SITE:  http://www.centralparkjogger.org/



The Central Park Jogger has decided to tell all in a book she's writing for Scribner. The woman, an investment banker who 13 years ago was attacked and left for dead by a gang of teens as she jogged through the Manhattan park, has never revealed her identity. She is being paid a mid-six-figure sum for world rights to "I Am the Central Park Jogger." The author's name will be released with the book.


Patricia Meili




Central Park Jogger comes out of the shadows
By Nicholas Wapshott


TRISHA MEILI, 42, a blonde former investment banker with Salomon Brothers, still bears a scar across her left cheek inflicted when she was attacked as she ran through Central Park 14 years ago.

The assault — known as the “Central Park Jogger” case — came to represent the dangers of living in Central Manhattan in the 1980s. It was particularly savage and viewed as racially motivated: she was a white middle-class woman whose attackers were claimed to be all black or Hispanic.

Her identity, which has been kept secret, is revealed in her new autobiography.

Ms Meili remembers little of the night of April 19, 1989, when she was dragged into a copse, bound, gagged, beaten across the head and raped.

When she was discovered the next morning, her skull was fractured and she had lost three quarters of her blood. She spent 12 days in a coma and has a permanent limp. She is unable to think as quickly as she once did “I was bruised on every part of my body except for the soles of my feet,” she writes in I am the Central Park Jogger: A story of hope and possibility.

Ms Meili, a Wellesley College and Yale graduate who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, recovered from her horrific experience by completing the New York Marathon in 1995 and returning to the ravine in Central Park where she had been left to die. “I had reclaimed my park,” she writes.

The following year she married Jim Schwarz, a sales consultant she met on a blind date set up by a friend.

After returning to work for Salomon’s until 1996, she took a job at a charity for those who are evicted. She now devotes herself to the Bridge Foundation, helping victims who have suffered from violent traumas and sustained brain injuries.

“I have the capacity to be generous and to love,” she writes. “Rather than take away those attributes, the attack allowed me to find them in myself. For that I am grateful.”

She is giving some of the book’s profits to three charities who helped her rehabilitation.

Ms Meili says that she used to suffer from a compulsive disorder that made her anorexic from the age of 15 and drove her to run seven miles a night. Her need to exercise led her to run through Central Park, even though she was aware that she was risking her life.

“I don’t blame myself for making (the decision), though I never ever imagined that the run would have the result it did,” she writes. “I understand why I was out there.”

Although her brain injuries ensured that all memories of the night were excised, she appeared at the two trials of five young black and Hispanic men who were found guilty of raping and assaulting her and sentenced to between eight months and 13years in prison.

She says that her attitude was: “If you tried to put me down, you are not getting away with it.”

She recovered mentally by purging her mind of thoughts of retribution against her attackers. She writes that she had “no desire for vengeance” against them: “I have learnt that healing is as much a function of the heart as it is of medicine.”

She was aware at the trial, however, that there was no link between genetic evidence found on her and the five men who were found guilty. They were exonerated last December when Matias Reyes, 31, a convicted killer, confessed to the crime. His DNA proved that he had raped her.

The conviction forced Ms Meili to relive her ordeal. She was “too stunned to respond,” she writes. “I was living the horror as I had not lived it before, since I had been beaten into a coma the first time around. “Reyes became real to me in a way the five had not. I didn’t want to see him in the papers or hear him talk on the television. He had murdered a woman and raped more, forcing some at knifepoint to make a choice: ‘Your eyes or your life.’ How the hell did I survive?”

The men’s release and the length of their prison terms troubled her. “What if the wrong people had gone to jail?” she asks. They are suing the New York Police Department for wrongful arrest and imprisonment.

Ms Meili is left puzzled about exactly what happened. “Part of my being at peace with the events of April 19, 1989, however, is accepting that I will never know,” she writes.


Central Park jogger reveals identity in book

Associated Press

March 28, 2003  |  NEW YORK -- The woman at the center of the Central Park jogger case is breaking her 14-year silence and revealing her identity, and she says the reopening of the case in the past year made her live the horror as never before.

Trisha Meili, 42, is coming out of anonymity at the same time her book, entitled "I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility" is being released, the Daily News reported Friday after obtaining an audio version of the book.

The book, being published in print form next month by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is a memoir of her ordeal and her recovery. In it, she recounts the trial of the five teenagers who were originally convicted in the case, and her reaction when another man said last year he was the culprit.


Patricia Meili in 1978


"I was living the horror as I had not lived it before, since I had been beaten into a coma the first time around," she wrote.

Meili, an investment banker with dual master's degrees from Yale, was attacked and raped on April 19, 1989, while jogging in Central Park. Then 28, she suffered brain damage, lost three-fourths of her blood and spent two weeks in a coma. She has no memory of the attack.

Five teenagers, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Kharey Wise and Kevin Richardson, were arraigned after four of them made incriminating videotaped statements to police. Genetic evidence found on Meili later failed to connect the attack with the youths, but they were eventually convicted and served up to 13 years in prison.

Last year, however, Matias Reyes, a man serving time for murder and serial rape, claimed that he was the attacker, and DNA evidence linked him to the crime. The five men's convictions were thrown out at the district attorney's request.

The police department said it was possible both Reyes and the teens attacked the jogger, but the prosecutor's office said there was "substantial reason" to believe Reyes' claim that he acted alone.

Meili wrote that upon learning Reyes had come forward, she was "too stunned to respond."

"Reyes became real to me in a way the five had not," she wrote. "I didn't want to see him in the papers or hear him talk on the television."

Referring to other crimes which Reyes had been convicted of, she wrote, "He had murdered a woman and raped more, forcing some at knifepoint to make a choice: 'Your eyes or your life.' How the hell did I survive?"

Still, she said, the lingering conflict about who was responsible "makes me feel helpless, not as a victim, but as someone who wants to contribute to the truth." She said she needed to accept that she may never know.

Now married and living in a Connecticut suburb, she has left investment banking and hopes to devote herself to helping others overcome trauma. The book, she says, is part of that effort.

Doctors have called Meili's resilience and recovery miraculous. She returned to work eight months after her attack and ran in the New York City Marathon in 1995. She said however that she's still sometimes unsteady on her feet and not as quick-witted as before the attack.







December 16, 2002, 10:40 a.m.
Certainties and Unlikelihoods
The Central Park Jogger, 2002.

By Mark Goldblatt

The Central Park Five are guilty, in the same way O.J. was guilty, in the same way Mumia Abu Jamal was guilty, in the same way Geronimo Pratt was guilty . . . and if you want to understand the racial divide in America, understand this: A segment of the black community, reading these words, will be thinking, Damn straight, they were all framed by racist cops!

