. Either way it deserves to be called a lynching.
The Forgotten Victim
She left her apartment at nine in the evening for a run in the park. She was dressed in her jogging uniform: a long-sleeved jersey and black tights. She looked every bit the smart and stylish New York woman she was. Jogging was her customary way of unwinding after a long day at Salomon Brothers where she worked as an investment banker. Her future was bright; she was a rising star in the corporate finance department. She was 28 years old, small and compact, only 5 feet 5 inches tall. She jogged over to the 102nd Street entrance to Central Park and vanished into the darkness.
At 1:30 the following morning two male joggers chanced upon her comatose body lying in a sticky pond of her own blood. At least three quarters of her blood was soaking into the earth, about six quarts. Her body temperature had fallen to 84 degrees F.
She was removed to Metropolitan Hospital where attending physicians did not expect her to live. She was battered beyond recognition. She lay in a coma for 12 more days.
When, at last, she emerged from her coma she had complete amnesia for the period of the criminal assault upon her. The doctors gave her only a fifty-fifty chance that she would ever be able to feed or dress herself.
She dumbfounded her doctors. After seven months of rehabilitation at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut she was able to return to Salomon Brothers for a few hours a day.
Today she is 43 years old and living in Connecticut. She has been married for seven years. She still has problems with her balance and her vision. She has lost her sense of smell forever. She spends her time giving back to every institution that helped her, including the rehabilitation center at Gaylord, the Mount Sinai Medical Center Rape Crisis Intervention Program and the Achilles Track Club for people with disabilities. She has written a book about the ordeal of her long recovery, which was published under her own name.
One of her friends reports: “She never stopped loving the park. She thinks it’s the most beautiful park in the world.”
With only four days to go before Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau made his decision whether to vacate the convictions of the Jogger Five, the New York Times made an all-out effort to undermine public confidence in the Central Park gang rape convictions. The Times showcased its argument on the front page of its December first (2002) Sunday edition and continued it inside with a full two-page spread, complete with a map, a proposed timeline and lots of photos. It was the sort of presentation usually reserved for presidential assassinations.
In this article Times writers Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn take the recollections and estimations of some of the people who were assaulted in Central Park on the evening of April 19, 1989 and try to spin them into a timeline that would make the guilt of the five convicted men seem improbable. That’s as good as their argument gets: improbability.
If everything happened in Central Park exactly as the Times writers say it happened, then the convicted men had only 10 minutes in which to assault the female jogger. That’s their best case. A lot of damage can be done in ten minutes by twelve attackers. According to the Daily News (12/2/02) police investigators believe that Matias Reyes attacked the jogger with the others or soon afterward. “They will argue that during an approximately five-minute span, the youths grabbed the young woman, dragged her down, hit her with a pipe and sexually assaulted her,” said the Daily News.
So the window of opportunity proposed by the New York Times best-case scenario is twice as big as that proposed by the police. There was ample time for the Harlem teens to initiate the attack on the jogger. Matias Reyes may have lingered to satisfy his dark compulsions.
There is another possible scenario. The original gang of 35 teens may have split into two or more smaller groups that continued to spread mayhem through the park. If two groups were active in the park, then the timeline suggested by the Times is just junk.
After creating a timeline that makes the participation of the teens in the jogger attack seem improbable, the Times asks rhetorically: “Is it possible that more than 10 minutes were available to complete this?” By “this” they mean the assault on the jogger and then a movement south to attack David Lewis at the edge of the Central Park reservoir. When pressed on the witness stand Mr. Lewis allowed that he may have been accosted as late as 9:40 p.m., which would widen the window of opportunity for an assault plus travel time to a generous 25 minutes. All of the times given by the assault victims are, at best, conjecture. Mr. Robert Gardner estimates that he was assaulted at 9:30 at a place north of where Mr. Lewis was attacked. John Loughlin says he was attacked between 9:45 and 9:50 at a place south of where Mr. Lewis was attacked. David Good estimates that a group of teens accosted him at 9:47 to 9:50 at a place north of where Mr. Lewis was assaulted. So, either one group of teens was moving frantically up and down the northwest rim of the reservoir, or there were two groups of teens that were attacking people in the park. If there were two groups, then the Times timeline is trash.
The Times cited a legal scholar named Paul Cassell to the effect that most verified false confessions come from “vulnerable segments” of the population, such as people with mental disabilities. The Times then reminds us that at trial defense attorneys tried to introduce test scores that indicated that Antron McCray and Kharey Wise were of below average intelligence. The Times ignored the other three defendants whose testimony overlapped and interlocked with the testimony of Mr. Wise and Mr. McCray. When he was in prison on Riker’s Island, Kharey Wise telephoned Melody Jackson who asked him about the assault on the jogger. Ms. Jackson testified: “He said: ‘Mel, I didn’t have sex with her. The only thing I did was touch her legs.’” Earlier this year investigators visited her again and she stuck by her story. Of the New York Times attempt to undermine the convictions, we can say “Nice try, but no cigar.” The Jogger Five had a motive, had the opportunity, and they confessed.
To pave the way to that enormous pot of gold that awaits them should they be completely exonerated, lawyers for the Jogger Five have asked that their client’s convictions, from riot to rape, be vacated. There’s a multi-million-dollar jackpot at stake. “Our clients are innocent,” said lawyer Michael W. Warren, who stands to reap one-third of anything his clients Antron McCray and Raymond Santana receive from their inevitable legal assault on the city.
The people who were attacked on the night of April 19, 1989 aren’t thrilled about this turn of events. Mr. David Good, who was jogging around the reservoir when he was attacked by the Harlem teens, said “I wouldn’t see why it should be overturned. If they did that, and they were clearly in a riotous mood that night, people should have to pay for their mistakes.” Mistakes? Let’s call them crimes, Mr. Good.
