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Demonizing Linda Fairstein

June 17, 2019

Unrepentant as she may be, what is happening to Linda Fairstein is disgraceful. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas at his Senate confirmation hearing, this is a high-tech lynching.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialAs the head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit, Fairstein supervised the prosecution of those who are now known as the Central Park Five — the five black and Hispanic teens convicted of raping a white jogger in Central Park in 1989. In 2002, after a serial rapist admitted raping the jogger, saying he had acted alone, and whose DNA matched that found at the crime scene, the teens’ wrongful convictions were vacated. They are now seen by many as innocent victims of a racist criminal justice system. Mayor Bill de Blasio awarded them $41 million as compensation.

Fairstein, meanwhile, has become a pariah, her reputation all but destroyed. The recent Netflix docudrama “When they See Us,” by director and writer Ava  DuVernay, portrays her as a racist, attributing to her such quotes as “Every young black male who was in the park last night is a suspect in the rape of that woman.”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittFairstein answered with a Wall Street Journal op-ed, saying the docudrama is so “full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”

Still, she has been forced to resign from the boards of various institutions, including her alma mater, Vassar College, following student protests there. The city’s Public Advocate has called for her disbarment. Her publisher, Dutton/Little Brown — [Since leaving the DA’s office some 15 years ago she became a best-selling crime writer] —has dropped her. Dutton’s decision coincided with a petition signed by over 125,000 people, demanding the publisher cut ties with her.

The campaign against her involves the hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein. The postings include:

bullet“How many stories did Linda Fairstein make up to further her career?” reads one post. “How many times did she say the evidence doesn’t match my version so let’s change it? She and every single person who knowingly went along with her needs to pay.”

bullet“Linda Fairstein manipulated the system by tampering with evidence and coerced five innocent boys into making false statements,” reads another. “Which lead [sic] to their childhood being robbed for many years. She’s some how [sic] making money from the pain and suffering these boys endured.”

bulletAnd this: “It's the same callousness slave traders, owners, and such displayed. Just an updated version.”

So is this where we are headed? Will decisions, like Dutton’s, be determined by mob rule? Where will it end? Last week, Elizabeth Lederer, who, under Fairstein, prosecuted the Central Park Five, announced she would leave her post as a part-time lecturer at Columbia Law School following protests from Columbia’s Black Law Students Association.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialWell, what about the jurors who convicted the five teens? What about the late Thomas Galligan, the judge who sentenced them? Or Fairstein’s boss Robert Morgenthau, who was the DA at the time of the teens’ prosecution and who is now approaching the age of 100. Maybe the city’s Public Advocate will call for disbarring him as well.

And why is virtually no one publicly defending Fairstein, who for 25 years headed the DA’s Sex Crimes unit, the first of its kind in the country? Where are the feminists? Where is the Me-Too crowd, who are surely aware of Fairstein’s pioneering role in prosecuting sex-crime offenses?

We are now going through a period of racial reckoning. But do Fairstein’s accusers actually believe they can undo black America’s 300 years of miseries by scapegoating her?

One of the few to defend Fairstein is the veteran criminal attorney Murray Richman. Of DuVernay’s “When They See Us”, he says: “It is a docudrama … a story that claimed to be more or less true with added facts for dramatic purpose. When you add to the truth, you diminish it. Once you have added to it, it is no longer the truth.”

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Copyright © 2019 Leonard Levitt