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Central Park 5: Tentative $40 million settlement approved for wrongly convicted men

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NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City comptroller said Thursday that he has approved a tentative $40 million settlement with the five men wrongly convicted in the 1989 Central Park jogger attack.

The settlement, which requires federal court approval, has not yet been filed with the judge presiding over the civil case brought by the men.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said Thursday that the settlement "closes a very difficult chapter" in the city's history.

Attorney Michael Warren said the plaintiffs were "very relieved" at Stringer's approval, a "step in ultimately allowing these young men to move on with their lives." He said the lawyers planned a news conference Friday in front of City Hall.

The five black and Hispanic defendants were found guilty as teenagers in the attack on a white woman - an investment banker - who had gone for a run in the park.

They 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 sued police and prosecutors for $250 million.

The attack occurred as the city approached its peak in murders and reports that the rape occurred as youths were roaming the park gave rise to the term "wilding" for urban mayhem by marauding teenagers.

The victim, Trisha Meili, then 28, was found in the brush, more than 75 percent of her blood drained from her body and her skull smashed. She was in a coma for 12 days, suffered permanent damage and remembers nothing about the attack.

In 2002, a re-examination of the case found that DNA on the victim's sock pointed to Matias Reyes, a murderer and serial rapist who confessed that he alone attacked the jogger.

The AP does not usually identify victims of sexual assault, but Meili went public as a motivational speaker and wrote a book.

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