Her name is Trisha Meili.
April 14, 2003 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Her name is Trisha Meili. She was attacked in Central Park fourteen years ago. Now she's written a book (excerpt) telling her story.
posted by kirkaracha (12 comments total)
From the article: "The case has already had multiple, dramatic consequences: most tragically for the jogger, who nearly died"

If prison is anything like it looks on Oz, and the teens were, indeed, railroaded, I think this is probably a false statement...
posted by trharlan at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2003

Vigilante justice should really be used more often.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:25 AM on April 14, 2003

This is not the first time her name has been made public. Within days of the attack, African-American militants got hold of Trisha Meili's name, and magic-markered it all over subway stations on the A, the AA and CC lines -- adding insult to the injury of her rape. At that time, I was living on Central Park West, not 300 yards from the site of the attack (she was dragged off a pathway that I jogged several times a week). The incident itself, and the subsequent efforts of some twisted people to make it appear as if the pursuit of the perpetrators was racial persecution made me sick to my stomach, and was among the reasons I finally moved out of NYC.
posted by Faze at 8:47 AM on April 14, 2003

(Troll post...)
"White chick down! We have a white chick down!" This case threw into harsh relief the disparity of justice across races. It illustrated an ugly, exploitative period in our political culture as well, as this case and others were used by many to push biased messages of hate.

Even now, some folks are using this to further their own discussions of hate. Ann Coulter, that bastion of sensibility, spews this tripe. The left have their own spin, too, as can be seen here. A somewhat more balanced view still leaves a lot to be desired. What's interesting about the current discussion is that it's polarized now more by party than on race.

I don't ask either of the questions she fears, because I do support her struggle against the aftereffects of a horrific crime. However, the cynical bastard in me does ask - Why now? Why is her book being released now, fourteen years later, just as the case is being reviewed because of new evidence indicating that the five kids convicted for this may not have done it at all (and have spent about 14 years in prison because of it?) I seriously doubt it's her decision; from the tone of the book, she's more interested in discussing the aftereffects of the event than something she can't remember.

Here's my concern - bash away at it. We have an election in 2004. It's now 2003. We've been fighting a war that has spurred a LOT of unfocused hatred towards people that are "not us." Christian evangelists stir up anti-Islamic sentiment while Congress renames French fries in an insipid flurry of misguided patriotism - that sort of thing. My fear is that this patriotic/racial melange of issues will be used during next year's campaigning by both sides, and that her book will be an (albeit unwitting) accomplice to a travesty of dignity. And, before you get too skeptical regarding my paranoia, I have two words - Willie Horton - and a not-so-fond memory of the 1988 election of Bush.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:59 AM on April 14, 2003

Clarification: I'm not sure exactly how long they actually spent in prison; the figure is extrapolated from the "14 year" figure in the original article.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:01 AM on April 14, 2003

Even now, some folks are using this to further their own discussions of hate. Ann Coulter, that bastion of sensibility, spews this tripe. The left have their own spin, too, as can be seen here.

Politics as usual. A horrific incident occurs and the political animal of whatever subspecies, immediately wonders, "How can I turn this to my ideological advantage?"

Both the Central Park Rape case (with Sharpton and the usual crew coming out of the woodwork on one side and the New York Post and other media outlets stirring up racial tension to sell papers) and the Willie Horton case(Bush's use of him was sleazy and cynical, but the guy was a scumbag, so I can only feel so much sympathy for him.) are examples of american politics at their worst.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on April 14, 2003

The extent of the Central Park Jogger's injuries was staggering. I remember the courtroom artist's renderings on the news where her face appeared smudged out by the artist so she wouldn't be identifiable. Noone I know who lived in the NY-metro area wasn't severely horrified by that case. Adding insult to injury, the defense lawyer attempted to insinuate that the semen found on the Central Park Jogger was the result of sex with her boyfriend, rather than a rape. The whole thing was disturbing from beginning to end. The fact that I am now 28 and I have friends who are now investment bankers in Manhattan makes the situation feel less "anonymous" now, too.

One of the lesser known stories involved in the racial tension surrounding the Central Park Jogger case was that the very same night she was attacked, a black woman was raped and then murdered when she was thrown off of the roof of a Brooklyn housing project. Why didn't this spark Congressional hearings and a national outcry? Was it because America didn't care about black-on-black sex crimes?

There was an episode of Law & Order that made light of this, actually. After a body of a woman raped and murdered is found, while the detectives are investigating the crime scene, the lieutenant shows up on the scene, which she normally never does. They ask her what she's doing there and she replies, "A white woman gets murdered and raped in Central Park; it happens once a year, and it's always the crime of the century."
posted by deanc at 9:44 AM on April 14, 2003

Behold yet another example of the synthesis of victim and hero.
posted by pjdoland at 10:36 AM on April 14, 2003

Thanks, Faze, for an interesting bit of information. Do you have a link to that anywhere? I'm kind of not surprised it didn't get reported much.

The cool response to Meili's book doesn't surprise me either. Despite the continued insistence that the media give rape victims special treatment by allowing them to remain anonymous, the ones that do come forward often get this kind of reaction. When those kidnapped California teenagers went on a talk show, the cries of media sensationalism went up from all the usual corners. Some alternative-weekly writer (there's a thread here somewhere) even wrote a "satire" comparing their brave act to a trashy reality show. Had they been the victims of a racial- or religious-motivated attack, the media watchdogs would never have dared to draw such a comparison.

Why did the Central Park jogger case get so much publicity? The main reason was clearly the term "wilding" (although now we know that it probably didn't come from a legitimate confession). It summed up in a single word the fear that teenagers were becoming amoral. For every nationally reported crime story, there's usually a very similar one that never made it past the local news. It's not a conspiracy.

Between this and the open disdain Martha Burk's Augusta protests got from everywhere except the Times, I'm now convinced that the left has pretty much dropped all pretense of supporting feminism.
posted by transona5 at 11:56 AM on April 14, 2003

Transona5 -- The graffiti campaign to expose the victim's name was something I, and no doubt thousands of other New Yorkers, saw first hand commuting to work every day. The name was written in very large letters in thick magic marker on the subway walls and over the advertising posters in subway stations. The words were something like "RAPE VICTIM REAL NAME: TRISHA MEILI". The campaign was reported in the media at the time, with the Daily News being one source that I recall at the moment.
posted by Faze at 2:07 PM on April 14, 2003

I'd never heard that before about her real name being scrawled all over the place. That's sickening.
posted by Vidiot at 6:57 PM on April 14, 2003

There's actually a fairly good case to be made for naming rape victims, which says the cloak of anonymity perpetuates the shame of the crime by making it "different" somehow. Geneva Overholser wrote about this when she was editor of the Des Moines Register, and a local rape victim came forward and told her story on the record. The piece won a Pulitzer.

In this case, I think the anonymity went on far too long. While I don't condone what the graffiti people did, it turns out they had a point about the railroading of the original defendants.
posted by nance at 9:55 AM on April 15, 2003

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