This Day in Black History: April 19, 1989

A Central Park jogger was raped, opening a case that would wrongfully convict five Black and Latino males.

Posted: 04/19/2014 12:00 AM EDT

A Central Park jogger's brutal rape and attack left New York stunned on April 19, 1989. Trisha Meili, 28, an investment banker, was attacked while on a morning run in the park. Five teens from Harlem were charged and convicted of the crime and it highlighted racial divisions in New York City.

Meili’s near lifeless body was discovered near a marsh in Central Park, her skull had been smashed in and doctors did not think she would survive the attack. But after she spent two weeks in a coma, she shocked the nation when news of her recovery emerged. But Meili could not recall the incident or the events leading up to it.

Without a positive ID from the victim, the NYPD moved swiftly charging five males, who became known as the "Central Park Five" with the crime, four of which made videotaped confessions and implicated the fifth suspect. Although soon after they confessed, the teens claimed they were coerced by police, they were all still convicted and sentenced with prison time ranging from five to 15 years.

The truth came to light in December 2002, when their convictions were overturned when a convicted murderer and serial rapist, already behind bars, confessed to acting alone in the attack. DNA evidence later confirmed his confession.

Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, now in their 40s, filed a $250 million lawsuit against New York City. The suit was put on hold in January, but New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, has vowed to settle it while he is in office. 

Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.

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(Photo: Via PBS The Central Park Five)

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