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Linda Fairstein, a former prosecutor who was portrayed in the Ava DuVernay-directed Netflix docuseries When They See Us, has formally sued both the streaming site and DuVernay.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Fairstein alleges that she and her office were defamed by the series.
“In the film series, which Defendants have marketed and promoted as a true story, Defendants depict Ms. Fairstein — using her true name — as a racist, unethical villain who is determined to jail innocent children of color at any cost,” the suit alleges.
Fairstein, who was one of the lead prosecutors in the infamous Central Park Five case, faced backlash over her handling of the case, which saw five Black teens spend time in prison for a crime that they did not commit.
“It’s a basket of lies,” she told The Daily Beast in June 2019, calling the docuseries “a totally and completely untrue picture of events and my participation,” including “putting words in my mouth that I never said in Oliver Stone fashion.”
The same month she penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal slamming the four-part series.
So it is with filmmaker Ava DuVernay in the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” a series so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication,” Fairstein wrote.
“It shouldn’t have been hard for Ms. DuVernay to discover the truth. The facts of the original case are documented in a 117-page decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Galligan, in sworn testimony given in two trials and affirmed by two appellate courts, and in sworn depositions of more than 95 witnesses—including the five themselves. Instead she has written an utterly false narrative involving an evil mastermind (me) and the falsely accused (the five),” Fairstein wrote in a blatant attempt to redirect the narrative.
Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, and Antron McCray—were wrongfully convicted for the 1989 rape of 28-year-old Trisha Meili despite there being a significant lack against them. The teens spent between six and 13 years behind bars where they were brutally beaten and raped. In 2002 Matias Reyes confessed to the rape of Mieli in 2002. Their convictions were vacated by New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada on December 19, 2002.
The suit continues, “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,” the suit states. “On a number of occasions, Ms. Fairstein is portrayed using inflammatory language, referring to young men of color as ‘thugs,’ ‘animals’ and ‘bastards,’ that she never used.”
Fairstein remains in full victim mode. We’re not sure how she’s going to prove defamation, but it’s all in the judge’s hands now.