So let's start with what's known.

On the night of April 19, 1989, just after 9 o'clock, it is certain, absolutely certain, that Kevin Richardson, 14, Raymond Santana, 14, Yusef Salaam, 15, Antron McCray, 15, and Kharey Wise, 16, ran amok for a half hour across a quarter-mile stretch of Central Park — chasing after bicyclists, assaulting pedestrians, and (in two separate incidents) pummeling two men into unconsciousness with a metal pipe, stones, punches, and kicks to the head. The teens later confessed on videotape to these attacks — which they couldn't have known about unless they had participated. As recently as this year, Richardson and Santana again acknowledged their roles in these crimes.

It is certain that within that same half-hour, in that same quarter-mile stretch, a woman later known as the Central Park Jogger was struck over the head with a metal pipe or tree branch, stomped, kicked and cut up, and dragged 225 feet across the grass to a ravine — where she was raped and left for dead. (She was actually pronounced dead four hours later, her skull fractured and two-thirds of her blood puddling on the ground.) It's now also certain that Matias Reyes, 19, was present at the scene; Reyes, currently imprisoned for serial rape and murder, has recently confessed to the crime, and his semen has been identified on the jogger's sock.

It is certain that cops, responding to reports of multiple assaults, picked up the five teens — who had split up following their adventures — and that the teens began to implicate one another immediately. At 10:30, riding in a squad car, Richardson blurted out: "Antron did it." The cops didn't know what he was talking about because the jogger's body had not yet been found. When they asked Richardson what he meant, he replied, "The murder." Meanwhile, in another squad car, when a cop scolded Santana that he ought to be at home with his girlfriend rather than in the park terrorizing people, Santana snickered, "I already had mine." Afterwards, in their holding cells, the teens launched into a raucous rendition of Tone Loc's sexually charged hip-hop anthem, "Wild Thing." It was this phrase, misheard by a police reporter as "wilding," which is the genesis of the now-infamous verb.

It is certain, absolutely certain, that the teens confessed to taking part in the rape — they were able to locate the attack and describe the jogger's outfit. Four of their confessions were videotaped, and three confessed with adult relatives present. Each teen sought to minimize his own role: Richardson said he only grabbed the jogger; Santana said he only groped her; Wise said he only "played with" her leg; McCray said he kicked and straddled her but didn't penetrate her; Salaam — whose confession was not videotaped — admitted he struck her in the head with a pipe. The teens differed as to who instigated the attack and who caused the most injuries. These are the prime inconsistencies cited last week by Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau in his recommendation to clear the teens — now grown men who have served their sentences — of all charges.

If the foregoing is absolutely certain, logical questions still remain: The jogger's rape falls smack in the middle of the timeline for the other assaults; it's doubtful the teens would have had sufficient time to gang-rape her, collect themselves, and continue on their violent rampage. Also, no forensic evidence has ever linked them to the rape scene — though Richardson did turn up with grass stains on his underwear. Reyes, moreover, now claims he acted alone, which was his modus operandi in other rapes.

The truth of what happened, as Mayor Bloomberg has conceded, may never be fully known. Perhaps the likeliest scenario is that the teens accosted the jogger, cracked her skull with the pipe, stomped and kicked her, and flung stones at her as she writhed on the ground — if you want an image here, think of Reginald Denny being dragged from his truck and beaten during the Los Angeles riots, except with no good Samaritans around to intercede. After the jogger had stopped moving, the teens likely stripped her and copped their feels, with one or two doing more with her lifeless body, before the group moved on to terrorize other passers-by . . . or maybe they were startled away by Reyes, who heard the commotion, came to have a look, found the unconscious jogger, dragged her down the ravine, and raped her.

Whatever the specifics, the fact that many in the black community now view the Central Park Five as martyrs to a racist legal system, rather than as a source of lasting shame, is a cultural indictment that goes beyond the time served by five lowlife teens.

— Mark Goldblatt's novel Africa Speaks, a satire of black hip-hop culture, has just been issued in paperback.



The Central Park Jogger steps forward


After 14 years, woman at center of famous case reveals identity


April 6 —  On the evening of April 19, 1989, a young woman, out for her run in New York’s Central Park, was bludgeoned, raped, sodomized and beaten so savagely that doctors despaired for her life and a horrified nation cried out in pain and outrage. We’ve heard so much about the crime, yet know so little about the victim — a word, incidentally, she refuses to use. For the first time, in an exclusive interview with NBC’s Katie Couric, you’ll learn the name, see the face, and witness the indomitable spirit of the Central Park Jogger.


     SHE LIKED TO listen to music when she ran. Billy Joel, especially, would help her keep pace. An investment banker, she ran to release the stress of 12-hour days on Wall Street. She ran to maintain the slender, muscular physique of a former ballerina. And she ran, five nights a week, because despite the danger, she says, there was something appealing about jogging after dark.
       In her memoir, written after 14 years of silence, The Central Park Jogger describes just how peaceful it could be.
       “I remember running by myself, relishing the solitude and a feeling of ownership — it was my park,” she says. “I belonged in the city spread out before me — it was my city. I had conquered challenges at work and made my body strong. I could run and run and nothing and no one could harm me.”
       Until the night of April 19, 1989.

       She could not have known, as she cut across a shadowy path, that dozens of teenage boys would set off on a wild rampage in the name of fun. She could not have known some would confess and go to prison for a crime for which they would insist they did not commit. She could not have predicted on this night a serial rapist would strike again, and hide his secret for more than a decade. Nor could she have imagined the incredible forces that would restore her life in the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, even years, after that night, when at the age of 28, she was left for dead.
       “We made an appointment for me to come by that night at 10 p.m. for me to see her stereo,” says friend and colleague Pat Garrett. “Went to her apartment. Rang the doorbell and there was no answer. Rang the doorbell again and there was no answer. And so I called her from the payphone. No answer, I left kind of a silly message about her standing me up. And then went home. And the more I thought about it the more it worried me because she was not the type of person — not the least type of person to be careless or irresponsible or forget about an appointment.”
       Three-and-a-half hours later, two policemen sitting in an unmarked car at the 102nd street cross drive are approached by two Latino men shouting excitedly about a man in the woods who has been beaten and tied up.
       “And as I was driving down the path, my headlights came across her,” says Officer Joseph Walsh, first on the scene.

