The four-part series, which debuted on Netflix
on May 31, is about the 1989 case of a 28-year-old woman who was
attacked while jogging in New York City's Central Park. The
victim was white and the five defendants - all black or Hispanic
boys - were between the ages of 14 and 16 at the time of the
Former prosecutor Linda Fairstein sued in the U.S. District
Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging the series
shows her as the "mastermind behind a racist plot" to obtain
convictions at any cost.
The depictions of Fairstein in these scenes "are complete
fabrications and readily contradicted by evidence in the public
record," the lawsuit alleges.
Fairstein, now a crime novelist, is seeking damages from Netflix,
series director Ava DuVernay and writer Attica Locke, saying the
portrayal damaged her personal and professional reputations.
“Linda Fairstein’s frivolous lawsuit is without merit. We intend
to vigorously defend 'When They See Us' and Ava DuVernay and
Attica Locke, the incredible team behind the series," said a
Netflix spokesperson in an email to Reuters.
DuVernay and Locke could not be immediately reached for comment.
In the 1989 case, the five boys confessed after long police
interrogations and were imprisoned for five to 13 years.
They later recanted their statements and said they had been
coerced by police officers. Their convictions were overturned in
2002, after another man confessed to the crime and DNA tests
confirmed his guilt.
(Reporting by Helen Coster and Jessica DiNapoli in New York;
Editing by Himani Sarkar and David Gregorio)
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