Central Park Jogger and False Confessions
We watched the ABC News Prime Time special report tonight on the Central Park Jogger. We are very troubled by retired lead officer' Bert Arroyo's statements which we think are clearly belied by the record. There is no evidence to support the theory that more than one person raped the jogger. Yet Arroyo clings to this theory and says that the five boys raped the jogger and left her for dead before Matias comes along and finds her, and then rapes her again.
Arroyo says the boys were not questioned without their families. He points to the parents signatures on their statements. But the boys were taken to the scene of the crime by police before making their videotaped statements. Arroyo sees nothing wrong with this. We're supposed to believe that while the police and the boys were alone in the car (no family or lawyers) driving to and from the scene of the crime, and while at the scene, there was silence? We think it probable (as did the false confession experts on the show) that while at the scene of the crime the police fed details of the crime to the youths who were then brought back to the stationhouse to have their statements videotaped in the presence of their families.
The family members say they had been at the stationhouse for hours trying to speak with them and kept waiting. While they were kept waiting, unbeknownst to them, the police were already questioning the boys and engaging in coercive, manipulative and lying tactics (which courts allow) to get them to confess. And contrary to Arroyo's statements on the show, the boys were led to believe if they confessed they would get to go home.
If anyone on the show lacked credibility to us, it was Arroyo, not the five youths, not their families and not Matias.
The only evidence to support a rape charge against these five boys was their statements. Only only one person's semen was recovered and DNA has proven it was that of Matias who has now confessed. Forensic Expert Michael Baden stated on the show there were either no vaginal tears or one slight one, and the injuries and physical evidence were far more consistent with there being one rapist as opposed to many. The five youths had no blood on their clothing. No other phyiscal evidence linked them to the crime. The one hair found on the sweatshirt of one of the boy's was identified at his trial as belonging to the victim. Yet later DNA testing has shown this to be false. All gave different statements about who did what to whom-- none of their stories matched.
But that's our opinion. For an opinion of one who studied the trial evidence closely, and came to the conclusion that Prosecutor Linda Fairstein (barely mentioned, if at all, in the ABC News special) and the police tricked and manipulated false confessions from the youths, and improperly kept friends and family members from contact with one of them, we are reprinting the 1993 dissenting opinion of Judge J. Titone in the appeal of one of the youths, Yusef Salaam. The majority of the appeals court upheld Yusef's conviction and did not find his confession false. But the majority doesn't go into the facts much, saying its unnecessary because everyone knows them so well, and Judge Titone does. We think reading it brings out much more than the ABC show about what really happened at the police station.
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