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Central Park Five Figure Sues Netflix Over Series

Linda Fairstein says 'When They See Us' distorts reality to depict her as a villain
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2020 8:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – A former New York City prosecutor who played a role in the infamous Central Park Five case is suing Netflix and director Ava DuVernay over her portrayal in a movie, reports Variety. Linda Fairstein says When They See Us falsely depicts her as a "racist, unethical villain" for her role in the wrongful rape conviction of five teenagers in the 1990s. As she has asserted previously, Fairstein says DuVernay and co-writer Attica Locke (also sued) got things flat-out wrong. "Throughout the film series, Ms. Fairstein is portrayed as making statements that she never said, taking actions that she did not take—many of them racist and unethical, if not unlawful—in places that she never was on the days and times depicted," according to the suit.

One of the worst offenses is that the film depicts Fairstein as leading both the investigation and prosecution of the teenagers, and neither is true, per the suit. Fairstein did not prosecute the case, though she was head of the Manhattan DA's sex crimes unit at the time, notes NBC News. Netflix called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said it would "vigorously defend" the series and its creators. Fairstein, who went on to become a crime novelist, is asking for $75,000, saying her reputation has been damaged. This isn't the first lawsuit against the movie: The creators of an interrogation technique featured in When They See Us sued last year. (President Trump was ensnared in the controversy, too.)

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