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Ava DuVernay working on Netflix series about Central Park Five

UPI News Service, 07/13/2017 

Ava DuVernay has written and will direct a five-episode drama about the five young men wrongfully convicted of savagely raping and beating a jogger in New York's Central Park in 1989.

Set to debut in 2019, the narrative series will be executive produced by DuVernay, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh from Tribeca Productions.

"I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on 13th and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there," DuVernay said in a statement Thursday.

"The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn -- from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States."

"This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time and Ava's passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series," added Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix.

"After powerfully re-framing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in 13th, Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system."

"It's an honor to be partnering again with Ava, a uniquely tenacious and inspiring artist. The events of this shocking story continue to resonate today, and the way Ava has chosen to focus intimately on the five young men foregrounds the human costs of this kind of tragedy. We are looking forward to working with Netflix, Tribeca and Harpo on Participant's first, scripted, episodic series," Participant Media's Jonathan King remarked.

The five men reached a settlement with New York City for $40 million as compensation for their undeserved imprisonment in 2014.

Police originally alleged that the five men were part of a larger gang roaming Central Park, looking for potential victims when they crossed paths with investment banker Trisha Meili, whom they viciously beat and sexually assaulted.

Three of the men admitted they were in Central Park on the night in question with a group of teenagers responsible for at least one assault, but all have maintained they had nothing to do with the attack on Meili.

The victim -- who had been stabbed several times as well -- was in a coma for 12 days after the attack and had no recollection of any details of the incident.

In 2002, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed he was the one who assaulted Meili.

DNA testing and other evidence confirmed Reyes' claim, prompting then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to file a motion to vacate the other men's convictions.

DuVernay is best known for helming the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Selma" as well as last year's Oscar contending documentary "13th," which was an examination of the U.S. prison system.

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