Elizabeth Lederer, one of the prosecutors in the 1989 “Central Park Five” trial that resulted in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers, has resigned from her post at Columbia Law School.
According to a letter sent by Dean Gillian Lester to students on Wednesday and obtained by PEOPLE, Lederer told Lester that she had decided to not renew her teaching application for the next year due to the public backlash from the recently released Netflix series When They See Us.
The series, directed by Ava DuVernay, details the wrongful conviction of the teens, who were accused of brutally raping jogger Trisha Meili in Central Park.
“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,” Lederer said, according to Lester. “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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Prior to her resignation, the Columbia Black Law Students Association had released a letter criticizing the university’s “inaction” in addressing her connection to the “Central Park Five” case.
Lederer’s resignation is the latest fallout from the Netflix series, which has reignited public discussion and backlash against the prosecutors involved in the trial.
Linda Fairstein, another prosecutor in the case, has reportedly resigned from the board of Vassar College, as well as from the boards of Joyful Heart Foundation and God’s Love We Deliver.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Fairstein claimed that DuVernay’s four-part scripted series is “so full of distortions and falsehoods as to be an outright fabrication.”
The “Central Park Five” were convicted and sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison for the attack on Meili. However, they claimed they had been forced to confess under duress and said the investigators had deprived them of food, water and sleep.
Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after a convicted rapist named Matias Reyes confessed to Meili’s April 1989 rape. DNA evidence confirmed Reyes’ connection to the crime.