       He gets out the car and sees a body on the pavement, lying face up and thrashing violently.
       “There was moans coming from her,” says Walsh. “So I reached down and she was tied up, really, you know, elaborately tied up. They tied the first knot in her mouth. Then they put her hands together and they drew her hands into her mouth, and then put the other knot around this side of her hands... The EMS guy didn’t figure she’d ever make the morning,” says Walsh. “She was beaten as badly as anybody I’ve ever seen beaten. She looked like she was tortured. She had a crack in the side of her head. Her eye was out like this, soaked with blood.”
       “She nearly bled out through sharply inflicted lacerations in her scalp,” says Dr. Robert Kurtz of the Surgical Intensive Care Unite at Metropolitan Hospital. “This was the blood that was on the ground. It was on her clothing. It was on the stretcher when she came in the hospital. I think she bled about as much as you can bleed and still be alive.”
       “We didn’t think she would survive,” says plastic surgeon Dr. Jane Haher. We really didn’t. Everybody thought that she wouldn’t survive.”
       “Her identification wasn’t on her, so nobody knew who she was, whether she was a working woman or a homeless woman,” says Linda Fairstein of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
       “I heard on the news radio that a woman jogger had been found in Central Park, and that she was unconscious, in a coma, and had been badly beaten,” says Peter Vermylen, a senior colleague at Salomon Brothers. “I immediately thought of my colleague. She was well known as an avid jogger. And unfortunately also I was aware that she occasionally ran in the park at night, after dark.”
       “She was normally in before me,” says Pat Garrett. “She was an earlier riser. So she was not there at her desk. And that, you know, it increased the concern that much more.”
       “I asked her secretary if she’d heard from her,” says Peter Vermylen. “She said no. She was surprised she hadn’t heard, because she was pretty good about letting us know. So I asked her to call her apartment, and no answer. By this time, I was getting very concerned again. So I sat in my office for a few minutes, thinking about it. And then decided to call the police.
       “There were calls coming from all different area,” says Det. Humberto Arroyo of the Central Park Detective Squad. “And it started to gel together that perhaps this was someone from Salomon Brothers.”
       “He very quickly asked if she had an unusual ring,” says Vermylen. “And I didn’t know. But I asked her secretary to come in and when I posed the question to her she said, ‘Yes she has a ring that’s shaped like a little piece of rope tied in a knot.’ So I turned back to the phone and I told the detective. And he said, ‘It’s her.’ And then I heard him yell in the background, ‘We’ve got her. She’s an investment banker.’ At that point I went into a brief state of shock. I couldn’t catch my breath for a couple of minutes. I couldn’t speak for a few seconds.”

   “There was a decision made that somebody from our area had to go to the hospital to see her and identify her,” says Pat Garrett.
       “Mr. Garrett looked at her, probably, for at least five minutes,” says Det. Arroyo. “I could see that he was trying his best to scan what he could see of her, to try and make some sort of identification. It wasn’t until he was shown the ring that was on her finger during the attack.
       “And you know, when I saw that, it was impossible to deny any longer that this was her,” says Pat Garrett.
       She may have been identified, but it was unclear if she would ever recognize anyone or anything. She was in a deep coma that measured perilously low on the neurological scale. She couldn’t communicate what happened that night. But her injuries spoke volumes to her doctors. They describe skin torn off, evidence of beating, slashing and dragging, a blow to her face that caused her eye to explode through the thin bones of her socket. And more.
       “To see the impressions of fingers, just fingers on both of her thighs, and on her calves,” says Dr. Haher. “I just remember standing there, and thinking of the horror of rape, of thinking of some people holding her down while somebody raped her. I mean to me, just the whole sanctity of the person, the sacredness of a person was violated that day.”
       In the sunlight, the desolate area in Central Park where the jogger had been discovered, told its own story to police. She had been dragged 290 feet — almost the length of a football field — into woods so thick, they erased the skyline and all signs of city life. Her running clothes, black leggings, a sneaker, an inner sole, a sock, were bread crumbs to the crime scene where she had been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted. And this was not the only desecration in New York’s beloved Central Park the previous night.
       “Young men not a formal gang, but groups of young men, some of whom knew each other, some of whom didn’t, had gathered for the purpose of assaulting, attacking anybody they could find in their path,” says Linda Fairstein. “The plan seems to be a very spontaneous one to go into the park and rough people up.”
       The group swelled to some 40 teens when the rampage began around 9 p.m. With makeshift weapons, they terrorized at least 12 people: joggers, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, including a retired marine. The suspects, who were swiftly rounded up, called it, “wilding.” As chilling as their alleged actions were, their words while in custody, were shocking, too. Police say some were laughing and chanting these lyrics. This apparent bravado paled in comparison to videotaped statements leading police to believe the boys were involved in the assault of the 28-year-old jogger.
       In retrospect, it would seem fitting that the gold ring, as delicate as the gravely-injured jogger herself, would reveal her identity.
       “It was a gift from my mother and father,” she says. “And it’s what in some way brought me back to the world as someone with a name, as opposed to the unknown white female.”
       To the world, however, she would remain anonymous. With few exceptions, the press shielded her identity, as it does with all rape victims to protect their privacy. The public might only have known her as a statistic: one of 3,200 reported rapes in New York City in 1989. But the depravity of the attack, the young ages of the defendants, and racial tensions that gripped the city at the time made this no ordinary crime.
       Within 24 hours, the larger-than-life “Central Park Jogger” was born, the tragedy magnified by her background: an Ivy League graduate with a promising career at a prestigious, investment banking firm. She became a mythic figure in one sense, all too mortal in another. After 75 percent of her blood had spilled onto the earth, her face broken in pieces, she was suspended in that precarious place between life and death.

 The brain swelling could have killed her. It was just one of many circling threats. And even if she cheated death, what kind of life would she have? Early on, one specialist consulted by the family delivered a devastating blow. It might be better for everyone, he said, if she died.
       “He examined her and he basically came out and told her family, you know, she’s probably not gonna make it and if she does, you know she’ll be a vegetable,” says college friend Ardith Eicher.
       A week after the attack, the jogger’s main doctor closely monitored her every breath, hoping to improve her chances.
       “My gut feeling was that they were slim but not zero,” says Dr. Kurtz. “And that we were going to play the hand of cards that we were dealt and work with her and go as far as we possibly could.”
       Professional pride held him at her bedside for seven weeks straight. So did personal anguish.
       “My oldest daughter had been raped when she was still a child,” says Dr. Kurtz. “I know what it feels like to have a member of your family treated that way.”
       The crime had pierced many hearts and compassion for the jogger seemed to spring from the place she had fallen. If the brutality was unimaginable, so was the outpouring of love. Her colleagues made pilgrimages to the hospital. Total strangers reached out in extraordinary ways.
       “There were thousands, thousands of letters and cards that came in,” says Lisa Borowitz. “It was just so amazing. There was everything from Frank Sinatra sending roses and people of that level, all the way down to just, you know the people on the street.”
       Religious objects and ointments from around the world found their way to the hospital, where her private nurse put her faith in them. Every day there was reason to hope.
       “I would sing ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ and when I say, ‘ran up the water spout,’ she’d put her hands up like the kids would do, you know,” says nurse Patricia Babb. “She was hearing.”
       Slowly, the jogger’s day-to-day survival seemed less uncertain. Finally, after 12 days in a coma, the jogger did something that would epitomize her spirit — she gave her doctor a high five.
       She slipped in and out of delirium, as her brain sputtered in fits and starts. The blows battered her brain and shattered her face so badly that her left eye was dislodged from its socket. Four weeks after the attack, her medical team tried to repair the damage.
       “The fact that she didn’t lose vision in that eye,” says eye surgeon Della Rocca, “at least in my mind is close to something miraculous.”

