Trump, get your facts right on Central Park jogger case

By Paul Callan | 10/12/2016, 10:53 a.m.
If Donald Trump really believes in his law and order campaign theme, he had better get his facts straight on ...
Donald Trump and the Central Park 5 CNN photo

Editor's note: Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst and former New York homicide prosecutor. He represented two Manhattan assistant district attorneys who were appointed by then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to conduct the reinvestigation of the Central Park jogger case. They were subpoenaed as nonparty witnesses in the Central Park jogger civil lawsuit. Follow him @paulcallan. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN) -- If Donald Trump really believes in his law and order campaign theme, he had better get his facts straight on the Central Park jogger case. Last week, the Republican presidential candidate repeated his bogus assertion that the dismissal of the charges against the five black and Hispanic youths (the so-called Central Park Five) who were convicted of the crime was "outrageous," as was the settlement of their civil lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment.

Amazingly, Trump's statement omits any mention of the actual rapist in the case, Matias Reyes, who was not just a convicted murderer and rapist, but a true demon of unspeakable cruelty. It's time Trump made the acquaintance of the man who actually raped the "Central Park jogger" before he further defames the men who were wrongfully imprisoned for years for a crime they did not commit.

It is perhaps a blessing that Trisha Meili, who has publicly identified herself as the rape victim in the Central Park jogger case, had no memory of the attack when she finally awoke from a coma after her nightmarish run on that fateful night in 1989. If she did, she might remember looking into the eyes of pure evil in the form of Reyes, an 18-year-old murderer and rapist who often used a knife to subdue his victims. These rapes were, according to some of his victims, followed by a grim choice for his prey: "Your eyes or your life." Most women opted for life as Reyes began stabbing at their eyes.

The "to be blinded or stabbed to death" option wasn't always the only choice offered by Reyes. He developed an even more insidious choice in the case of Lourdes Gonzalez, a 24-year-old pregnant mother who had the misfortune of crossing his path. While her three small children listened through a bedroom door of their basement apartment, their pregnant mother was sexually assaulted and stabbed multiple times. When it was finally over, the young mother had traded her own life for those of her children. This was the crime that finally ended Reyes' rampage of rape, murder and carnage in New York.

Reyes' semen and DNA were identified on clothing, Meili and at the remote Central Park jogger crime scene. There was no DNA or semen linking the Central Park Five youths who had been rounded up by New York cops as the "usual suspects" for questioning because they lived in proximity to the northern part of the park. No DNA or semen were ever linked to any of these young men because, notwithstanding Trump's past and current pronouncements, none of them was ever present at the scene. Reyes not only confessed to the crime, but years later led law enforcement investigators to the overgrown and remote crime scene.