Steven Lopez is the rarely mentioned sixth man linked to the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park, along with five other teenagers, has been cleared of a robbery charge related to the attack.
According to New York Times reports, Lopez, along with the Central Park Five, were arrested at age 15. He reached a deal with prosecutors after his arrest and pled guilty to the lesser charge of robbing a male jogger in the park on the same night as the rape. His conviction was thrown out by a Manhattan courthouse on Monday.
The Central Park Five, the young teens who were linked to Trisha Meili’s rape, were accused of attacking the white woman jogger on the night of April 19, 1989. Prosecutors used coerced confessions to convict Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Clarence Thomas of the crime and each spent between six and 13 years in prison as juveniles.
They were exonerated years later when Matias Reyes confessed in 2002 that he was the actual attacker. Now known as The Exonerated Five sued New York City in 2003 and won a $41 million dollar settlement in 2014. Most famously, Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us spotlighted the young teens’ experiences but Lopez is not mentioned in most of the projects.
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Forensic investigators lacked physical evidence tying Lopez to the crime committed against the male jogger, who did not identify Lopez as one of his assailants. Police dropped the rape charge in a plea deal and he pled guilty to first-degree robbery, according to The Times. He was sentenced to one and a half to four and a half years in state prison. He also never received any settlement money.“We talk about the Central Park Five, the Exonerated Five, but there were six people on that indictment,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, The Guardian reported. “And the other five who were charged, their convictions were vacated. And it’s now time to have Mr. Lopez’s charge vacated.”