Huffpost Black Voices

Central Park Five Seek Conversation With Woman Who Could Help Settle Long-Standing NYC Lawsuit

Posted: Updated:
CENTRAL PARK FIVE
Raymond Santana, right, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam, left, attend a rally at Foley Square Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

They spent more than 13 years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Since then, the Central Park Five, as the five men are known, have spent another 10 years waiting for the city of New York to settle a $250 million lawsuit they filed a year after their exoneration in 2002. Now, with a new hearing--and a new mayor--the men have new hope that their long wait might be over.

In a hearing in federal court on Tuesday, lawyers for the five men asked a judge to contact a woman who was earlier attacked by the same man who committed the crime they were accused of.

The attorneys are seeking a conversation with the unnamed woman who was assaulted by Matias Reyes, the man whose DNA and confession later led to the Central Park Five's exoneration. The incident took place on April 17, 1989, just two days before the infamous attack for which the Central Park Five served time, but it received much less publicity. However, the group's lawyers say the woman could help them determine why authorities didn't charge Reyes earlier.

"We would like to talk to her," lawyer Jonathan Moore said after a hearing on Tuesday. "Some of the same investigators who worked that case worked this case."

Moore said the woman’s description of her assailant helped police finally capture Reyes.

Also giving the men hope that their long journey might be nearing an end is the election of a new mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio, who has signaled that he is sympathetic to their plight. During an interview with Huff Post Live Tuesday, filmmaker Ken Burns, whose 2012 documentary told the story of the Central Park Five, said that he believes the new mayor will finally settle the case.

"Bill de Blasio, the mayor-elect, has agreed to settle this case, and though this is justice delayed way too long, and that is justice denied, [they] will not only be exonerated ... but they will have justice, they will see some closure, they will be able to be made whole," Burns said.

The next hearing for the civil suit is scheduled for January 21.

Around the Web

Central Park Five Lawsuit: New York City Mayor-Elect Bill De Blasio Agrees To ...

Central Park 5 want to talk to earlier park assault victim

Ken Burns says Bill de Blasio agrees to settle 'Central Park Five' suit

Briefing: A subpoena deadline passes, talk of a Central Park Five settlement

Central Park Five: Their Side Of The Story

False Confessions: NYC Still Struggles in Aftermath of Central Park Five

'Central Park Five' Film Kicks Off Black Film Festival Next Month

The Central Park Five

“The Central Park Five” — Net-flick of the week