Trump Took Out Ad Seeking Death Penalty for 14 Year Old

Raymond Santana was 14 years old in 1989 when he and four others were wrongfully accused of raping the Central Park jogger. Days after the crime, Donald Trump spent $85,000. on ads in four New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for the five. The ads ran in New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and New York Newsday, while the jogger was still in the hospital in a coma.

In the ads, which have the banner headline "Bring Back the Death Penalty," Trump wrote, "They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence."

The youths were convicted at trial and sent to prison, but 13 years later, DNA evidence confirmed they were not the attackers. The person whose DNA did match later confessed. Santana is outraged that Trump, to this day, refuses to apologize. [More...]

He says Trump's call for the "death penalty" helped fuel the media firestorm before the suspects even went to trial.

"It says a lot about his character. If he can give the death penalty to 14-year-old, 15-year-old kids then there's nothing he would not do. Those are characteristics of a tyrant, not characteristics of a president," Santana said.

All five are now suing New York for malicious prosecution.

According to the New York Times (October 23, 2002), Trump rejected requests to apologize, when the evidence came to light someone else committed the rape:

No," Mr. Trump said yesterday. "They confessed. Now they say they didn't do it. Who am I supposed to believe?"

Trump's ads are widely believed to have poisoned the potential jury pool. As Michael Warren, one of teen's lawyers told the Times:

"It was outrageous," Mr. Warren said, "the manner that Mr. Trump used to engage in his own personal form of rhetoric. A lot of people felt it colored the eyes of prospective jurors who ultimately sat on the case. Now it's even more appalling, with new evidence that points exclusively to another person. I think Donald Trump at the very least owes a real apology to this community and to the young men and their families.

No physical evidence linked any of the five youths to the crime. Only only one person's semen was recovered and DNA has proven it was that of Mattias Reyes, a serial rapist serving 33 years for murder and rapes, who finally confessed 13 years later. The exonerated teens' confessions were coerced. In addition, the prosecutors misstated the evidence at trial.

The wrongfully convicted teens provided this account of the effect of the wrongful convictions in November, 2002. Their families revealed what it was like for them.

Their convictions were reversed in December, 2002. You can read summaries here and in this article, A Journey Through the Tangled Case of the Central Park Jogger: When Justice Is a Game.

Trump's ads were met with condemnation at the time. He defended them ("Deadly Donald", United Press International, April 30, 1989:)

''How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits?'' Trump says in the ad. ''Criminals must be told that their civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!''

In a telephone interview, Trump expanded by saying, ''The criminal is being protected and the victim is getting zero protection. How does she (the jogger) have civil liberties lying in hospital, close to death and these criminals are already chanting 'police brutality?' It's absolutely disgraceful, disgraceful.''

[Articles available on Lexis.com)

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  • Display: Sort:
    Great find, Jeralyn (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by shoephone on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:12:42 AM EST
    Trump has been thin-skinned and hostile to media questions over the past few days, but it's important to show that he has been acting completely unhinged for decades.

    I saw the interview on NY 1 (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by andgarden on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:33:32 AM EST
    Raymond Santana was very good on camera. His outrage is genuine and understandable. Very damaging to Trump IMO.

    One would hope... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 08:54:55 AM EST
    but with how a potential Trump "base" is shaping up, it wouldn't be nearly as damaging as it should be.

    To Paraphrase (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by The Maven on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:01:33 AM EST
    one of Trump's kindred spirits from his pre-bankruptcy days, Leona Helmsley, apologies are for the little people.  After all, his entire character is structured around the conceit that Donald J. Trump is of a better class of person than you or I, and one simply doesn't demean oneself in front of one's "lessers", right?

    Speaking of Trump (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:33:40 AM EST
    does anyone else here find reality shows like the Apprentice and Real Housewives offensive because they promote meanness, bullying and diffusion of responsibility, i.e., group members feel freer to act out because no one in particular becomes responsible?  I see this type of bullying played out regularly on the political stage in the U.S., and seems to take the place of sincere & thoughtful discourse.  For those of you who are very young, I, for one, do not believe this was always the case, or at least the type of black/white, you're either a patriot or a traitor type of thinking did not always dominate the public discourse.  

