October 13, 2002

In Their Own (Coerced) Words

"Teens' stories vary on crucial points;" or,
Black teens scared into telling lies on themselves by white authorities.

They describe her cries for help. They tell how she kicked and clawed for dear life. They recount how their pals argued over who would get to rape her next.

More than 13 years after the vicious attack on a jogger in Central Park, the videotaped confessions of four Harlem teenagers remain as chilling as ever.

Most chilling is the fact that these so-called confessions are obvious lies told by boys who were desperate to leave police custody and/or were coerced into making the false statements. Not one of the boys tells a similar story. In fact, many of the details clearly prove that there was no gang rape and that Matias Reyes most definitely acted alone:

1. Location — Antron McCray says it happened on the path surrounding the reservoir; Kevin Richardson says it occurred on a non-descript road; Raymond Santana says the rape took place west of the reservoir; Kharey Wise was interviewed twice, and in each videotaped session, he makes divergent claims about the assault. He does however agree with the location. But he had help — the policeprosecutors showed him crime scene photos and he stated that it "depicts the location" of the rape.

2. Victim Identification — McCray describes the jogger as wearing blue shorts with a white shirt; Richardson claims close cropped black biker pants, a white shirt like McCray, but in a tank top style. He also says the jogger is shorter than average with a pretty short haircut; Wise first says the jogger was wearing sweat pants, than after coaxing from Prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer, changes it to just shorts.

3. Number of assailants — Richardson and Wise (during each of his "confessions") both agree with seven or more rapists, while McCray says six and Santana claims as little as four.

4. Weapon(s) of choice — In his first interview, Wise claims a pipe was used against the jogger; McCray and Santana agree with the latter boy saying a brick was also used; in his second interview, Wise remembers that the weapons included not a pipe, but a brick like Santana and a rock (again, with extreme coaching from Lederer); Richardson saw no weapons present.

5. The Kharey Wise Factor — Most disturbing amongst all the claims was Wise's remembrance of a knife being used. There were no injuries caused by a knife found on the jogger although he claims he saw another boy cutting her legs while she was being raped.

What gives the most credence to the boys claims of coercion is the fact that they each minimized their role in the "gang rape," perhaps because the police and prosecutors tricked them into making any statement in order for them to be released from police custody. It appears that they were lied to and told if they had little contact with the jogger, they could go home after ratting on others. Each of their statements is consistent with that theory.

While many supporters of the trumped up convictions repeatedly state that all of the members of the Central Park 5 had at least one parent present during their videotaped confessions, it's an outright lie. Yusef Salaam was never videotaped and a written statement the police claim as his was never signed. McCray, Richardson and Santana were videotaped after many hours of questioning (and coaxing?) by the police and prosecutors working in tandem. The times of their confessions were just before 1 a.m., 4:40 a.m. and 2:20 a.m. respectively. And Wise, because he was 16, didn't need a parent present during questioning like the others when he was first videotaped more than two days after the attack at 12:30 p.m., April 22, 1989.

There is a gap of 75 minutes between Kharey Wise's two "confessions" with very chilling statements that should have given pause to those who are supposed to seek justice and the public-at-large:

"The whole thing I played innocent and I know I wasn't,"he explains. He says no one forced him to change his statement. Then recounts seeing Richarson hit the woman with a rock. He says he fondled her legs.

At the end of the statement, he explains again why he didn't tell the truth the first time.

"I thought about all the lies I said and all the the detective came in my face, arguing with me, cursing at me and hitting on me. I thought about it and said to myself, you know you said a lie, you said about at least 10, 20 lies. I said like from the first minute I stepped inside, all I had to do was tell the truth and I would've been home, but no, I told a lie."

[emphasis mine]

The shenanigans are so outrageous that at least two jurors believe they may have convicted three of the Central Park 5 boys wrongfully. One juror (from the first jogger trial during which McCray, Salaam and Santana were convicted) now believes that Reyes was the sole rapists and the confessions were manipulated.

"[Harold] Brueland, a state employee who lives on the upper West Side, said his gut now tells him that the teens who went to prison for the "wilding" outrage never encountered the jogger the night of April 19, 1989.

Asked whether he thinks the convictions were incorrect, he said, "Yes, I do."

"I have a feeling that they were out there causing trouble — but it may very well be that it was Matias Reyes who attacked her," Brueland said.

He's haunted by the possibility that he helped put the wrong people — Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam — behind bars inthe first place.

"It's terrible, and it should weigh on the DA's mind and the judge's mind and all the police officers who stood up there and testified," Brueland said.

"Don't they have any scruples?"

[ ... ]

"Brueland's change of heart is especially dramatic because he was one of the jurors who persuaded the panel's lone holdout — Ronald Gold — to vote for across-the-board convictions during 10 days of tense deliberations.

"At the time, he said, he believed police officers who testified that the boys' confessions were legitimate, and he was untroubled by inconsistencies in those statements.

[ ... ]

But viewed through the prism of the new evidence, the conflicts worry Brueland.

"It's beginning to look like words were put in their mouths," he said, theorizing that police told the suspects they could simply go home if they simply said they were at the scene. "There was much more trust given to those confessions than was warranted."

Unfortunately, the Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morgenthau, hasn't been persuaded by the new evidence and the obvious misconduct of his office and assisting police detectives:

"We're talking to all the witnesses, all people who may have been witnesses but who did not testify," said Morgenthau.

That sounds more like a desperate attempt to preserve the convictions than to seek true justice in this case. I've loathed Comatose Bob for many years. The amount of respect given to this miscreant is unwarranted, suspicious and downright sickening.

After large sums of public money was used to wrongly convict the Central Park 5, in the face of Reyes's additional rapes (and eventual murder of a single mom while her child[ren] listened in an adjacent room), with racially charged hysteria responsible for large scale changes in the juvenile justice system, Bob Morgenthau wants to attempt to get the story straight?!?

"We were accused of rushing to judgment the first time. We want to be as thorough as possible this time. We are going to leave no stone unturned to get all the facts," said.

Unfortunately, thousands upon thousands were adversely affected and taxpayers will have to ante up huge sums for wrongful convictions. And it says nothing about the women that could have remained unharmed both physically and emotionally, the Central Park 5 can't get their reputations back, nor their lost years — I already see conservabloggers rationalizing the assbackwardsness of their convictions.

What must the Central Park Jogger be going through after all these years? When she was finally thisclose to moving on with her life.

Posted by ronn at October 13, 2002 02:21 AM

So (10 months later) how did Morgenthau's investigation turn out? Were police and prosecuters exonerated? Posted by: Russell on August 26, 2003 09:46 PM
Nope! If anthing, the report by the DA's office showed that the "investigation" was shoddy and probably coerced. The NYPD, shocking I know, says they believe the CP5 happened onto Trisha Meili after Reyes. That theory would be hilarious were it not for the fact of the brutalness of the attack by Reyes. Especially since he raped others and killed a mother with her young children nearby. Sadly, not one officer or ADA will face up to their part in this racist, misguided injustice. Posted by: ronn on August 26, 2003 10:20 PM
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