       When she was found tied in a praying position, she had only one hour at the most to live. Now, seven weeks later, the Central Park Jogger was finally out of danger. In early June, she was transferred to Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut, where she would have to relearn everything. The once the rock-solid athlete had broken like a porcelain doll. To outsiders, her situation seemed tragic.
       “It depends on how you looked at it,” says Pat Garrett. “Who really cared if she was ever gonna go back to being an investment banker at Salomon Brothers or not? It really didn’t matter. She clearly was going to live.”
       The road before her would be staggering and steep, but she would live to celebrate her 29th birthday. She would live to run again and she would live to share her story.
       “‘I’m proud to tell you that my name is Trisha Meili,’” she reads from her new book. “To be able to say this at all represents an important breakthrough in my healing.”
       Katie Couric: “Why after 14 years did you decide at this moment it was okay to reveal yourself?”
       Trisha Meili: “It was a long journey.”
       She was born about 20 miles west of New York in Paramus, N.J., before moving to Pittsburgh. Her mom was a homemaker, her dad, a Westinghouse executive, and she, the tag-a-long sister in a family of three, always trying to keep up with her big brothers. Meili: “I’d be playing football out with the boys and it was time for ballet class. So I’d come running in and, you know, grab my leotard and tights and my ballet slippers and rush off.”
       So poised at the barre, she was no slouch in school either. Phi Beta Kappa was just one on a roster of achievements.
       Couric: “You went to Wellesley, two master’s degrees from Yale, including an MBA — not very smart. [laughter] And you really were very impressive academically. Were you always an excellent student?”
       Meili: “I was a very disciplined student. And you know, part of it was that I always wanted to be the best.”

     At first she wanted to change the world and considered joining the foreign service. But in bullish 1980’s America, Wall Street was the place to go.
       Meili: “I thought, well, let me just give this a try. Let me see if I can compete, you know with the best and the brightest. I didn’t necessarily think, oh this is what I really want to do.”
       In 1986, she landed at Salomon Brothers. So cut-throat, people would say no one would stab you in the back, they would come through the door with a hatchet. But not Trisha.
       Peter Vermylen: “She stood out among her immediate peers and really across the whole investment banking department as being very friendly, always with a ready smile, always cheerful.”
       Running helped her cope with the pressure and with a secret struggle. From the time she was 15, she suffered from anorexia.
       Meili: “I was very conscious of what I ate, and how much I exercised. And that was part of the compulsiveness about running — that I always had to be running.”
       Couric: “Why was it so important to you?”
       Meili: “Because I was feeling pretty average at work. And I wasn’t any speed demon or you know a track star, but I felt a lot of peace and I guess a sense of accomplishment when I was out at night. And there were, you know, there were other people out there, too, but usually not too many.”
       Couric: “Were you ever afraid to run at night?”
       Meili: “It’s hard to hear me say it, I guess, but no I wasn’t. I wasn’t afraid. Because I had done it for a long time and nothing had happened. And so I had some — I had some sense of security from that. And I also had this feeling deep inside that ‘nothing’s going to happen to me.”
       Couric: “So not even patches of the park creeped you out?”
       Meili: “I did have some ground rules. I would never go to the north end of the park. I always did go up to the 102nd street cross drive, always at the first part of my run. I suppose I did realize that, yes it’s more secluded, but I’ll just get it over with more quickly and then I’ll be fine.”
       Wednesday, April 19, 1989 — the number one song in America was Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.” The high was 65, the market was up, 47 sailors were killed in an explosion on the Iowa, and there were closing arguments in the trial of Oliver North. The only thing on Trisha’s calendar was dinner with a friend. She told him over the phone she had to cancel. That was 5 p.m. She did tell her buddy Pat, who sat in the next cubicle, he could stop by and see her new stereo later that night.
       Meili: “So I said, ‘I’m going to go for a run. So why don’t you come around 10.’ And I only know that because he told me later. I have no recollection of that conversation.”
       She headed to the park at 9 p.m. Less than 20 minutes later, a routine run, suddenly, violently, became a frantic fight for life.
       Couric: “You were almost beaten to death. what do you remember about the attack?”
       Meili: “Absolutely nothing. I remember that call at five o’clock. And the next thing I remember is an event five-and-a-half weeks later. I remember nothing. And it’s never changed.”
       It’s not that she didn’t want to remember what happened. This wasn’t a case of repressed memory. The severity of the blows made it impossible for her to process the experience and even obliterated her memory of going for a run that night.
       Couric: “You describe the fact that you can’t remember as a blessing.”
       Meili: “In a lot of ways it is. That I, you know, have no memory of the horror of that night, of the violence, of the beating, of the feeling of helplessness of powerlessness. And so I don’t have these flashbacks. I don’t see faces. Or I’m not always looking over my shoulder.”
       But, every now and then, she can’t help but imagine the attack.
       Meili: “I do wonder about it. And I think about what it must have been like. But it doesn’t go too far. I can’t let myself go too far down that path.”
       Couric: “When this happened, some people said, ‘Running alone in Central Park at night? That girl must be crazy.’”
       Meili: “That question bothers me a bit. The implication is, ‘Okay it’s my fault that I was raped and beaten and almost killed?’ These random acts unfortunately happen all the time.”
       Trisha says she never focused on the “what if’s.”
       Couric: “Do you ever look back, Trisha, and say ‘No you shouldn’t have be doing that.’”
       Meili: “That also was so important in my healing, that I didn’t look back. And I think that really was a big factor in helping me move along in my recovery.”
       After she emerged from her 12-day coma, a New York prosecutor asked her what had happened.
       Meili: “She didn’t want anyone telling me anything so my response would be pure.”
       When it was clear she could not provide any details, the prosecutor gently filled her in.
       Meili: “She very gingerly told me that she believed that a group of teenagers had sexually assaulted me. I don’t remember that but I do remember very vividly asking my boyfriend, some time after that, ‘How do you feel about the fact that I’ve been raped?’ So I had to have absorbed something.”
       Couric: “But you didn’t have a huge reaction, and you weren’t outraged. It slowly registered.”
       Meili: “It was a process and that seems to be what my whole recovery was.”
       Couric: “When did you realize, Trisha, that everybody was pulling for you?”
       Meili: “When, I got those roses from Frank Sinatra. He hadn’t sent me roses before.”
       It would be her sense of humor, an amazing feat in itself, that kept her going through five months of rehabilitation.