David Lewis, a banker, was surprised by the Harlem teens as he jogged around the reservoir track. He asked them if they wanted to race. “We’ll race all right,” was their reply as several of the punks closed in on Lewis from the front. He was hit hard as he ran past them and escaped. Another jogger, Robert Gardner, was punched in the face and body.
A schoolteacher and former marine, John Loughlin, was beaten unconscious when he stopped to help a stranger who was being assaulted by the Harlem “youth.” He was hospitalized for two days. He said his skull still hurt eighteen months later.
None of the five teens who confessed to attacking the female jogger was ever identified by any of the assault victims; the teens implicated themselves and one another by their mutually-consistent statements. Three of them recalled their assault on the tandem bikers; four of them recalled an attack on a male jogger who was hit with a pipe. Steve Lopez pleaded guilty to stealing a radio from Mr. Loughlin. Lopez told the cops that Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam had attacked Loughlin with a pipe wrapped in black tape. “He was going to work,” said Lopez. “He was like, bow! bow! bow!” Lopez repeated this account at a parole hearing two years later.
Linda Fairstein, chief of the district attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit, testified that she overheard the suspects chatting in a holding cell about a jogger who had challenged them to a race. That jogger, Mr. Lewis, had not yet given that detail to the police; it was information known only to Mr. Lewis and the perpetrators of the assault upon him. Several of the teenagers correctly described the clothing of a beating victim as Army fatigues.
At a parole board appearance four years after his conviction, Raymond Santana admitted his involvement in an assault: “I took part in with the beating of that man.” Kharey Wise apologized at a parole board session for “acting like a bunch of idiots.” On ABC News, Kharey Wise said he witnessed some of the assaults that night; at his trial he had denied seeing any assaults. Preposterously, the defense lawyers are now denying that their clients committed any crimes.
Defense lawyers had vigorously sought to suppress their client’s confessions before trial. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Galligan rejected all of their arguments; he declared that the police had violated no law to obtain the confessions, which allowed the prosecution to use the damaging confessions at trial.
More than 40 people testified at a pretrial hearing, including detectives, two of the accused and some of their relatives and a top prosecutor. The transcripts debunk the popular myth that the accused confessed to their participation in the sexual assault only after lengthy interrogations. Although several of the suspects were in custody for more than a day before being charged, much of that time was spent sitting around waiting to be questioned. Interrogations were postponed for several hours while police awaited the arrival of Raymond Santana’s father. The interrogations of Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Antron McCray lasted between 90 and 180 minutes and that included the time they spent writing their statements. Raymond Santana’s questioning spanned four hours which included several rest periods. Kharey Wise’s questioning was fragmented over a five-hour period at several locations, including the crime scene.
The defense team tried to discredit the confessions in every way possible, without success. After a careful review, Justice Galligan wrote: “Wise slept, ate and received milk when he asked for it. Furthermore, his behavior in the cell . . .particularly his laughing and asking his codefendants if they had told the police allegedly humorous incidents involving joggers, belies his contention that he suffered from physical abuse or psychological duress.”
The defense team became a rumor mill spewing out falsehoods. They claimed that Raymond Santana’s father was tricked into leaving the interrogation room so that detectives could obtain an unlawful confession from the suspect. In response, Justice Galligan found: “The record shows, to the contrary, that the detectives delayed further questioning of Santana until the father was present and then commenced their interrogation only after fully and fairly advising the father.” Furthermore, the judge observed that “It was established that Raymond Santana slept, he was fed and that repeated efforts were made by the police to provide him access to a member of his family. The extent to which such access was delayed was clearly a product of his family’s behavior, not that of the police.” Santana’s father has told a reporter that he had a hard time getting away from his life-long job as a hospital nurse’s assistant.
The defense claimed that Kharey Wise confessed only after he was told that he could go home if he confessed. Responded the judge: “The only basis in the record for this proposition is defendant’s own testimony, which I find incredible.”
The defense lawyers squawked that Yusef Salaam had been denied the presence of a family member, as required for a suspect less than 16 years of age. The judge declared: “The record establishes Salaam misrepresented his age to the police, telling them he was 16. . .Yusef’s mother was granted the opportunity to see her son as soon as the police were made aware of his true age. Her earlier access was denied only because he had misled [police].” In fact, Salaam had produced a falsified transit pass to bolster his lie. The pass gave his age as 16.
The defense floated the story that Antron McCray’s father was duped by detectives into asking that his wife leave the interrogation room, which led to Antron’s confession. The judge discovered that “Mr. McCray agreed with the detectives that the son was not being truthful, and on one occasion he relayed that information to Antron and on the second occasion he asked his wife to leave.”
The defense team asserted that Kevin Richardson and his mother did not fully understand their rights and did not voluntarily waive them. To the contrary, Justice Galligan found that “Richardson, in addition to his mother and sister, understood his Miranda rights and possessed the emotional and intellectual capacity to waive them. His manner and poise reflected this. So, too, did his appreciation of the significance of the scratch on his face.” Kevin Richardson had a three-inch-long scratch under his left eye. At first he said he had fallen; then he said the arresting officer had tackled him and accidentally scratched him. When Detective Gonzalez made a move to summon the arresting officer, Richardson blurted out, “All right. It was the girl when we had a fight. She scratched me.”
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the defense lawyers have worked long and hard to create a false mythology about the interrogations; they have tirelessly undermined the public’s faith in the police, in the courts and in the verdicts. At every public rally for the Jogger Five these black attorneys nurture racial paranoia and trot out the boogeyman of the black left: The White Power Structure. These men are liars for hire. And why not tell lies? No amount of paranoid ranting could possibly harm them politically in Harlem; it simply makes them appear more at one with the black community and its culturally-determined fortress mentality.
