Former Manhattan prosecutor Linda Fairstein resigned from the Vassar College Board of Trustees after facing immense backlash for her involvement in the Central Park Five case that resulted in the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of five Black and Latino teens.
According to Newsweek, college President Elizabeth Bradley sent a letter to students, alumni, and the Vassar community announcing Fairstein stepped down;
"I am told that 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," Bradley said in the letter.
Additionally, Fairstein resigned from her position on the board of Safe Horizon, a non-profit organization for victims of abuse.
In a statement to TMZ, a Safe Horizon spokesperson said:
“After careful consideration, 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. For more than 40 years, Safe Horizon’s top priority has been empowering victims and survivors.”
“We believe every victim deserves access to safety and support and will continue working toward that reality,” the statement concluded.
In the wake of Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix mini-series, When They See Us, former Manhattan District Attorney Linda Fairstein is facing new calls to step down from her place on several boards of trustees.
Fairstein’s involvement in the infamous "Central Park Five" case, which resulted in the false imprisonment of five Black and Latino teens, has also resulted in demands for her past cases to be reopened.
Currently, Fairstein sits on the board of Safe Horizon, a nonprofit organization created to assist New York City victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She also is one of 34 Board of Trustee members for Vassar College. However, after the miniseries aired both Safe Horizon and Vassar have begun reviewing her status as a board member.
According to a report from TMZ, the CEO of Safe Horizon held a meeting on May 21 with almost 100 directors of the organization. During the meeting, the CEO informed them about the miniseries, the case, and Fairstein’s involvement in the coerced confessions of the five teens.
Sources told TMZ some staffers were unaware Fairstein was on the board and when they found out, they demanded she be removed.
Many workers for Safe Horizon find her place on the board inappropriate since the organization primarily helps Black and Latino victims of abuse.
While the CEO evaluates Fairstein’s standing with the organization, several directors are considering legal action, if she remains on the board.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Vassar College is also reviewing Fairstein’s position as a board member. In a letter to students and alumni, Vassar president, Elizabeth Bradley, said the school is looking into Fairstein’s involvement in the case and her role with the school.
The letter read, "We take such concerns from students and alumnae very seriously, and understand the significant issues involved here. I have personally contacted the Chair of the Board to request that the Executive Committee review these concerns. He has agreed, and will promptly bring it to the Board's Executive Committee.”
The letter was composed after Mari Robles, an international studies junior at Vassar, created a petition on change.org calling for Fairstein's removal.
Robles wrote in the petition, "The boys she wrongfully helped imprison are our neighbors, brothers, sons. They are now men that have been robbed of a life. I am writing this petition because I was emboldened by Vassar to do so."
When it comes to Fairstein’s 30-year stint with the New York District Attorney’s office, people believe her action in the “Central Park Five” case is enough evidence for a new probe into the cases she prosecuted.
In addition, on Twitter, many political figures and activists have also asked the current DA to reopen Fairstein’s cases.
(Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images)