   When Trisha arrived at Gaylord Hospital, nearly two months after the attack, she could not stand up or walk without support. She struggled for balance and coordination and seemed to shake uncontrollably. She was also seeing double.
       Meili: “My head hurt. My body felt heavy and it was, you know, tough moving or slow moving, like I was almost going though mud or something.”
       Couric: “Here you are somebody who’s a graceful, incredibly athletic person and rolling over is a major accomplishment?”
       Meili: “Yeah, and at the time, that meant a lot to me, being able to do that. Yeah, and at the time, that meant a lot to me, being able to do that. Or, you know take three steps on the parallel bars, you know that was an achievement.”
       As driven as ever, Trisha now measured her progress in inches not miles. Imagine the triumphs. Taking a shower without a nurse, being able to button a blouse, putting on mascara, tying her own shoes. She simply refused to be sidelined by despair. Just two months after the attack, Trisha was trying to one-up her big brothers.
       But she had yet to face how much had been taken from her and how violently. Prosecutors thought as many as 15 teenagers had participated in the assault. By the summer of 1989, five were awaiting trial.
       Couric: “Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecutor, came to see you at the rehabilitation hospital in July of 1989 and read you the long disturbing list of charges: riot, robbery, assault, sexual abuse, rape, sodomy and attempted murder. Do you remember that?”
       Meili: “My memory is I had absorbed everything except the sodomy. You know, I freaked out. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you know nobody told me that.’ And I think I really felt the horror of it. But the amazing thing is, when I had spoken to Elizabeth after that she says, ‘Yeah I remember that and I remember your response was oh, did you have a nice trip up from the city.’ Talk about running away from from something that I couldn’t face.”
       Couric: “Do you think your emotions were somehow muted as the result of your brain injury?”
       Meili: “Or was it that my body — my mind was protecting me at some fundamental level? You know, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the way my body protected me.”
       The brain injury had also affected her intellect. She can only imagine the fear she must felt in Central Park that night, but she vividly recalls her terror, when a therapist asked her, an Ivy Leaguer with two master’s degrees, to draw a picture of two o’clock.
       Meili: “I thought I can’t remember which hand is the big hand. And it was just this incredible fear of, oh my God, you know, I’m so stupid. I can’t do this.”

   It happened again when she couldn’t remember what she’d read after she turned the page.
       Meili: “I’m thinking, ‘What, what is this, what’s going on? I don’t remember this name?’ And that scared me because I thought, ‘I can’t even read this book.’”
       Couric: “What has been, Trisha, the long term impact of the attack on your intellectual capabilities?”
       Meili: “The most difficult aspect of the healing to be able to accept not being exactly as I was before. And I’m not. I have some difficulty with multi-tasking. I don’t like too many things coming at me at once, it’s hard for me to focus.”
       She has short-term memory problems, has trouble thinking of words, and she is not as mentally agile as she once was.
       As for her physical condition, she still has some lingering problems with balance and coordination. But she has vastly improved.
       In August 1989, four months after her last run Central Park, Trisha started jogging again. Her footsteps were heard miles away.
       Meili: “It was a sense of taking back something that had been taken away from me. And it filled me with such hope. It was great.”
       But there was more Trisha needed to do to reclaim her life.”
       In the fall of 1989, Trisha returned home to New York — to a job at Salomon Brothers, and to a particular path in Central Park.
       Couric: “Five months after the attack, you came back here to Central Park for a run during the day and you used the 102nd street cross drive.”
       Meili: “I almost needed to make a statement to say yes, I can come back here and run by this and live my life as I had been living. I needed to do it for my own psychological healing.”
       Couric: “You also came back Trisha, because there was a makeshift memorial here, flowers and messages.”
       Meili: “It was something. I had heard about it, I had read about it, and I wanted to see it. And it was just so moving and I did want to shout out you know, thank you so much it’s making such a difference, but I just sort of stood there quietly and I just felt tears welling up and it was just a beautiful day for me.”

   She didn’t shout out that day, and she wouldn’t for many years. She did, however, feel compelled to testify when her case went to trial in 1990. Four of the five teenage defendants, some with their parents present, had confessed to police on videotape. Trisha had seen disturbing excerpts on the news.
       Meili: “That was hard, especially when, you know, I watched them make arm movements about how they held me down. It was hard.”
       Almost nothing else connected the teens to the crime. Not blood. Not DNA. A semen sample taken from Trisha’s sock belonged to someone who was still out there. Supporters of the boys insisted they were innocent. Against the advice of her family and therapists, Trisha decided to testify, with her anonymity guaranteed.
       Meili: “I felt strongly that those who confessed, that they had raped and beaten me should be responsible for the consequences of making that decision.”
       Couric: “In the book you write, ‘...to me the trials, as well as the attack itself, weren’t about race.’ What were they about?”
       Meili: “They were about violating a woman.”
       The teens were convicted and sent to prison for seven to 13 years. They had served their time when the case exploded again last year. Convicted murderer and serial rapist, Matias Reyes, confessed that it was he who had attacked the Central Park Jogger. DNA tests proved it. Even more stunning, he claimed to have done it on his own.
       Couric: “What was your reaction when you heard that he confessed to the crime and said that he had acted alone?”
       Meili: “If he is telling the truth, it’s a horrible thing if innocent people are sent to prison and — it only adds to the tragedy of that evening.”
       After a controversial investigation, the so-called Jogger Five were cleared. They have filed a $250 million lawsuit against New York City. They say their confessions were coerced. But investigators for the New York Police Department are still convinced the five teenagers were somehow involved.
       Couric: “Do you think you’ll ever really know what happened that night in Central Park?”
       Meili: “No, I mean I’ll never know. And I’ve, I’ve you know come to terms with that a long time ago.”
       And she has learned to live with the constant reminders — the words that escape her, the walk that isn’t always smooth and the loss of her sense of smell.
       Couric: “When people see you, Trisha, they would say, gosh, you would never be able to tell that this horrific attack took place. I looked at your face, you have a little bit of a scar right here, but other than that, you can’t really tell.”
       Meili: “There’s a little bit more but with all things, time heals and but I do have, I mean my hair covers it a bit, but I have some scars around this eye that goes up into my forehead. And I have a scar that goes from ear to ear.”
       Trisha’s healing stretched through a decade and she found new balance, in every sense. Six years after the attack, she ran the New York City marathon. She met someone who not only accepts her for who she is, he loves for it.
“He’s very honest and I feel very comfortable talking about, you know, the difficulties I have.”
       Couric: “To not be perfect.”
       Meili: “To not be perfect, and be a whole person at the same time.”
       On September 15, 1996, Trisha traded in that little bow ring for another one. Among the wedding guests, was a well-wisher who had written her beautiful letters of encouragement. On this day, he read a passage of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
       Meili: “A perfect stranger, yeah I mean he became part of my family.”
       Trisha started paying forward the kindness. She helped Danny, who had also suffered a brain injury, reach his goal. She even shared her experience in private forums for the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program that had helped her and her family.

