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Trisha Meili is the 'Central Park jogger'. She wants her story to be one of hope.

On the night of April 19, 1989, Trisha Meili set out for her nightly jog in New York’s Central Park.

The 29-year-old had just finished a 12-hour day working at Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank.

That night, her regular run was cut brutally short.

Meili was struck on the head with a tree branch and dragged into a wooded area.

A few hours later, two men found Meili naked, bound and gagged. She had been severely beaten and raped. Her eye socket was crushed and she had several skull fractures.

Her white running top was now a dark shade of brown, it was so saturated with blood and mud.

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The ground where she was found was covered in blood and there were bloody drag marks from where she had been dragged from the road into the wooded area.

The investment banker was taken to Metropolitan Hospital, where doctors told her family she would likely not survive her injuries.

Somehow, 12 days later, Meili woke up from her coma. She had no memory of her attack.

While Meili was in the coma, the police had arrested and built a case against five young boys from Harlem, who were aged between 14 and 16. The police said the ‘Central Park Five’ had gang raped Meilie while “wilding” in the park.

Despite there being no physical evidence against the boys, and the fact that most of them had never even met before they were charged – Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise were convicted on a range of charges.

They spent between six and 14 years in jail.

central park five 2019
The Central Park Five in 2019. Image: Getty.
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All five men were eventually exonerated when another prison inmate, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime. After their exoneration, all five men went on to build new lives for themselves.

Meili testified at both trials of the boys, but chose to preserve her anonymity. At the trials and in the media she was simply referred to as "the Central Park Jogger".

During the trials, she told the court about her ongoing injuries from the attack. She had trouble walking. She experienced double vision. She had permanent scars on her face. She had even lost her sense of smell.

She broke down crying when the prosecution showed her the bloody top and running shoes she'd been wearing that night.

In 2003, when she was 42 years old, Meili decided to reveal her identity.

She wrote a memoir titled, I am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility. She wanted her book to be less about the horrible thing that happened to her and more about her story of courage and resilience.

"I thought this would be a good time to say, 'Hey, look. It’s been 20 years, and life doesn’t end after brain injury, after sexual assault or whatever our challenges are," she told the New York Times.

Eight months after the attack, Meili returned to work. She later left Wall Street and now works with survivors of sexual assault at Mount Sinai Hospital and Gaylord Hospital.

A few months after that night in Central Park, Meili began running again. She joined the Achilles Track Club, a running group for people with a disability, and in 1995, she ran the New York Marathon.

That same year she met her husband, Jim Schwartz, when their mutual friend set them up.

"A woman I had gone to college with knew him. I told her, 'Do me a favor, don’t tell him my history. That’s my story and I want to be able to tell it if I want to',” she later told the New York Times.

The couple married in 1996. The currently live in Connecticut.

Meili still doesn't remember the night of her attack.

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