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Crime News

Did Bobby McCray Really Convince His Son Antron To Lie In The Central Park Jogger Case?

Antron McCray was one of five teens who were convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989 after falsely confessing.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Prosecutor Linda Fairstein and the Central Park Five

In April of 1989, five teenage boys from New York became embroiled in one of the most controversial cases of the decade.

Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson became known as the Central Park Five after they were accused of raping and nearly beating to death a female jogger later identified as Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old banker who was left in a coma for nearly two weeks following the brutal attack.

Though the boys all confessed to taking part in Meili’s rape, they later said that those confessions were coerced by police and made under intense questioning. In the case of one of the boys, Antron McCray, his own parents directed him to own up to the crime, a life-changing decision that they quickly came to regret.

Bobby McCray, Antron McCray’s father, testified in 1990 that he instructed his 16-year-old son to confess, even though he knew that he was innocent, because he thought doing so meant that the police would let him go.

Antron McCray, pictured here at a 2019 movie premiere

“[The police] told him to tell them what they wanted to know, to cooperate and maybe become a witness, then he could go home,” McCray said, according to the New York Times. “If he didn't, he was going to jail.”

McCray said that his son initially denied having anything to do with the rape, but he eventually instructed Antron “to tell these people what they want to hear, even though I knew he wasn't there.”

He admitted to “trying to get [his] son to lie” and “go along with them,” so that the boy wouldn’t go to jail, he said. He claimed that police “promised” that the younger McCray could go home if he complied.

Antron's mother Linda McCray told a similar story on the stand, and said that she agreed to have her son falsely confess because “all [she] wanted was to have [her] child home” and because she, too, “believed what the police said” about letting him go, according to the outlet.

Amid intense questioning, McCray continued to stand by her son, reportedly telling prosecutors, “I know my child.”

“I know he would never do anything like that,” she continued. “I didn't know what was going on. I was screaming and crying all the time.”

All five of the boys were ultimately convicted in the case and were sentenced to between five and 15 years behind bars, ABC News reports.

More than ten years later, however, all of them had their convictions vacated in 2002 after a convicted rapist and murderer, Matias Reyes, confessed to beating and raping Meili that night, with investigators subsequently linking his DNA to the crime scene. The Central Park Five had served between six and 13 years in prison by then.

To this day, McCray has not reconciled with his father, whom he called a “coward” during an interview with CBS News earlier this month.

He recalled his father’s fateful decision, describing how he initially kept telling the truth until his father left the room to speak to police privately and then came back “changed.”

“Cursing, yelling at me,” he said. “And he said, ‘Tell these people what they wanna hear so you go home.’ I'm like, ‘Dad, but I didn't do anything.’”

“The police is yelling at me. My father yelling at me,” he continued. “And [I’m] just like, ‘All right. I did it.’ And I looked up to my father. He is my hero. But he gave up on me. You know, I was telling the truth and he just told me to lie.”

McCray’s story, as well as the rest of the men who make up the Central Park Five, is covered in Netflix’s latest crime-related release, “When They See Us,” a four-part series directed by Ava DuVernay that launched on the streaming service Friday.

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