     The “change-the-world” whispers she had once ignored grew louder. After 12 years in investment banking, Trisha left in search of something more meaningful. And found it, during another talk about her recovery.
       Meili: “A man sitting in a wheelchair said to me, you give me great hope. He said, ‘It can be done. I can beat this.’ And when I say that now, I just get shivers up my spine when I remember it because it was so powerful. And I thought if I can do this and give this — this kind of hope to people then, that’s what I need to be doing. And so that really led to the start of the project of writing the book.”
       Her mother, who once told a reporter, that her family was “united in silence” seemed to understand Trisha’s need to speak out.
       Meili: “When I told her about this experience she said to me, ‘You know what? Maybe this will lead you to what you really want to do.’ And I just kind of sat back and I thought, wow, you know, she’s understanding what I’m saying that I have this need to do this.”
       Couric: “And sort of giving you her blessing.”
       Meili: “I think so. That’s the way I interpret it.”
       It was Trisha’s last conversation with her mother before she died.
       Trisha still loves to run, once a week now, no longer every day. She’s no longer a hard-charging professional trying to prove herself on Wall Street. But for all that was taken away, she says, she has found something far greater — the capacity to be generous and to love.
       Meili: “For that, I am grateful.”
       Couric: “Many people have a lot of impressions of the Central Park Jogger, but now they’re just beginning to get an impression of Trisha Meili. What do you hope your name will come to mean?”
       Meili: “I hope that I will be a symbol of hope and possibility. An example of what with tremendous medical care, with tremendous love and support, what a person is able to do and become. That’s what I hope.”
       It’s likely that she’ll always be known as the Central Park Jogger. And yes, her life was nearly destroyed and certainly changed forever. Yet she refuses to be consumed by hatred, bitterness, or thoughts of revenge. Trisha Meili has better things to do.

'How the hell did I survive?'

She has until now been known simply as the Central Park Jogger, after the rape and assault that left her in a coma for two weeks and shattered New York. Now Trisha Meili has decided to tell her story

Gary Younge
Thursday April 3, 2003
The Guardian

For 14 years she has been known simply as the Central Park Jogger. Known to the nation not by her name, but by what she was doing and where she was doing it on April 19 1989 - the night she was beaten into a coma, brutally raped and left for dead in a pool of mud. A year later five black and Hispanic teenagers were arrested and charged with the attack.

With both the name and image of the survivor protected, the Central Park Jogger was transformed from an individual tale of suffering and survival into a signifier of urban meltdown and moral collapse. Two years after the release of Tom Wolfe's novel Bonfire of the Vanities, the case symbolised everything that was wrong with New York - sexual violence, crime, alienation and racial division. A city undermined by insecurity, underpinned by inequality and both driven and riven by greed.

Now the Central Park jogger has decided to go public. No longer frozen in the popular consciousness as an emblem of what could happen to a woman on a dark night during a dark period for New York, Trisha Meili, 42, has emerged as a woman who can describe the horrific experience but refuse to be defined by it.

"Who I am today... is a survivor named Trisha Meili who may still not be able to walk steadily or see without double vision or be able to juggle too many ideas at once in her mind," she writes in a memoir entited, I am the Central Park Jogger: A story of Hope and Possibility, which is due to be released in the US on Monday. "But I have the capacity to be generous and to love. Rather than take away those attributes the attack allowed me to find them in myself. For that I am grateful."

Meili made a recovery described by doctors as "miraculous". Now married and living in a suburb of Connecticut, she returned to work eight months after the attack and has since run the New York City marathon, taking her back through Central park. "I had reclaimed my park, I knew I would finish," she says.

But even as she stepped forward to relive her ordeal in print, the case returned to public attention in the courts. Last September an imprisoned murderer and serial rapist, Matias Reyes, confessed that he alone attacked Meili. Tests later showed a DNA match. The five young men originally convicted of the crime were then acquitted and released in December.

The five men, aged between 14 and 16 at the time, had all completed prison terms of between seven and 12 years for crimes it appears they did not commit, sentences secured on confessions they say were extracted from them under duress. Even as Meili seeks to put the past behind her with the publication of her book, the new chapter in the long story of miscarriage of justice and racist policing at the hands of the New York police department is being written.

"We were angry and frustrated in 1989," Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president and now president of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, told the New York Times. "And we're frustrated and bewildered in 2002. I think they're both bad."

Back in 1989 Meili was a vice-president at the investment banking firm, Salomon Brothers. She would run six or seven miles a night to unwind from the pressures of Wall Street. The youngest of three children who grew up in suburban Pennsylvania she had always been a high achiever with a curious edge. After finishing a degree in economics she went to Yale to get an MBA as well as a master's in international relations.

But even as she aimed for the long hours and high pay of the corporate world at the beginning of the Reagan years, she sought to develop interests away from her career - working as a summer intern in the American embassy in Zimbabwe and at a Boston shelter for abused women.

But the desire to succeed took its toll from a relatively early age. In her book she writes of the battles she had with anorexia from the age of 15 and into her mid-twenties. Later, in psychotherapy, she would acknowledge the connection between her eating disorder and her "compulsive need to run."

When Meili set off for her run on April 19, 1989 she says she was aware of Central Park's reputation as a crime hotspot. At that time the whole of New York was synonymous with crime and poverty. One in four New Yorkers classified as poor - a figure unequalled since the Depression. The growth in wealth and number of a super-rich elite alongside them began to unpick the very social fabric of the city. The subway was covered in graffiti. Times Square, one of the main thoroughfares, had become a red light district. It was a meltdown best exemplified by the phenomenon of "wilding" - in which gangs of young men would stalk the streets harrassing people at will and whim.

Wherever the spectre of crime lurked, issues of race were never far behind. It was the year when black Democrat David Dinkins won the mayoralty against Rudolph Giuliani with the narrowest victory in city history. It was an election that was split crudely down racial lines. Dinkin's manifesto was "Safe Streets, Safe City: Cops and Kids."