Their ultimate motivation is that enormous pot of gold that awaits them if they can win complete exoneration for their ex-con clients. If the city can be made to shell out a multi-million-dollar jackpot, then the lawyers will walk away with one-third of the booty; they’ll all be millionaires. That’s an enormous incentive for them to tell lies and manipulate the emotions of the public on order to put political pressure on Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The Manhattan DA was something of a soft target: a vocal faction within his office, led by careerist Nancy Ryan, was rumored to be urging him to vacate all of the Central Park convictions to avoid a political scrap over an old case. Casting doubt on the convictions would also be a jab at Nancy’s old boss Linda Fairstein, whom Nancy dislikes. All of the defendants had served their sentences, so why bother defending the verdicts now? Why, indeed. Principle, perhaps, and the honorable reputations of the prosecutors and the police, but most of these people had retired from public service and a new breed of self-serving careerists was now asserting itself. Principle and honor be damned.
The prosecutors and police who won the verdicts back in 1990 were less than pleased by this gutless turn of events. Exoneration, or even the vacating of the verdicts, would be interpreted by much of the public as a confirmation of the defense team’s self-serving lies about the integrity of the police and the prosecution.
The New York Post (12/2/02 p.23) has reported that two teens, who did not participate in the attack on the jogger, reported to the police that they had witnessed the victim being gang raped. Lamont McCall and Orlando Escobar both said they saw three teenagers assaulting the jogger: two of them were punching her in the chest and legs while the third teen was between her legs. “She was naked. Her legs were spread,” recalled McCall. Their statements were confirmed by Linda Fairstein, a thirty-year veteran of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit. These statements make hash of Matias Reyes’s claim that he alone assaulted the jogger.
In his statement, McCall said he stood by a tree and witnessed a gang rape. He said he saw Kharey Wise and others grab the woman. McCall also identified Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez, whom he said was between the woman’s legs. Escobar identified Kharey Wise, Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez, as well as a teen they knew only as Tony, which was Matias Reyes’s self-chosen nickname. In 1993 the teenage Lamont McCall was gunned down; his lifeless body was found in the lobby of a building on West 113th Street, with a bullet wound in his throat. He won’t be testifying against the Jogger Five.
The Victim’s Doctor Breaks His Silence
In 1989, Dr. Robert Kurtz was the director of surgical intensive care at Metropolitan Hospital. He was summoned at 6 a.m. on the morning of April 20th. The comatose rape victim had arrived with a body temperature of 84 degrees F. She had lost six quarts of blood and had received repeated transfusions. She was in deep shock and coma, but she was still thrashing about in response to involuntary reflexes.
Dr. Kurtz would lead the team of doctors at Metropolitan who tended the woman for the following seven weeks. He says that the extent of the woman’s injuries suggest that she was battered by more than one attacker. Dr. Kurtz, who testified at both rape trials in 1990, said the victim suffered massive injuries all over her body. Doctors said that there wasn’t any part of her body that was not traumatized; even one of her eye sockets was crushed.
It was the deep wounds that caused her massive blood loss. Dr. Kurtz, who is now the director of services for trauma and surgical critical care at Kings County Hospital and an associate surgery professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, says that the weapons that Matias Reyes claims to have used in an attack on the jogger are not consistent with the injuries she suffered. Reyes says he used a rock and a piece of wood, a tree branch, but the expert Dr.Kurtz explained: “When skin is crushed, you can see it and feel it, and it looks totally different than an incision wound. It would’ve had to have been a sharp-edged object – a knife, a broken bottle or a box cutter.” So, Matias Reyes’ version of the crime is hokum.
Morgenthau’s Phony Probe
In 1989, Humberto Arroyo was one of the lead detectives in the Central Park jogger case, so you would expect that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office would want to interview him again during its reexamination of the case. Robert Morgenthau had promised to conduct a “thorough and comprehensive inquiry” and one that would be “fair, impartial and complete.” Fat chance!
Mr.Arroyo, who retired from the NYPD in 1994, blasted the aging DA: “Eleven months have gone by and I haven’t gotten a call from the DA’s office. He hasn’t talked to many other detectives involved in the case. What is his definition of full and thorough?” It was Arroyo who elicited a confession from Raymond Santana.
While he was on the subject, Mr.Arroyo offered a few choice words about Nancy Ryan who is pushing Morgenthau to vacate all of the rape case convictions, including those for sexual abuse, riot and robbery. Arroyo observed: “If Nancy Ryan reinvestigated the Warren Commission, she would exonerate Lee Harvey Oswald.” He surmised that the lopsidedness of the current reexamination of this case is the result of Nancy Ryan’s lingering hostility toward the former lead prosecutor of the Manhattan DA’s Sex Crimes Unit, thirty-year-veteran Linda Fairstein, who supervised the original rape case back in 1989. Arroyo remarked, “A wedge between certain factions in the DA’s is the catalyst for this horrible miscarriage of justice – this horror.” He added, “It’s a political football game.”
It was Morgenthau’s office that frustrated the NYPD’s reexamination of the case by blocking police access to Matias Reyes. A police source told the New York Post (12/4/02 p.15) that when police investigators went to interview Matias Reyes in an upstate prison, they were interrupted in mid-interview on the direct orders of Nancy Ryan.
Linda Fairstein, who retired from the DA’s office last February, says that she is also ready to testify, but no one from Morgenthau’s current team has shown any interest in reviewing the case with her.
Defense lawyer Roger Wareham, who represents three of the convicts, says he will battle Morgenthau tooth and nail if he recommends anything other than complete exoneration. Linda Fairstein pointed out that, “The defense hasn’t come up with anything to exonerate them from the rest of the attacks that night. Because of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they say they had nothing to do with anything that went on in the Park that night. You have to look at their statements in light of all the other evidence in the case.”
