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Central Park 5 prosecutor resigns from charity boards in wake of Netflix series

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Linda Fairstein, who prosecuted the five New York teenagers wrongfully convicted in the brutal 1989 assault and rape of a jogger in Central Park, has reportedly left the boards of several nonprofits amid renewed attention to her role in the case in the wake of the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us.”

Fairstein told Safe Horizon, a victims-services agency, that her presence on the organization’s board threatened to become a “lightning rod,” according to The New York Post.

{mosads}“I do not want to become a lightning rod to inflict damage on this organization, because of those now attacking my record of fighting for social justice for more than 45 years,” she wrote.

Fairstein told the New York tabloid she sent similar letters to Vassar College, God’s Love We Deliver, and the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit founded by actress Mariska Hargitay that provides services to domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors.

Fairstein characterized the new Netflix series as depicting her “in a grossly and maliciously inaccurate manner” and said threats on social media to withhold donations from charities she was involved in were “totally pig-headed and stupid.”

She served as head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s sex crimes unit from 1976 to 2002 and has defended the arrest and prosecution of the five teens, who have maintained they were coerced into confessing.

In 2002, the five men saw their convictions vacated due to DNA evidence exonerating them and a confession from serial rapist Mattias Reyes.

Appellate court judge Vito Titone, who was part of a panel who heard one of the five’s appeal, told Newsday in the early 2000s that Fairstein had “deliberately engineered the 15-year-old’s confession.”

Last year, Fairstein, who has also written several crime thrillers, was set to be honored with the Mystery Writers of America’s “grand master” award before Edgar Award-winning writer Attica Locke, who worked on the Netflix series, took umbrage at the honor, leading the organization to rescind it.

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