Central Park 5 prosecutor Linda Fairstein leaves posts after backlash from Netflix series
June 5 (UPI) — Former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein has resigned from positions at Vassar College and a charity devoted to feeding ill New Yorkers after her depiction in the Netflix series When They See Us, based on the infamous 1989 Central Park Five rape case.
Fairstein has faced a flood of criticism since the series began. Played by actress Felicity Huffman, Fairstein is portrayed as a prosecutor determined to convict five teenage boys for the rape and assault in the 30-year-old case. Fairstein, who headed the sex crimes unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office at the time, is shown in the series deciding early on that the five boys are guilty. Convicted and sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison, the teens were later cleared by DNA evidence.
“Ms. Fairstein felt that, given the recent widespread debate over her role in the Central Park case, she believed that her continuing as a board member would be harmful to Vassar,” college President Elizabeth Bradley said in a statement. “The events of the last few days have underscored how the history of racial and ethnic tensions in this country continue to deeply influence us today, and in ways that change over time.”
Fairstein, 72, also left the board of directors at God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit charity that prepares and delivers food to severely ill New Yorkers, and Safe Horizon, a non-profit that aids victims of abuse and violent crime.
When They See Us premiered last month and prompted some outrage, leading Fairstein to suspend her Twitter account and set her Facebook page to private.
In a letter to Safe Horizon’s chairman, Fairstein said the mini-series “depicts me in a fictionalized version of events, in a grossly and maliciously inaccurate manner.”
“Linda Fairstein has made the difficult decision to resign from the Safe Horizon board of directors. We thank her for her decades of pioneering work on behalf of victims of sexual assault and abuse,” Safe Horizon said in a statement.
Fairstein is also a bestselling author who released a book just last month. Some are calling for a boycott of her works due to the Central Park Five case.