To win any judgment against the police or the prosecutors, the defense must first have its way cleared by a declaration of complete exoneration from Morgenthau. Then they must demonstrate willful wrongdoing on the part of the authorities. If they file a claim, then the most likely venue for a trial would be the Court of Claims, which has a reputation for sensible tort settlements determined by merit-appointed judges. If the case lands before the notoriously pro-plaintiff Supreme Court, then all five of these jerks could become the Five Fat Cats of Harlem.
Robert Morgenthau’s crew worked into the night finishing their 58-page filing in time to meet the noon deadline set by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Tejada. When the morning editions hit the newsstands, the front page of the Post bore the banner headline CLEARED above photos of the five convicted teens as they appeared in 1989. The sub-head read: “DA to drop all charges in Central Park jogger case.” Had the five convicted rapists really been exonerated? Well . . .no. First of all, the district attorney can’t exonerate anyone; he can only recommend to Justice Tejada that convictions be vacated, which is what Morgenthau was doing. The judge would make a ruling by February 6th.
Morgenthau made his recommendation on the grounds of “new evidence,” which included the confession of Matias Reyes. More sophisticated DNA testing developed in the years after the 1990 trials indicated that a blond head hair and a blond pubic hair recovered from the clothing of one of the defendants was not the hair of the victim. And finally, the defense was not informed by the police that another woman had been raped in Central Park two days before the April 19th night of wilding. Matias Reyes confessed to that assault. So, Morgenthau was recommending that the rape convictions be vacated because the 1990 juries might have voted differently had they known what is now known. The DA was recommending that all of the remaining convictions for assaults on the other Central Park victims be vacated because all of these cases were bundled together with the rape trial. His reasoning is that the lurid details of the rape testimony hopelessly tainted the jury’s perception of the defendants and therefore might have disposed them toward convictions on the lesser charges. It’s all sound legal reasoning, but it’s a far cry from saying that the defendants are innocent. Their convictions will probably be vacated for reasons of procedure, not because they have been cleared of the charges. Morgenthau’s affidavit does not seek to exonerate the defendants, nor does it negate their confessions, nor does it suggest any misconduct by the police or the prosecution.
This is maddening for the defendants and their lawyers who are eager to reach that big pot of gold that awaits them if only they can successfully win civil lawsuits against the City of New York. To win lawsuits for wrongful imprisonment, the defendants must first get a declaration of their innocence; they must also demonstrate that they did not contribute to their own convictions. Since their written and videotaped confessions definitely contributed to their convictions, they have a big problem. The only way for the defense to overcome this barrier is to demonstrate that the confessions were the result of willful wrongdoing by the authorities. There is no such evidence.
New York’s black radio stations, the ones Al Sharpton calls “the drums of the black community,” crackled with suspicions and accusations. Said the New York Times: “The case’s round edges will invariably add to the mistrust of the criminal justice system, to the impression that members of racial minorities – especially young black men -- cannot get a fair shake.” An impression the Times itself seemed eager to intensify.
Stephen Gillers, professor of legal ethics at New York University’s School of Law explained: “The criminal-procedure law does not envision a role for Morgenthau to go in and say ‘I think these men are innocent.’ This is purely procedure. It does not exonerate, is not meant to exonerate. . .” Predictably, lawyers for the Jogger Five are demanding complete exoneration for their non-paying clients. Said lawyer Roger Wareham, “Their only crime was being black and Latino teenagers in Central Park.”
Only Justice Charles J. Tejada could vacate the guilty verdicts, which was likely but not imminent. Morgenthau had made it clear in that he has not found any evidence of prosecutorial misconduct or police coercion in the original case.
The Matias Reyes / Kharey Wise Connection
According to a fellow inmate of Matias Reyes, he didn’t always claim to be the sole attacker of the Central Park jogger. The New York Daily News reported that law enforcement sources said Reyes befriended a convicted killer in prison. This inmate said that Reyes told him that he was high on crack and angel dust on the night of the wilding attacks. Reyes heard a woman screaming and ran to see a gang of teens battering a female jogger. As he approached, they fled, leaving him alone with the dazed woman. Reyes then attacked her. The police say their attempts to corroborate the inmate’s story have been frustrated by Morgenthau’s aide Nancy Ryan. They say she prevented two other inmates from talking to them about Reyes. Linda Fairstein, who supervised the original investigation remarked: “All this highlights why there should be a hearing where Reyes’ credibility is tested in a court of law. Let him be cross-examined on what he said.”
So why did Reyes suddenly confess to raping the Central Park jogger? The police surmise that he confessed in return for the protection of Kharey Wise, who had become a powerful Muslim leader during his eleven years in prison. Reyes made his confession in January when he and Kharey Wise were inmates at the Auburn Correctional Facility near Syracuse, New York. Records confirm that Reyes, 33, and Wise, 30, were both at the lockup from August 2001 until March 2002. They had previously been on Rikers Island together in 1989, where they clashed for unknown reasons. Reyes knew that the statute of limitations for prosecuting him for the jogger rape had expired, and he knew that the state’s updated DNA databank program would link him to the crime eventually, so he did the Muslim strongman a favor in return for some protection in the slammer. Reyes was moved to Attica in early March and then to Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. on June 19th. Wise remained at Auburn.
When detectives got wind that Wise and Reyes had been chatting on the telephone, they went to Clinton to talk to Reyes’ fellow inmates. When they arrived, the first inmate they tried to interview told them that Nancy Ryan had told him to keep his mouth shut. Ryan had previously interrupted and ended questioning of Matias Reyes at mid-interview. What was going on? The DA’s office “declined to comment.” It was Nancy Ryan who authored Morgenthau’s 58-page affidavit recommending vacating all of the verdicts against the jogger five.
