NEW YORK — All but closing the books on one of the most lurid crime cases in New York history, the city has agreed to a $40 million settlement with five men who were falsely convicted in the vicious 1989 rape and beating of a Central Park jogger, a city official said Friday.
The official had direct knowledge of the agreement but wasn't allowed to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. City Comptroller Scott Stringer confirmed that a settlement had been reached but would not disclose the amount except to say that the $40 million figure was "in the ballpark."
The deal still needs final approval from the comptroller and a federal judge.
The five black and Hispanic defendants were found guilty as teenagers in 1990 in the attack on a white woman — an investment banker — who had gone for a run in the park.
With New York awash in murder and drugs at the time, the crime was seen as a terrifying symbol of the city's racial and class divide and evidence that it was sliding into lawlessness. The case gave rise to the term "wilding" for urban mayhem by marauding teenagers.
The defendants served six to 13 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out in 2002 because of evidence that someone else, acting alone, committed the crime. The five brought a $250 million civil rights lawsuit against police and prosecutors.
Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement that the tentative settlement signifies "a monumental victory" for the men and their families.
"It is also a victory for those in the community that stood with them from day one and believed in their innocence in this case," Sharpton said. "As supporters, we were viciously attacked for standing with them, but we were on the right side of history."