'Central Park 5' prosecutor quits Columbia Law School amid Netflix outcry


Elizabeth Lederer, who taught at the school and still works for the Manhattan district attorney's office, told law school Dean Gillian Lester on Wednesday that she enjoyed her years at Columbia but has decided not to renew her teaching application due to the publicity generated by Netflix's portrayal of the case.

The Ava DuVernay-directed limited true crime series follows the case of five Black and Latino children who were wrongfully convicted of assaulting and raping a jogger in NY.

Per the New York Times, an email sent to Columbia Law students on Wednesday evening said Lederer had chose to resign as lecturer "given the nature of the recent publicity generated by the Netflix portrayal of the Central Park case." .

According to a letter sent by Dean Gillian Lester to students on Wednesday and obtained by PEOPLE, Lederer told Lester that she had made a decision 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.

Lederer's resignation comes after Columbia's Black Law Students Association released a statement condemning the "harmful, racist tactics" she helped use to convict the five minors.

The group expressed concern over Lederer's portrayed role in the drama When They See Us, which depicts Manhattan prosecutors targeting five black teens for the rape and assault of a white woman who'd been jogging in the park.

The BLSA's statement argued that in addition to Lederer's removal, the Law School should address the racism inherent in legal pedagogy through a re-evaluation of existing teaching and hiring practices.

Controversy over the conviction of the men has been reignited after the release of a fictionalized version of the events, called "When They See Us", airing on Netflix. "As a result, five boys spent their formative years in prison until the charges were vacated in 2002 after the real perpetrator confessed to the crime and DNA evidence linking him to the crime was discovered".

'I am deeply committed to fostering a learning environment that furthers this important and ongoing dialogue, one that draws upon the lived experiences of all members of our community and actively confronts the most hard issues of our time'.

They claim thousands of Columbia students have signed petitions demanding the firing of Lederer.

Lederer is played by Vera Farmiga in the four-part Netflix original series.

Fairstein's book publisher dropped her last week and she resigned from multiple nonprofit boards in the wake of the series' release.