Meanwhile, Humberto Arroyo, one of the lead detectives in the ‘89 jogger case, is skeptical that Reyes could have done what he said he did. In 1989 Matias Reyes was a tubby teen, five feet eight inches tall and weighing 185 pounds. The jogger was a trim, trained, compact athlete. The notion that this fat kid caught up with the jogger while lugging a heavy tree branch strikes Arroyo as laughable. Former sex-crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein agrees: “She was running a seven-and-a-half-minute mile. I don’t believe for a minute he could have caught up with her.”
Don’t Be Fooled
Now that Robert Morgenthau’s affidavit, authored by Nancy Ryan, has created the false public perception that the five convicted rapists have been exonerated, the media are flush with opinions about the ‘89 rape case. Foremost among those eager to be heard are the people “who always knew” that the defendants were “completely innocent,” even from the first day. Also in prominence are left-leaning academics who believe that false confessions are epidemic in America. The media personalities who interview these sages don’t know as much about the case as you do right now. These media interviews are just occasions for left-leaning folks to exchange dark innuendos about the police and American justice. Just remember: the leftist academics, the liberal media and the money-hungry lawyers are focusing on the vagaries of the confessions because they don’t want your attention to wander to the other evidence, such as:
1. The police interviewed 37 teenagers. Two of them were eyewitnesses to a gang rape. Lamont McCall and Orlando Escobar both identified Kharey Wise, Kevin Richardson and Steve Lopez as active assailants. Escobar also identified a teen called Tony, who may have been Reyes. Tony was Reyes’ chosen nickname.
2. In sworn testimony, Melody Jackson recalled how Kharey Wise had telephoned her. Wise had denied raping the victim; he said he had only touched the victim’s legs. Ms. Jackson stands by her story. This places Kharey Wise at the scene of the attack. He was not being coerced by the police when he made this admission.
3. The doctor who led the medical team that tended the victim for seven weeks says that her injuries are not consistent with the blunt weapons that Matias Reyes says he used. Only the teens mentioned an edged weapon.
4. While in a holding cell, the teens were overheard discussing a mugging victim who had asked them if they wanted to race. That victim had not yet given this true detail to the police. This makes hash of the defense claim that their only crime was “being black and Latino teenagers in Central Park.” They were “wilding,” a word invented by Harlem teenagers to describe their own behavior. Several of the defendants correctly described one mugging victim’s clothing: the rather unusual Army fatigues.
5. If Yusef Salaam had never put his hand on the victim, then why would he suddenly confess when told that it was possible to lift fingerprints from the victim’s clothing?
6. When Kevin Richardson was first apprehended and was riding in the back of a police cruiser, he blurted out, “Antron did it.” When the cop asked, “Did what?”, Richardson replied, “The murder.” The jogger’s near-dead body would not be discovered for another three hours.
7. After their apprehension, Raymond Santana and Steve Lopez were riding in the back of another police cruiser when a cop remarked, “You guys shouldn’t be out there beating up on people, you should be with your girlfriends.” Santana then looked at Lopez and cracked, “I already got mines.” They then burst into uproarious laughter.
Way back in 1989 the families of these dirt bags were behaving like the families with dirt-bag relatives. Kharey Wise’s mother, Deloris, wouldn’t even let her son come home. Back then no one was talking about coerced confessions or “tricknology.” But now, after thirteen years of being courted and tutored and carefully coached by activist preachers and activist lawyers and with a multi-million-dollar jackpot at the end of the rainbow, the families are moaning about what poor, hapless, long-suffering . . .and deserving victims they are. Now it’s all about “Save my child” and “We Shall Overcome.” Everyone is playing his assigned role. It’s all being stage managed by lawyers and preachers and politicians. If the five convicts and their lawyers get so much as a nickel from New York, then it will just be their latest indecency.
Here Comes the Judge
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Charles Tejada granted a defense request to hold the hearing on vacating the Jogger Five convictions a month early. The date was rushed ahead from February 6th to January 6th, 2003. The defense requested an expedited hearing because Nancy Ryan’s lavish belief in Matias Reyes’ confession left little doubt that the DA’s office would not challenge the defense request. Defense lawyer Michael Warren was eager to spring Raymond Santana from the slammer. Santana was back behind bars for a drug offense. Because of his previous rape and robbery convictions, Santana was convicted as a repeat offender on the drug charge. If Santana’s rape and robbery convictions were vacated, then he could be sprung from prison and be back on the streets. Warren said he had chatted it up with Nancy Ryan and she had “no objection to this court’s vacating the verdicts at the earliest possible date.”
Nancy Ryan also intervened personally to keep Kharey Wise from being sent back to prison in October, 2002. Wise, who had been convicted on robbery and sexual abuse charges, had refused to attend mandated sex-anger management classes. The possibility of sending him back to prison arose after he flunked a drug test. So who needs a defense lawyer when a lead prosecutor is determined to keep a dope-sucking convict on the streets?
Linda Fairstein, who prosecuted the jogger case, said that she was “pretty shocked” at Judge Tejada’s decision because the New York Police Department had not yet completed its reinvestigation of the jogger rape case. The former head of the DA’s sex crimes unit believes that Reyes should be questioned at a public hearing to resolve the glaring inconsistencies and omissions in his story, which were glossed over in Nancy Ryan’s carefully edited version of Reyes’ alleged recollection of the crime. Judge Tejada signed an order directing prosecutors to explain why he should not void the verdicts on January 6th, 2003.
Judge Tejada was nominated by the paleo-liberal Governor Mario Cuomo to be a Court of Claims judge. Before that Tejada headed the Legal Aid Society’s Harlem Neighborhood Office. He served as the regional director of the federal Education Department’s Civil Rights Office. Tejada now serves on a special panel, the Franklin Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities, which was established to monitor the treatment of non-white people in the courts. In short, the defense request for an early hearing was a slam dunk; the judge was fellow die-hard liberal.
