In 1989, Trump paid $85,000 for an ad pushing death penalty for 14 year old boy who was later exonerated of the crime.

Raymond Santana was 14 years old in 1989 when he and four others were wrongfully accused of raping the Central Park jogger. Days after the crime, Donald Trump spent $85,000. on ads in four New York newspapers calling for the death penalty for the five. The ads ran in New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and New York Newsday, while the jogger was still in the hospital in a coma.

In the ads, which have the banner headline "Bring Back the Death Penalty," Trump wrote, "They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence."
The youths were convicted at trial and sent to prison, but 13 years later, DNA evidence confirmed they were not the attackers. The person whose DNA did match later confessed. Santana is outraged that Trump, to this day, refuses to apologize. [More...]

He says Trump's call for the "death penalty" helped fuel the media firestorm before the suspects even went to trial.

"It says a lot about his character. If he can give the death penalty to 14-year-old, 15-year-old kids then there's nothing he would not do. Those are characteristics of a tyrant, not characteristics of a president," Santana said.

All five are now suing New York for malicious prosecution.

According to the New York Times (October 23, 2002), Trump rejected requests to apologize, when the evidence came to light someone else committed the rape:

No," Mr. Trump said yesterday. "They confessed. Now they say they didn't do it. Who am I supposed to believe?"

Trump's ads are widely believed to have poisoned the potential jury pool. As Michael Warren, one of teen's lawyers told the Times:

"It was outrageous," Mr. Warren said, "the manner that Mr. Trump used to engage in his own personal form of rhetoric. A lot of people felt it colored the eyes of prospective jurors who ultimately sat on the case. Now it's even more appalling, with new evidence that points exclusively to another person. I think Donald Trump at the very least owes a real apology to this community and to the young men and their families.

No physical evidence linked any of the five youths to the crime. Only only one person's semen was recovered and DNA has proven it was that of Mattias Reyes, a serial rapist serving 33 years for murder and rapes, who finally confessed 13 years later. The exonerated teens' confessions were coerced. In addition, the prosecutors misstated the evidence at trial.

The wrongfully convicted teens provided this account of the effect of the wrongful convictions in November, 2002. Their families revealed what it was like for them.

Their convictions were reversed in December, 2002. You can read summaries here and in this article, A Journey Through the Tangled Case of the Central Park Jogger: When Justice Is a Game.

Trump's ads were met with condemnation at the time. He defended them ("Deadly Donald", United Press International, April 30, 1989:)

''How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits?'' Trump says in the ad. ''Criminals must be told that their civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!'' 

In a telephone interview, Trump expanded by saying, ''The criminal is being protected and the victim is getting zero protection. How does she (the jogger) have civil liberties lying in hospital, close to death and these criminals are already chanting 'police brutality?' It's absolutely disgraceful, disgraceful.'' 


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