ABC News(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump — who almost three decades ago made a veiled call for the execution of the now-exonerated suspects in the Central Park jogger case — waded back into the fray of the 27-year-old crime, reiterating his suggestion the men were “guilty” and calling a settlement reached with the city “outrageous.”
In the case, five male teens were accused of brutally attacking a white woman in Central Park in April 1989.
“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump said of the so-called “Central Park Five” in a statement to CNN.
“The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”
All five of the accused made various confessions, which later came under review, and were convicted on differing combinations of charges -— including rape, robbery, attempted murder, assault and riot —- and served time.
In 2002, the suspects were exonerated after an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the New York Times said. Another man confessed to the crime and according to the Times, his DNA conclusively linked him to the victim.
This is not the first time that Trump has involved himself in the case.
Weeks after the attack, which at first put the 28-year-old white victim in a coma, Trump wrote an open letter calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty.
The letter, published in ads in four area papers -— the New York Times, the Daily News, the New York Post and New York Newsday -— was signed by Trump. While he did not specifically cite the case, the timing of the ad’s publication amid a city in uproar made it clear what he was referencing.
“I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes,” the ad reads.
His most recent statement is not the only time he has cast doubt on the innocence of the exonerated men. In 2014, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Daily News calling the city’s settlement of the case “a disgrace” and said that “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”
In 2014, The New York Times reported that New York City’s Law Department reached a settlement with the five men for about $40 million. The terms were confidential.
Yusef Salaam is one of the exonerated five. He told ABC News that Trump’s ad was “the nail in the coffin” for their case, and noted that he has not yet received an apology from Trump.
“Even if he apologizes, I will accept it but I would also have to look at him in a strange way and wonder if its a political move,” Salaam told ABC News in September.
“I think that he is blind to his own racism and I think that that’s unfortunately true of a lot of folks.
“I think he’s changed but I don’t think that was a change for the better; it was a change for the worse,” Salaam said of Trump.
“Had Donald Trump had his way … we would have been dead.”
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