Is Nancy Ryan Trustworthy?
Way back in 1992, Linda Fairstein was the star prosecutor of the Central Park wilding and rape case. She was a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Virginia Law School. She had been named chief of the Manhattan DA’s sex crimes unit in 1976. She would triumph in the Robert Chambers “Preppy Killer” case. She was tough but congenial; she was media savvy; she was a power luncher. She was known as a champion of the rights of rape victims. One magazine called her “The Perky Prosecutor.”
When Hillary Clinton insisted that Bill appoint a woman as the next attorney general, Linda Fairstein zoomed up to Clinton’s short list. Linda was summoned for an interview with Clinton’s search committee. She says their decision floored her: “The only negative information given to them was given by one of my colleagues – Nancy Ryan.” Said Fairstein, “I don’t know the substance of what it was. They told me it was not [my] ethics.” “They said, ‘Watch your back, there’s somebody up there [in New York] who doesn’t like you.” The cabinet post went to the bumbling Janet Reno. Fairstein and Ryan worked in the same office for 25 years. Linda swears that they never exchanged an angry word; she said that the Washington interview “was the first time I ever heard her feelings were strong.”
When the jogger case began, Ryan and Fairstein were both deputy chiefs of the DA’s trial division; they were equals. Said DA office spokeswoman Barbara Thompson: “It [the case] went to Linda’s sex crimes unit, and it stayed there.” The case gave Linda national publicity. An unnamed source told the New York Post that, “From the time she arrived, Linda was getting a lot of publicity. There were not that many stories about Nancy. That created part of Nancy’s resentment, or envy.”
Is it possible that one of the most significant legal decisions of the decade was made by a woman nursing a 10-year-old grudge? Clearly, something was blinding Nancy Ryan to the glaring flaws in the Matias Reyes confession.
Nancy Ryan’s Twisted Vision
Defense lawyer Michael Warren applauded Nancy Ryan’s personal assessment of Matias Reyes and his confession. Lawyer Myron Beldock praised the psychopathic Mr. Reyes for confessing. Beldock said, “We wouldn’t be here but that Matias Reyes found a conscience and came forward.” Despite Mr. Reyes’ long history of rape, robbery, sodomy, torture, murder and mutilation, Mr. Beldock proclaimed that Matias Reyes had “redeemed himself.” Whoops of joy greeted Mr. Beldock as he emerged from the district attorney’s office at 100 Centre Street and flashed the crowd a big thumbs up. Yusef Salaam’s mother floated across the lobby singing “Victory today is mine!” The crowd outside chanted “Black power!” and “Down with the racist police.”
What was most striking about the Nancy Ryan report is her eagerness to believe the demented Matias Reyes. The report says that Reyes “has consistently proven to be reliable and accurate,” and “Reyes also has been candid, even with respect to aspects of his history that might cast doubt on his credibility.”
Mike Sheehan, who was assigned to the ‘89 case as a homicide detective (the jogger was expected to die) said he was outraged by the report. He called it shallow. Sheehan said that his experience with Reyes had taught him that Reyes was manipulative and untrustworthy. Police investigators conducted an independent review of Reyes’ account and found it to be vague and contradictory. They noted that Matias Reyes was unable to recall anything he had done either before of after the attack. He had offered three versions of how he dragged the victim through almost 100 yards of underbrush: by the feet, by the arms and by the waist. Reyes misidentified the victim’s clothing; he preposterously described the jogger as a slow-moving heavyset woman, which she most definitely was not. He said that she was “not very fast” even though she habitually ran a seven-and-a-half-minute mile on her nightly Central Park jog. The time lines that are being used to make the involvement of the Jogger Five seem less probable depend on the jogger being a swift runner, so the Ryan report has embraced a contradiction. Reyes was a fat boy who was lugging a heavy tree branch. According to the Ryan report “The stick was substantial; it required two hands to hold.” He could never have overtaken the fast, compact, athletic woman.
The report acknowledged that Reyes could not explain several elements of the crime. He couldn’t recall important details of what happened in the ravine. Reyes told prosecutors that the victim ran from him after he raped her, an assertion that the report says is “probably not correct.” The 58-page report to Judge Tejada does not mention that Reyes did not recognize the crime scene.
Morgenthau’s spokeswoman, Barbara Thompson, dismissed criticism that the report concealed crucial facts. Thompson insisted, “Everything that was relevant was included in the report.” Horse feathers.
The report says that “investigators have been unable to find any evidence that, as of 1989, Reyes knew or associated with the defendants or any of the individuals known to have been in the park with them on the night of April 19.” So what? None of the defendants were ever close friends, not then and not now. Many of the 35 teens who went wilding that night knew each other only by name, or by face, or not at all. Reyes worked at a bodega on 102nd Street across the street from a police station. The cops would stop in for coffee; they called Reyes “Tony.” Everyone knew him as Tony; he was just a neighborhood face.
Because Matias Reyes raped several women by himself, and because he raped the jogger, Nancy Ryan reasoned that Reyes alone attacked the jogger. This is just plain stupid. And besides, Reyes didn’t always act alone. Police investigators discovered that Reyes committed several robberies with companion criminals. Reyes has admitted that he and another teenager acted together when they sexually assaulted Matias Reyes’ own mother. The Ryan report is silent about these “accomplice” crimes.
The Ryan report holds that it’s impossible to tell if she was attacked by more than one person, but the chief of the medical team that treated the victim says that it’s very unlikely that one person inflicted so much damage. The doctor says she was cut with an edged weapon; Reyes says he used blunt weapons.