Meili's run took her into an isolated area of the park that night. "I don't blame myself for making [the decision], though I never, ever imagined that the run would have the result that it did. I understand why I was out there," she says.

What she could not have known was that Matias Reyes was midway through a year-long rampage against women of the Upper East Side that night when he saw her. Reyes, who has described himself as "a monster", said he was in the park because he had "that feeling".

"I just had to have her," he has said. Meili was listening to music on her personal stereo when she veered left by 102nd Street and Reyes pounced. He asked for her address so that he could rob her apartment. When she refused he struck her several times with a rock and raped her. Meili suffered fractures to her skull and her face and lost three quarters of her blood. Doctors at the Metropolitan hospital said she was probably kept alive by the fact that she lay in cold mud for four and a half hours before being discovered, thus reducing internal swelling. She lay in a coma for 12 days, waking to find flowers from, among others, Frank Sinatra - her first notion that what had happened to her had made big news.

"I was bruised on every part of my body except for the soles of my feet," she writes in her book. News of the crime made a huge and immediate impact on the city. News that six black and Hispanic teenagers had been caught and had confessed - one was later released - drove the racial wedge even deeper.

"People who called themselves friends were reluctant to engage in conversation about the jogger in mixed company for fear that their white friends would associate them with the monsters of Central Park," wrote Wilbert Tatum in New York's black newspaper, the Amsterdam News, in October.

With the young men convicted Meili got on with her life as best she could. She still has a slight limp and occasionally suffers memory loss as a result of the attack. She left Salomon Brothers in 1996 and became head of the Bridge Foundation in New York, which helps people recovering from traumatic events. She later married Jim Schwarz, a sales consultant whom she met on a blind date.

Meanwhile, New York changed. While the poverty and racial divisions remain, much of the evidence of it was either priced out or physically moved out of Manhattan. As crime across the country dropped so it did in New York. Giuliani stood for mayor again a few years later and won, introducing zero tolerance of petty crimes, forcing beggars and sex workers out of Times Square and declaring war on squeegee merchants. Crime in the city fell by 63% but in Central Park it plummeted by 74% under his tenure.

Meili had already agreed to abandon her anonymity and write the book when Reyes' confession was made public last year. When the convictions of the five alleged rapists were quashed it became clear that while much in New York had changed, the rancour surrounding the case remains.

"They were convicted because the newspapers and media outlets saw blood," writes Tatum. "They saw young black men who had not reached their majority...and without evidence and with forced testimony of children, convinced white New York that some unruly black boys had done this terrible deed: They had beaten a white woman nearly to death. In addition to that, they had raped her."

In her book, Meili says she recalls nothing of the night she was attacked. Not remembering, she says, "makes me feel helpless not as a victim but as someone who wants to contribute to the truth". News of Reyes' confession, however, has chilled her. "Reyes became real to me in a way the five had not," she writes. "I didn't want to see him in the papers or hear him talk on the television. He had murdered a woman and raped more, forcing some at knife point to make a choice: 'Your eyes or your life'. How the hell did I survive?"

Central Park Jogger Discusses Her Attack

Wednesday April 9, 2003 9:30 AM

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Five months after she was savagely attacked in New York's Central Park, Trisha Meili returned to the park after hearing about a memorial erected for her near the spot where she was raped and nearly beaten to death in 1989.

There, she found a small ring of stones surrounded by carefully arranged flowers and notes.

One read: ``To the fallen runner, please run through it.''

Meili stood quietly and wept.

She recalls the moment in her book, ``I Am the Central Park Jogger, A Story of Hope and Possibility.''

``It was something, just to see that tangible evidence of outpouring of support,'' Meili said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. ``It made me think: This is where I need to return to. These people have done so much for my recovery.''

Meili, 42, decided after 14 years to reveal her identity with her book, which was released Tuesday.

Meili, who lives in Connecticut with her husband, said that since she has gone public she has received another outpouring of support.

``It's felt so good, it really has,'' she said. ``I've gotten such a wonderful response in e-mails, some people recognizing me on the street or in buildings and telling me how thankful they are that I shared my story. The last two days have been a confirmation for me that doing this was the right thing to do.''

Five teenagers were convicted in the assault and served prison sentences ranging from 6 years and 8 months to 13 years. Their convictions were thrown out in December after Matias Reyes, 31, an imprisoned murderer, said he alone had attacked the jogger. A DNA test confirmed he was involved.

Before the attack, Meili, an Ivy League graduate, was a marathon runner who worked long hours on Wall Street in the corporate finance department at Salomon Bros.

These days, she serves as a volunteer on nonprofit boards, including a hospital where she was treated, and speaks to members of different groups, including patients undergoing rehabilitation and survivors of sexual assault.

Meili had to relearn to read, write, subtract and even tell time. Gradually, she realized she would recover.

Returning to the park, Meili said, was an act of defiance.

``I love this park,'' she said in the interview. ``You can't keep me from doing that.''


Victim's rape story set to be bestseller

Joanna Walters in New York
Sunday April 13, 2003
The Observer

Writing a bestseller is the new therapy for victims of serious crime - particularly women who break one of the last taboos by talking openly about being raped.

Trisha Meili needed no introduction last week. Her new book is simply called I Am the Central Park Jogger, and it is likely to top the US bestseller list within days.

While many people recall the 'wilding' attack of 1989, when the investment banker was dragged into a ravine in the New York park, raped, sodomised and beaten so badly she lost 80 per cent of her blood, her name and face were not known to the public.

Meili, who is now aged 42, emerged in front of television cameras and on the cover of her book last week, however, a petite, elegant woman with a scar on her cheek. 'I was damned if I was going to die,' she said. 'And I refuse to be ashamed.'

It is unlikely to be long before Hollywood immortalises her on film, with Cameron Diaz or Reese Witherspoon re-enacting the fateful run in the dark.

Ghostwriters and movie agents are already queueing outside the wooden house in the West Virginia woods where the wounded Iraqi war heroine, Private Jessica Lynch, and her family live.

In the US the stories of women who survive terrible ordeals are forming a new literary genre. US army Colonel Rhonda Cornum was taken prisoner when her helicopter was shot down during the 1991 Gulf war. She went on TV when Lynch was captured to tell how she was sexually abused by one of her captors. She avoided rape only because her attacker was unable to get her flying suit off over her badly broken arms and gunshot wounds. Instead he forced his hands inside her clothing.

Cornum refused to be crippled by the experience, and now trains others to withstand mistreatment and, like Meili, chose to write a book.

'There are plenty of success stories, and if people like me don't talk about it the only stories people hear are the bad ones,' Cornum said.

Author Alice Sebold has vehemently rejected the notion that writing about rape is therapeutic when she published her memoir, Lucky .