    Your thoughts?

    Well, That is True of Every Reality Show I... (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:58:01 AM EST
    ... have had the mishap of watching.

    I think this is a chicken/egg question, are they promoting it, or is it our society they are revealing.  Which came first, the ugliness or reality TV ?

    I tend to think reality TV isn't promoting jack, they are just a reflection of good portion of our society.  If anything, I think some of the people on these shows are uglier that they let us see, and at times can't keep the ugliness under wraps.  Including the Trump himself, I guarantee his is far uglier when the cameras aren't rolling.

    Now maybe it's because most of the reality TV I catch is clips from the Soup, but I have a hard time believing Meatloaf was influenced by reality TV, he is simply an ugly spoiled thug, like Trump.  

    I am referring to the incident on the Apprentice in which Meatloaf literally blew a gasket over some missing paint or brushes and lost it on Gary Busey and accused him of pilfering the goods.  

    They were later found, and like Trump, no apology necessary, even though the damning accusations were later found out to be completely wrong.  I don't believe reality TV in any way effected how these two men treat people, they were doing it, and in all likelihood their fathers were doing it, long before that level of ugliness was ever broadcast.


    Agree as to chicken/egg (none / 0) (#9)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 10:17:21 AM EST
    But I find that when these shows are reviewed, e.g., Andy Cohen's "What what..." and the reunion shows, rarely are the gangleaders of mean called on their behavior -- it seems we're incapable of discerning bullying when we see it.  I believe these shows are a reflection of us, and that some, as you point out, may be exactly in real life as they appear, but I also think there's safety in numbers, both on some of these shows, in junior high school and beyond.  Sometimes I think many of us are still in junior high school (ok - middle school).

    I like the Apprentice shows (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:05:24 PM EST
    and don't find them mean, bullying or offensive.

    I think Trump's ads (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by cal1942 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:03:32 PM EST
    reflect one of his problems beyond just being a blowhard, worthless, spoiled little rich kid.

    Couldn't Trumps dispicable ad.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:11:46 AM EST
    have been considered threatening, menacing, or harassing a minor?

    Santana would make a fine candidate, very well said on his part.  And if anyone knows about our rot in Denmark, it's him...he lived it.

    How would that be? (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 11:16:28 AM EST
    He wasn't personally going to do it.  He was advocating for the state to carry out a legal sentence option. Trump was not threatening, menacing or harassing a minor.

    Is it despicable?  Yes.  Santana, as a defense lawyer, absolutely had to argue the jury pool was poisoned - but no one really knows if it was (in a city of 8 million people, my guess is, no). But whether or not you or Mr. Santana liked the message, Trump still has 1st Amendment rights.


    Not to make a death threat... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 11:32:09 AM EST
    You know me, I'm all for a very loose interpretation of 1st amendment rights...but this borders on fire in a theater.

    Just because he wasn't going to be doing the killing himself makes little difference, in fact that just makes him a coward on top of being a death-threat making major-league arsehole.


    whatever his rights (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 01:04:27 PM EST
    it doesn't fix the problem of his atrocious  judgment in calling for the death penalty for teenagers who have merely been accused of a heinous crime.

    For comparison, did Trump (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 09:33:26 AM EST
    call for the death penalty for the (white) "Preppy Murderer"?

    He'll be fired (none / 0) (#10)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 at 11:05:36 AM EST
    This is just another example of why I don't think Trump can win the nomination. There's hundreds of shady skeletons in his closet. He's spent a lifetime stepping on people to promote himself.

    The Repuvlican smell blood in the water. Obama is vulnerable. They'll hold their nose and put up another poster child like GWB and prop him up with a heavyweight lke Cheney was. The combination worked for them before. Why not again?

    Comment with false statement (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 30, 2011 at 01:00:21 AM EST
    about the interrogations deleted. You can read the court's description of how they were questioned here. The dissent extensively recounts the facts.