Nancy Ryan claims that prison inmates supported Reyes’ credibility, but the police interviewed an inmate who said that Reyes described how he attacked the jogger only after a group of teens had beaten her. Nancy Ryan, personally, terminated police interviews with Matias Reyes and prison inmates thereby suppressing evidence that would have contradicted her pet theory.
The Ryan report frets about a lack of physical evidence against the Jogger Five. Nancy maintains a stony silence about the grass and dirt stains that were smeared on one teen’s underwear. To get such stains a person must drop his pants and get down on the ground. Nancy is tightlipped about the nasty three-inch-long fingernail scratch beneath Kevin Richardson’s left eye, the one he says was inflicted on him by the female jogger.
Matias Reyes was deeply confused about the details of his sex attack on a woman in Central Park on April 17, 1989, even though he was being questioned about it only 4 months after the crime was committed. Now, Nancy Ryan wants everyone to accept his account of a crime he committed thirteen years ago, as though Reyes ever had any memory of his own behavior that was unclouded by delusion. The man says he wants to be a super hero “like Ice Man.” He says he wants to be “president or king.” Said Dr. N.G.Berrill, the psychologist who interviewed Reyes in 1991 as part of his defense: “He was a very bad historian. Everything was very vague.”
Linda Fairstein observed: “The internal inconsistencies of his story are extraordinary. Here we just have Nancy Ryan saying, ‘I believe him.’” A law enforcement source quoted in the Daily News (12/6/02 p.5) said: “It’s a total disgrace that the Manhattan district attorney’s office would allow one assistant prosecutor’s opinion to rule the day. The district attorney’s response is too heavily weighed on propping up Reyes’ credibility and not on doing a proper, objective, investigation.”
The Reverend Al Sharpton took time out from preparing to become the next president of the United States to announce his intention to call for a criminal investigation into how the police and prosecutors conducted the 1989 investigation of the Central Park rape and wilding case. God bless our weird republic.
It was all over in a scant five minutes; Judge Tejada simply accepted Nancy Ryan’s carefully tailored crime theory without criticism or question. The judge remarked, “After careful consideration of all the papers and all the arguments presented in the papers, the motion is granted as to all the convictions.” As Tejada made his ruling, relatives of the Jogger Five erupted in cheers, clapping and foot stomping. None of the convicts were present. With the exception of Raymond Santana’s father, the life-long nurse’s assistant, all of the relatives present in court were women. The New York Times called them a “grim sisterhood.”
Judge Tejada’s ruling squeaked past an early-morning request by the Detectives’ Endowment Association for a temporary restraining order from an appellate judge; Judge Tejada quickly issued his ruling before Appellate Judge David B. Saxe finished reviewing the union’s request. The detectives’ union wanted more time to demonstrate the errors in Nancy Ryan’s report. “This was an unnecessarily one-sided investigation,” said union attorney Richard Dienst. “Yes, we believe that Reyes did participate, but that doesn’t exonerate the other defendants.”
The detectives wanted a court hearing where Reyes would have to submit to critical questioning. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said of Matias Reyes’ version of events: “A jury considering his testimony would have to take his credibility as a murderer and serial rapist into account.” Mental health professionals had declared Reyes to be “a psychopath.” The commissioner said that the prosecutor’s office had withheld forensic evidence, prison records and access to witnesses. The police had previously complained that prosecutors had frustrated attempts to interview inmates and denied them reports from a private forensic laboratory that performed DNA tests for the district attorney’s office.
Judge Tejada’s written statement was pretty much a carbon copy of Nancy Ryan’s arguments. The judge quoted the Ryan report at length.
The families of the Jogger Five, their attorneys and the New York media immediately set about the business of misrepresenting the meaning of Judge Tejada’s ruling. The liberal lie machine was pumping at full throttle within a heartbeat.
This is the truth: Judge Tejada simply vacated the convictions of the Jogger Five on the technical grounds of “new evidence.” This ruling did not exonerate the convicts, not did it find them not guilty or innocent. There is ample evidence to warrant putting all five of these convicts on trial again for the crimes of April 19, 1989, but that will not happen. Because all five convicts have served their minimum sentences, there is no political willpower to retry them. After the judge vacated the convictions, Assistant District Attorney Peter Casolaro instantly responded with a motion dismissing all indictments and forgoing a new trial.
It was then that the liberal spin doctors shifted into high gear; the campaign was on to taint any future jury pool by inflating the myth that the Jogger Five were the victims of racial injustice. Defense attorneys Michael Warren and Roger Wareham spoke of justice denied. They demanded “reparations” in a not-so-subtle attempt to imbue their clients with the aura of innocent martyrdom shared by the black slaves of yesteryear. Attorney Wareham had previously driven home the racial martyrdom angle by declaring that the arrest and convictions of the Jogger Five resulted from “a political crusade against them in defense of white womanhood. They were a victim of that mentality.” Lawsuits were a-comin’, they promised. Lawyer Warren whined: “Their youth was stolen from them, they were not able to enjoy the fruits of childhood simply because they existed behind the cold prison bars for crimes they did not commit.” It was enough to make the angels weep . . .or burst out laughing. Mr. Warren did not elaborate about which “fruits of childhood” his knife-wielding, rock-hurling, pipe-swinging, punch-throwing, boot-stomping clients had not been able to enjoy.
The liberal press understood its role in the unfolding drama. Two newspaper articles appeared, both of them written by Samuel Maull of the Associated Press. The first was published on December 20, 2002 beneath the headline “5 are cleared of park rape and ready to sue N.Y.” To the average citizen the word “cleared” suggested a good deal more than a mere vacating of a conviction for technical legal reasons. Mr. Maull tells us that “The defendants, all of whom have completed their jail sentences, are likely to return to court with lawsuits against the city. . .” This was misleading. These five jerks were convicted of committing one of the most hideous crimes in New York’s history. And their punishment? Antron McCray served four years less than his maximum assigned sentence. Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise all served three-and-a-half years less than their assigned maximum sentences. Raymond Santana: 2 and a half years less. Maximum sentences are window dressing. None of these convicts “completed their jail sentences.” A box in this same article included photos of the five convicts beneath the misleading word “cleared.”
