Oprah: That seems impossible to me. I harbor resentment—and I just read about it in the paper.
Central Park Jogger: I focused on all the positives. And I realized I had seen both the best and the worst of humanity.
Oprah: After you were raped, sodomized, beaten with a pipe, dragged, and left for dead, you can honestly say you looked at those boys in the courtroom and harbored no resentment?
Central Park Jogger: Right. Perhaps I've been able to do this because I have no memory of the attack. But I'll tell you what—I didn't feel wonderful about the boys' defense attorneys, especially the one who cross-examined me. He was right in front of my face and, in essence, calling me a slut by asking questions like "When's the last time you had sex with your boyfriend?"
Oprah: You've said your family didn't want you to testify. Why?
Central Park Jogger: They were afraid of what the experience would be like for me—they were very protective. They thought, "You can't identify these people. Why should you have to testify?"
Oprah: Since you didn't remember details of the attack, why did you want to testify?
Central Park Jogger: I felt angry about what had happened; I wanted to see justice done and wanted to participate in the process. I also know that juries like to see the plaintiff. I wanted to walk into that room on my own and say to those boys, "You can't conquer me. I'm still standing."
Oprah: Were you nervous?
Central Park Jogger: Very.
Oprah: Did you think seeing the boys would trigger your memory?
Central Park Jogger: I didn't know for sure, but I wasn't going to sit there and stare at them the whole time because that wouldn't have felt comfortable. I did look at them at first. It was a bit like going back to that place in the park—I just needed to do it. When I was standing outside the courtroom, I thought, "Everybody is going to be looking at me, trying to find something wrong, and I want to stand strong." I don't have the steadiest walk anymore, and I was nervous about that.
Oprah: How did you feel about the people who turned this into a major racial confrontation?
Central Park Jogger: I focused all my attention on my healing.
Oprah: Glory hallelujah for you!
Central Park Jogger: They had to take care of themselves, and I had to take care of me. It's not that I ignored what was happening, but I was also protected from some of it.
We Hear You!