- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) The district attorney yesterday cited new DNA evidence when asking a judge to throw out the convictions of five young men in a racially charged case: the 1989 attack on a Central Park jogger who was raped, beaten and left for dead.
District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's recommendation came 11 months after a convicted rapist who had not been under suspicion confessed and said that he had acted alone in the crime. DNA tests backed his confession.
Mr. Morgenthau said that those tests convinced him to seek the nullification of the convictions of the men, who were said to have committed the attack as part of a gang of "wilding" youths. The evidence "creates a probability that the verdicts would have been more favorable to the defendants," he said.
The final decision on the convictions rests with state Supreme Court Justice Charles Tejada, who is expected to announce his ruling Feb. 6.
The five men, ages 14 to 16 at the time of the attack, already have completed jail terms ranging from six years to 11 years for the crime. The final defendant was released in August.
Exoneration could open the door to civil suits against the city and could free the men, now mostly in their late 20s, from having to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
The youths were also convicted of attacking several other people in the park that night, but Mr. Morgenthau said that those convictions should also be dropped. Prosecutors said that "no useful purpose" would be served by a retrial for any of the crimes.
Word that a 28-year-old white investment banker had been attacked by a gang of black and Hispanic youths turned this into one of the most racially charged cases in the city's history and also drew nationwide attention.
The victim was left for dead in a pool of mud and blood on April 19, 1989, after dozens of teenagers descended on the park to mug runners and bicyclists in a crime spree dubbed "wilding."
The randomness of the acts and their occurrence in Manhattan's bucolic oasis terrified many New Yorkers.


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