Added: February 4, 2017 – Last updated: February 4, 2017


Author: Thomas Palacios Beddall

Title: Saintly Victim(s), Savage Assailants

Subtitle: Race, Rape, and Media Portrayals of the Central Park Jogger Case

Thesis: Senior Thesis, Bard College

Advisor: Donna Grover

Year: 2016

Pages: 65pp.

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History | Cases: Offenders / Antron McCray, Matias Reyes, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise; Cases: Others / Central Park Jogger Case; Cases: Victims / Trisha Meili; Prosecution: False Confessions, Wrong Convictions; Representations: Press; Types: Interracial Rape


Link: Bard Digital Commons (Free Access)


Abstract: »Cases of interracial rape involving white female victims receive a response from the mainstream media that plays upon pre-existing racial stereotypes of bestial black men and pure Caucasian women. The rape and brutal beating of the Central Park jogger on April 19th 1989 exists as an instance when white fear took a firm grip over the news coverage that the attack received and defined the manner in which the accused were portrayed in the media. However unlikely it may be that a group of twelve teenagers would decide on a whim to gang-rape a women who happened to run past them in the park, the New York City tabloid media ran with this notion and published stories that presented the accused as a “savage wolf pack” who gang-raped and nearly murdered Trisha Meili for fun. My senior thesis examines the racially fueled process by which the New York Daily News crafted narratives that ultimately resulted in the wrongful incarceration of five Harlem-raised black and Hispanic adolescent males ages 14 to 16 that were imprisoned from 1990 to 2003 for a violent assault they did not commit. Eager to cover the scintillating story from the onset, the New York Daily News rapidly began printing front-page headlines that preyed on the fear expressed by white-Manhattanites who identified with the affluent jogger and felt their own safety was in jeopardy following the attack. These media crafted narratives were so effective in their manipulation of the racial unrest in Manhattan, that soon after they hit newsstands, the city was divided on lines of black and white as the arguments regarding park safety and questions regarding ‘public space’ emerged. While the tabloid media were creating their own manipulated version of the white woman's assault that took place in the park on April 19th, 1989, the lives of five black and Latino youths were left hanging in the balance.« (Source: Bard Digital Commons)


  Introduction (p. 1)
  I. Media Construction of the Young Black Man as Sexually Deviant Beast (p. 4)
  II. Media Construction of Trisha Meili as the Ideal Mainstream Victim (p. 26)
  III. Beyond Pure White Women and Bestial Black Men (p. 50)
  Conclusion (p. 60)
  Works Cited (p. 64)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of the United States / History of the United States (1980–91) | Sexual violence: Rape in the United States / Central Park jogger case