However, Beth Wareham, a director of Meili's publisher, Scribner, said: 'All memoirs are a form of therapy. More and more rape survivors are coming forward with a burning need to talk.'

Meili is giving most of her advance of $500,000 (£318,000) to anti-rape campaigners, hospitals and a jogging group which helped her recover.

She had to learn to talk and walk again after being in a coma for five weeks, but went back to work at her Wall Street bank and ran the New York marathon past the spot where she nearly died.

'I don't want to be a walking miracle. I am an ordinary person,' Meili said. 'But I wanted to let people know, particularly New Yorkers, but all the people around the world who sent me cards and flowers, that I am okay and their support was vital.'









Jogger: 'I'll Never Know'

Recalls nothing of Central Park attack

By Karen Freifeld

April 7, 2003

Trisha Meili, "the Central Park jogger," doesn't think she'll ever know what happened to her on April 19, 1989, the night she was raped, beaten and left for dead in a pool of mud.

Meili, 42, who went public with her name last month and has written a memoir, "I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility," due out tomorrow, said in an interview last night with NBC's Katie Couric that she remembers "absolutely nothing" about the infamous attack.

"I'll never know. And I've, I've, you know, come to terms with that a long time ago," Meili said.

It is a fact that has added meaning since the guilt or innocence of the five men who served 6 to 13 years in prison for the crime came into question last year. Their convictions, based largely on their own confessions, were overturned after a serial rapist and murderer whose DNA matched that from the crime scene said he alone was responsible for the attack.

"If he is telling the truth, it's a horrible thing if innocent people are sent to prison and it only adds to the tragedy of that evening," Meili told Couric.

The Manhattan district attorney's office, which investigated the case again last year, has taken the position that the serial rapist, Matias Reyes, was the sole attacker, while police investigators still believe it's likely the five were somehow involved.

Meili, who lost 75 percent of her blood after the attack and was in a coma for 12 days, said the fact that she can't remember may be a blessing.

"I, you know, have no memory of the horror of that night, of the violence, of the beating, of the feeling of, of helplessness or powerlessness," she said. "And so I don't have these flashbacks. I don't see faces ... I'm not always looking over my shoulder."

Meili, who went to Wellesley College in Massachusetts and has two master's degrees, said the hardest part was accepting not being exactly the way she was before.

"And I'm not," she said. "I have some difficulty with multitasking. I don't like too many things coming at me at once, it's hard for me to focus then."

She married in 1996 and recently began to share her ordeal with groups. She said that one man in a wheelchair told her she gave him great hope.

"I thought if I can do this and give this ... kind of hope to people, then that's what I need to be doing," she said. "I hope that I will be a symbol of hope and possibility, an example of what, with tremendous medical care, with tremendous love and support, what a person is able to do and become."




Posted 4/7/2003 11:55 PM     Updated 4/9/2003 5:16 PM

Central Park Jogger reaches out with her story

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — Being famous while being anonymous seems like a contradiction. But for 14 years, Trisha Meili has been the most famous person hardly anyone would recognize.

In newspapers and broadcasts, she's been the Central Park Jogger, who as a 28-year-old investment banker was brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead on a spring evening in 1989 in New York's Central Park.

Reporters knew her name and where she worked, but most observed the unwritten law of journalism that rape victims are not identified.

Now, Meili has, in effect, outed herself in her book, I Am the Central Park Jogger (Scribner, $25), published today.

She was interviewed by NBC's Katie Couric for an hour-long special Sunday, and she and her husband (they married seven years ago) are scheduled to be on Today this morning.

The book, subtitled A Story of Hope and Possibility, is much more about her physical and emotional recovery than about her rape, of which she has no memory. It also deals with her gradual decision to go public and her work with other victims of traumatic brain injury. "The world reached out to me because I was so brutally attacked, and I benefited profoundly from the outpouring of support. Now I'm reaching back out to the world. "

She spent 12 days in a coma and has no memory of her first five weeks in a hospital. She writes in the third person about what she doesn't remember: how she was unable to breathe on her own and lost 75% of her blood. Her skull was fractured; an eye socket was crushed.

She writes in the first person about how she learned to walk and talk again, returned to work, ran the New York Marathon in 1995 (finishing in 4½ hours), fell in love and dealt with self-doubts.

It is "a life interrupted." She writes, "It will always take me longer to process information than I once could; I don't pick up on complicated narratives quickly — even The West Wing can be hard for me to follow. ... To acknowledge this to myself is, to say the least, not a great feeling, though in another way, it gives me peace. I accept it. I can live with it. It is a giant step in my healing."

Her story initially drew wide attention because of the brutality of the assault, which police linked to teenagers.

Last year, it was back in the news when Matias Reyes, an imprisoned murderer and serial rapist, said he alone attacked the jogger. A DNA test confirmed it. The convictions of the others were vacated.


A defiant return to Central Park: jogger discusses her ordeal, visit to memorial
JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, April 9, 2003

(04-09) 01:20 PDT STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) --

Five months after she was savagely attacked in New York's Central Park, Trisha Meili returned to the park after hearing about a memorial erected for her near the spot where she was raped and nearly beaten to death in 1989.

There, she found a small ring of stones surrounded by carefully arranged flowers and notes.

One read: "To the fallen runner, please run through it."

Meili stood quietly and wept.

She recalls the moment in her book, "I Am the Central Park Jogger, A Story of Hope and Possibility."

"It was something, just to see that tangible evidence of outpouring of support," Meili said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "It made me think: This is where I need to return to. These people have done so much for my recovery."

Meili, 42, decided after 14 years to reveal her identity with her book, which was released Tuesday.

Meili, who lives in Connecticut with her husband, said that since she has gone public she has received another outpouring of support.

"It's felt so good, it really has," she said. "I've gotten such a wonderful response in e-mails, some people recognizing me on the street or in buildings and telling me how thankful they are that I shared my story. The last two days have been a confirmation for me that doing this was the right thing to do."

Five teenagers were convicted in the assault and served prison sentences ranging from 6 years and 8 months to 13 years. Their convictions were thrown out in December after Matias Reyes, 31, an imprisoned murderer, said he alone had attacked the jogger. A DNA test confirmed he was involved.

Before the attack, Meili, an Ivy League graduate, was a marathon runner who worked long hours on Wall Street in the corporate finance department at Salomon Bros.

These days, she serves as a volunteer on nonprofit boards, including a hospital where she was treated, and speaks to members of different groups, including patients undergoing rehabilitation and survivors of sexual assault.

Meili had to relearn to read, write, subtract and even tell time. Gradually, she realized she would recover.

Returning to the park, Meili said, was an act of defiance.

"I love this park," she said in the interview. "You can't keep me from doing that."