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Trump refuses to apologize for Central Park Five death penalty ad

Justin Sink, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump again refused to apologize for promoting false accusations against five black and Latino teenagers who were convicted for the 1989 rape of a jogger in New York City, even though they were exonerated by DNA evidence.

Trump has long been attached to the case of the "Central Park Five" because he ran a full-page ad in The New York Times less than a month after the attack calling for New York to "Bring back the death penalty" for violent criminals. He has never apologized for the ad.

"You have people on both sides of that," Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday after he was asked about the case. "They admitted their guilt."

Netflix Inc. recently released a miniseries, "When They See Us," that has drawn fresh attention to the incident. Trump has previously noted that the five teenagers confessed in police interrogations.

A convicted murderer and rapist named Matias Reyes who was serving life in prison confessed in 2001 that he raped the jogger. His DNA matched two samples found on and near the victim, and he claimed to have acted alone. He wasn't charged because the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.

The teenagers' advocates have long contended that their confessions were coerced. A 2002 review of the case by the New York Police Department concluded there was no police misconduct. The review suggested Reyes' claim he acted alone wasn't credible, and that there was physical evidence that at least some of the teenagers may have been involved in the jogger's rape or in other assaults in Central Park the same night.

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The convictions of the five teenagers were vacated and dismissed in December 2002. Under Mayor Bill De Blasio, the city agreed to a $40 million settlement with the five men in 2014 without admitting wrongdoing. Trump called the settlement "outrageous" in 2016.

(Henry Goldman contributed to this report.)

(c)2019 Bloomberg News

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