Linda Fairstein‘s book career is swirling the toilet after her publisher announced it was parting ways with the ex-prosecutor amid renewed outrage over her role in the wrongful convictions of five Black and Latino teens known as the Central Park Five.
Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, confirmed it has dropped Fairstein, 72, as a client. The former investigator has enjoyed a lucrative career as a crime novelist, penning more than 20 books since the 1990s.
“I can confirm that Linda Fairstein and Dutton have decided to terminate their relationship,” a spokeswoman for the publisher told BBC News. “We have no further comment.”
According to Variety, the decision coincides with an online petition signed by over 125,000 people demanding they cut ties, and comes on the heels of Fairstein’s abrupt resignations from two charity boards, including the New York-based victims services non-profit Safe Horizon.
Fairstein has not yet commented on the issue.
The gripping new Netflix series “When They See Us,” which dramatizes the story of five teens wrongfully convicted in the rape and assault of a female jogger in 1989, is what spurred the renewed backlash against Fairstein, who headed the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan district attorney’s office at the time. As explained in the series, Fairstein played a pivotal role in coercing the false confessions that landed the teens in jail for several years.
The Central Park Five — Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise — were exonerated in 2002 after a serial rapist confessed to the crime, a development that was backed by DNA evidence. In 2014, the men were awarded a $41 million settlement from the city of New York.
Fairstein’s downfall began last week after “When They See Us” viewers bombarded booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with calls to remove her book collection from its shelves. Calls for a boycott of Fairstein’s books also took hold on social media via the viral hashtag #CancelLindaFairstein.
“You must #CancelLindaFairstein,” one woman wrote on Twitter, tagging Penguin Books USA. “It’s not enough for her books to be boycotted, she must be dropped for her crimes against children!!!!”
That outrage strengthened amid reports that Fairstein, 72, refused to participate in the Netflix series, created by Hollywood director Ava Duvernay, because producers were also consulting with the five wrongfully convicted men.
Jane Rosenthal, a producer on the acclaimed mini-series, revealed during a weekend panel in California that her team had exchanged several emails with the ex-investigator about offering her perspective for the project.
That would never happen.
“Her point of view was clearly that she didn’t want us talking to the five men if we were talking to her,” Rosenthal told the crowd.