NEW YORK (AP) — “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay says she hasn’t been in touch with friend Linda Fairstein since the former “Central Park Five” prosecutor was dropped by her publisher, though the actress acknowledged Fairstein resigned from the board of a charity she founded.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hargitay said, “No, I have not talked to her. She did resign from my board.” Fairstein was on the board of Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation, which assists survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
In an op-ed last week in The Wall Street Journal, Fairstein condemned how she is portrayed in the Netflix series “When They See Us.” Directed by Ava DuVernay, it tells of the wrongful conviction of five black and Latino teenagers for the 1989 assault on a white female jogger in Central Park. Fairstein, who headed Manhattan’s sex crimes unit at the time, has long been criticized for her role in the suspects’ interrogation in the racially divisive case.
The teens said their confessions were coerced and their convictions were overturned in 2002 after convicted murderer and serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to committing the crime alone, and his DNA was linked to it.
Fairstein would go on to become a best-selling author of mystery novels.
Fallout from the Netflix show has led to her being dropped by her book publisher, Dutton. Fairstein also resigned as a Board of Trustees member at Vassar College and from the victims-services agency, Safe Horizon.
Hargitay spoke about Fairstein last Friday while promoting the documentary “Emmanuel,” about the mass shooting that killed nine black worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina four years ago. Hartigay is the co-producer of the film.
When asked about her relationship with Fairstein, Hartigay said she’s “known (Linda) for a long time” and was introduced to her by “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf.
In an op-ed for USA Today last year, Fairstein wrote that she inspired “Law and Order: SVU.”
“Twenty years ago, while I was still leading what is now known as the Special Victims Unit, I had a call from Dick Wolf, creator of the Law and Order television series. He was in pre-production of a spinoff that he called ‘Law and Order: SVU.’ He wasn’t asking me to be part of his team, but he was hoping I would spend time with two of his leading actors — Mariska Hargitay and Stephanie March — to explain our work,” Fairstein wrote. “Not only did I enjoy that opportunity, but it was the start of two friendships I cherish to this day.”
When asked if she trained with Fairstein for “Law & Order: SVU,” Hargitay said: “Not trained, I met Linda. Dick introduced me to her. I think Stephanie March did because she was playing the ADA (assistant district attorney).”
“When They See Us,” a four-episode series, debuted on Netflix late last month. Hargitay said she’s begun watching it.
“I just started it — 15 minutes in,” she said.