The second article by Samuel Maull appeared four days later beneath the headline “Cleared of rape and now free.” The subtitle read “Exoneration in jogger case shortens man’s unrelated drug-crime term.” The article cheerily informs us that Raymond Santana “will spend Christmas as a free man.” Attorney Roger Wareham had successfully petitioned State Supreme Court Justice James Yates to vacate Santana’s drug conviction and impose a revised lesser sentence. The judge took pains to point out that, “It does not mean that the [drug] conviction is invalid. It does not mean that the conviction has been set aside.” Still, the headline conveyed the false information that Santana was “cleared” and exonerated.
The Newark Star Ledger also published an article by Robert L. Steinback, writing for the Knight Ridder News Service, which was riddled with falsehoods. The headline screamed “Jogger case is a study in false justice.” The subtitle read “Innocence doesn’t preclude confessions.” In truth, the Jogger Five were not found “innocent,” their convictions were simply vacated for technical reasons. Mr. Steinback misidentified New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Galligan as the judge who vacated the convictions. It was, in fact, Justice Charles Tejada.
Mr. Steinback recalls the crime wave of April 19, 1989 as “a spree the media would dub ‘wilding’.” No, Mister Steinback, the media had never heard that word before; it was the platoon of rampaging Harlem teenagers who dubbed their own self-chosen form of nocturnal entertainment “wilding.” Wilding is an authentic artifact of the Harlem youth culture.
Mr. Steinback then floats the preposterous falsehood that none of the five teens ever made any reference to a female jogger or a rape. Is brain death a requirement at the Knight Ridder News Service? Did Robert Steinback just return from a mission to a faraway planet? All five of the convicted teens described the assault on the jogger in lurid detail. One of them even alluded to her as a murder victim moments after his apprehension and hours before the police knew of her existence. Independent eyewitnesses Orlando Escobar and Lamont McCall also identified several of the convicts as assailants of the jogger.
The ignorant Mr. Steinback then wrote that “No physical evidence pointed to the boys as suspects. No blood or mud was found on their clothing, though the rape scene had plenty of both.” After feeding this line of crap to Professor Steven Drizin of Northwestern University, whom Steinback bills as someone “who has studied coerced confessions,” he elicits from the professor the desired response: “Teenage boys can’t make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without leaving a trail of evidence, and this was a very personal and messy crime.” Indeed it was, professor. What Mr. Steinback didn’t tell his readers, or the professor, is that one of the convicted teenager’s underwear was smeared with mud and grass stains that were consistent with the crime scene. Perhaps Mr. Steinback was too lazy to dig up the facts, or to even read the newspapers.
Steinback then goes on to mimic the falsehoods of the defense attorneys, spouting nonsense about how “the detectives and prosecutors who questioned the boys kept them for as long as possible, isolated from family members and friends who had come to assist them.” This is a lie. No suspect under 16 years of age was questioned until a parent or guardian was present. The sole exception was Yusef Salaam, who had insisted that he was 16 years old and had produced a bogus transit pass to support his claim. Salaam’s interrogation was immediately suspended when the police were informed of his true age.
The majority opinion of the New York Appeals Court held that the police acted responsibly and lawfully. The sole dissenting voice was that of Justice Vito Titone who felt that the cops had isolated the lying Yusef Salaam too zealously. Mr. Steinback uses Judge Titone’s minority opinion in reference to one specific suspect to taint his readers perception of all of the interrogations. In fact, the suspects spent most of their time in custody sleeping, eating or waiting for their parents to arrive; they even joked with each other about the people they had brutalized in Central Park. They sang a chorus of Doin’ the Wild Thing. But why would a nice liberal boy like Bobby Steinback want to confuse his readers with messy facts that don’t square with the blinkered see-no-evil liberal world perspective?
And so it went. West of the Hudson River the only information the public received about this case has come in the form of thumbnail sketches by the likes of Robert Steinback, or sound bites from liberal cheerleaders such as Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, all of which promoted the myth of America is a place where minorities can’t get a fair shake. The only true victim in this case is the woman who still suffers neurological damage from the sadistic brutality that was visited upon her “just for fun.” The perpetrators have done some jail time. Nancy Ryan has, once again, slyly slipped the knife to Linda Fairstein. The aging Robert Morgenthau has been spared the strenuous task of defending the Jogger Five convictions. The police have been denied the opportunity to present a thorough and thoughtful reexamination of the case, including new evidence.
All that is needed now is for time to pass and for memory to fade. During this time the defense will sustain the monotonous drumbeat that the Jogger Five are innocent, were exonerated, were the victims of police coercion, were robbed of their childhood, were only guilty of being black or Hispanic and walking in the park that night. After a while this mantra will have become the accepted folk wisdom of Harlem and minority America. After that, any jury will be as fact-resistant as the O.J. jury; no prosecutor could possibly sway them with the truth. It won’t matter that the convicted contributed to their own convictions or that there is no evidence whatsoever of intentional wrong doing by the authorities. The jury will be in the mood to shower these undeserving cry babies with the earnings of hard-working taxpayers. It will just be another day in our weird republic.
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Copyright 2002 & 2003
Sources for this essay: about one hundred articles from the New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Newsday, Newsweek and the Newark Star Ledger. Also cited: The End of Racism by Dinesh D’Souza. Day-of-the-week information from the World Almanac. Phase-of-the-moon information from the U.S. Naval Observatory.