According to published reports, Elizabeth Lederer has resigned from Columbia Law School, amid scrutiny over how she handled the 1989 rape case of a female jogger in New York.
Lederer announced her decision in a statement shared by the university, where she worked part-time as an adjunct faculty member and lecturer in law, Complex reports.
“I’ve enjoyed my years teaching at CLS, and the opportunity it has given me to interact with the many fine students who elected to take my classes,” she said in a statement. “However, given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case, it is best for me not to renew my teaching application.”
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New statement released from the @ColumbiaLaw Black Law Students Association
Students call for #CentralPark5 prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer to be fired from her Lecturer in Law position
Also call on the law school to center anti-racism in its curriculum and pedagogy pic.twitter.com/U8By81KWBB
— Barred and Boujee (@AudreLawdAMercy) June 11, 2019
Lederer, who resigned Wednesday, came under fire following the release of the Netflix series “When They See Us.” The four-part miniseries tells the story of the five male teenagers of color who were wrongly convicted of assault and rape. Following the series debut on the streaming service, Columbia students launched a petition calling for Lederer’s termination.
The Black Law Students Association at the university wrote in a letter:
“The lives of these five boys were forever changed as a result of Lederer’s conduct,” the letter read. “During the investigation, Lederer and her colleagues used harmful, racist tactics, including physical abuse and coercion, to force confessions from the five minors. The case they built was founded on false information and an overwhelming lack of physical evidence. As a result, five boys spent their formative years in prison until the charges were vacated in 2002 after the real perpetrator confessed to the crime and DNA evidence linking him to the crime was discovered.”
Meanwhile, Linda Fairstein, the former head of the Manhattan sex crimes unit, also received backlash for her involvement in the case. She was recently dropped by her book publisher and was forced to resign from Vassar College’s board of trustees as well as her positions with numerous philanthropic organizations.
The Central Park Five spent between six and 13 years in prison before DNA tests confirmed their innocence. The men were exonerated in 2002, and the city awarded them a $41-million settlement in 2014.