NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for the city are seeking access to footage gathered by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns in research for his movie about the five men exonerated in the Central Park jogger rape case.
The city has issued a subpoena for the outtakes and other materials from the film “The Central Park Five,” its Law Department confirmed Wednesday.
The request is connected to a $250 million federal lawsuit filed by the men against the city nine years ago, after their sentences were vacated. They were exonerated after a man already jailed for other crimes confessed to the attack, and DNA evidence supported his claim.
In April 1989, a 28-year-old investment banker was found in the park after being beaten and raped while jogging. She was in a coma for 12 days and was left with permanent damage. In 2003, Trisha Meili disclosed her identity and published her memoir.
At the time of their arrest, the five suspects, then teens, were held for more than 24 hours before they confessed. All later recanted, and they claim the confessions were coerced. City lawyer Celeste Koeleveld has said the city stands by the decisions made by the detectives and prosecutors in bringing the case against the five men.
For years, the city has refused requests by Burns and his team to interview officials about the case, said Burns, who has said he hopes the film will help push the city to settle the case.
Attorney John Siegal, who represents Burns and others who worked on the project, argued the city won’t be able to prove the film and notes are necessary to its defense and unavailable elsewhere. The city must do so to get access to the material, he said.
Koeleveld says the city should receive access to the recordings.
“The plaintiffs’ interviews go to the heart of the case and cannot be obtained elsewhere,” Koeleveld said. “If the plaintiffs truly want an open airing of the facts, they should encourage the filmmakers not to hide anything.”
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