Seventeen years after DNA evidence concluded that the Central Park Five were not responsible for the brutal beating and rape of Trisha Meili in 1989, President Donald Trump told reporters he is not sure of their innocence.
“They admitted their guilt,” Trump said outside of the White House on Tuesday in response to a question from CNN’s April Ryan. “If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should have never of settled that case. So we’ll leave it at that.”
Trump’s disbelief that Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise are innocent is not new. Within a few days of the then teenagers’ arrests, Trump purchased full-page ads in several newspapers calling on the state to “bring back the death penalty and bring back our police!”
“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,” he said in the ad. “.. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them. I am looking to punish them.”
The exonerated men in the case claim that Trump has yet to apologize for his ad and his continuous accusations claiming they are guilty. While campaigning for the presidency in 2016, he told CNN’s Miguel Marquez that the accused “admitted they were guilty” — despite investigations showing they were coerced to do so.
“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty,” he said in the statement. “The fact that the case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”