Central Park Five’ Prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer out at Columbia Law Schoolby Tracy Connor, The Daily Beast June 14, 2019
The fallout from the Netflix miniseries about the Central Park Five case, When They See Us, continues to pile up.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer won’t be returning as a part-time lecturer at Columbia Law School after students demanded the university cut ties with her.
“The mini-series has reignited a painful—and vital—national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice,” law school dean Gillian Lester said in a statement Wednesday that was first reported by Bloomberg Law.
“I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most difficult issues of our time.”
More than 10,000 people had also signed a petition demanding Columbia cut ties with high-profile former prosecutor Linda Fairstein, but her fate was unclear.
However, Dutton, the publishing company that puts out Fairstein’s crime novels, dropped her under mounting pressure—just days after Fairstein praised the firm for standing by her. Fairstein also relinquished her role at several charities.
Fairstein has slammed the miniseries by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay as a “pack of lies” and pushed back on its portrayal of her and Lederman as racists who railroaded five black youths for the 1989 rape of a white jogger in Central Park.
After serial sex offender Matias Reyes copped to committing the vicious assault alone in 2001—and DNA proved he was the rapist—the five had their convictions vacated with the agreement of the DA’s office. In 2014, the city settled a lawsuit with the five for $41 million.
Nevertheless, Fairstein has continued to insist that she did nothing wrong, suggesting in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the teens might have been accomplices in the rape and were still guilty of other crimes committed in the park that night.
Both Fairstein and Lederer came under fire in 2012 when Ken Burns’ documentary about the case was released. But DuVernay’s dramatization of the case has been Netflix’s most-watched series every day since it’s May 31 premiere and has galvanized opposition to the lawyers.