Five Confessions – No Guilt

In a rare occurrence, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office asked the courts to dismiss all charges against five men previously convicted of the rape of a female jogger in Central Park. The men, all between 14 and 16 years of age when the attack occurred in 1989, had confessed – more or less – to the crime. Then why the dismissal?

Another man, Matias Reyes, also eventually confessed to the crime. And while there was little to no physical evidence against the five boys, there was DNA evidence against Reyes.

So why did the five boys confess? It could have something to do with the fact that their interrogations lasted from 14 to 30 hours each. Or that at times they were questioned without their guardians or legal counsel present. Or that at least one of the boys suffered from borderline mental retardation. Or that they were told physical evidence linked them to the victim when it really did not. Or that they were led to believe they’d get an easier time of it if they implicated their friends.

Even though their confessions were contradictory and inconsistent, both with their friend’s confessions and with the testimony of other witnesses, the boys were convicted. And while they served their time, the real attacker, Reyes, went on to rape and kill another woman.

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