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Encore Presentation: Interview With Trisha Meili

Aired May 3, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the Central Park jogger, raped, beaten, comatose in the savage 1989 attack that shocked the world. The victim stayed silent for 14 years and now she speaks out.
Trisha Meili, the Central Park jogger, an emotional, inspirational hour is next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.


KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE tonight Trisha Meili. Trisha tells her extraordinary story in a terrific new book, "I am the Central Park Jogger."

Let me just give you a little brief detail, and then we'll get right into it. Shortly after 9 p.m. on April 19, 1989, a young woman jogs alone near 102nd Street in New York's Central Park. She is attacked, raped, savagely beaten, left for dead. Many hours later she is found lying in the mud, her body thrashing violently. When the young woman, soon to be known as the Central Park Jogger, arrives in the emergency room, her body temperature is 85 degrees. She is comatose. She cannot breath on her own. She has a fractured skull, and has lost so much blood, that the doctors can't understand why she is still alive.

She is alive, looks terrific, and is here with us.

Why did you write this?

TRISHA MEILI, AUTHOR, "I AM THE CENTRAL PARK JOGGER": Well, the decision to share my story really has been a long one, and it's been a journey and that really is a lot of what the book is about, that whole journey of healing.

And I had decided that -- you know what? I wanted to reach back out to all the people who had reached out to me, and tell them that I was OK, that I had made it through the ordeal that you had just described, which it's hard to -- you know...


KING: But you don't remember what...


MEILI: I don't remember what you just described. And in a lot of ways, as you were reading it I thought, I just can't believe that that was me.

KING: For all these years, you were known as the Central Park Jogger. Why was your identity kept secret, since you were not a minor?

MEILI: Because it's an unwritten rule in journalism that rape survivor's names are not published. But it wasn't a secret to all those around me...

KING: Knew...

MEILI: Knew who I was. And in some way because there was so much publicity about the case, in my mind everyone knew that I had been raped. And all my colleagues at work that I didn't necessarily know personally but, you know, they would know of me, because I worked in the same company, knew what had happened.

KING: How come it never got out? I mean you would think with tabloid heaven here, somebody would latch on.

MEILI: That's true. I am grateful that that the press respected my anonymity. And I think for a long time, I needed a place to heal. I didn't want the scrutiny, you know, of, you know, the media attention and...

KING: And you had anonymity also writing the book, too, right?

MEILI: I did.

KING: Had to keep that a well-guarded secret.


KING: So you had to have negotiations, secretaries that had to know your name, people who typed up contracts...?

MEILI: Sure. But you know, no one let it out.

KING: It's amazing when you think about it.


KING: Now let's go back. You have no memory -- what's your last memory before this incident?

MEILI: My last memory is a call -- a phone call about 5:00 that evening of April 19. And I had made plans to see a friend for dinner, and a couple of other times when we were going to meet, one or the other had canceled. So, he had called that night to say around 5:00, to see if I was going to be able to go, but I had too much work to do, and I said, you know what? I just can't do it. And that's the last thing I remember.

KING: Don't remember going to the park?

MEILI: No, nothing. KING: Did doctors later explain why you don't remember this?

MEILI: Well, the -- a way for me to explain it was -- not having a medical degree is -- it's something like, you know, there's film in a camera that's in your brain. And the film gets exposed before it's actually developed. And so, like a camera, the picture's taken, and that's almost like the short-term memory. So there's a picture there, but the long term memory for it to become long-term memory, it has to be chemically processed onto your brain.

And because of the battering in my head, that process didn't happen. So it's as if the film never got developed, the pictures were taken but they're not there.

KING: Do you ever have moments when you think you remember because you now know the story?


KING: That doesn't occur?

MEILI: No. No, it doesn't happen.

KING: So you flat-out don't remember?

MEILI: No, I don't remember.

KING: What kind of job did you have?

MEILI: At Solomon Brothers I was an associate in the corporate finance department...

KING: Worked there a long time?

MEILI: Yes, I worked there, well -- I worked there for long hours. I had been there since '86, the summer of '86.

KING: Were you a frequent jogger?

MEILI: I was.

KING: Liked to jog at night, too?

MEILI: I, well, part of it was, you know, because of the schedule, because I had, you know, worked late and had to get to work early, I decided that, well, if I'm going to run, and I was compulsive about my running, I could only do it after work. And that's what I did. I didn't, you know, I didn't do it every single day, but ...

KING: Any fears about running in a park with a reputation?

MEILI: I -- yes, I had concerns. I think that's more accurate to say, than fears. But I also had the sense that, you know what? It's not going to happen to me, that, you know, that this, you know, it just, number one, it can't happen and if it does happen I'd be able to outrun the person. And I also, you know, I had rules for myself ...

KING: Like?

MEILI: Like I wouldn't go running after, you know, start running, let's say, after 9:30 at night. I didn't go to the most northern part of the park, which is a bit more secluded than the area where I was first attacked.

I didn't run around the reservoir in the park at night alone, because it's a narrow path and I thought, "Eh, that's a little bit more dangerous..."

KING: So you were careful?

MEILI: So I was careful, and people may say, "You know, what are you talking about, you went in the park at night," but...

KING: Did you run in lighted areas?

MEILI: Yes, yes.

KING: Because there are a lot of lighted areas in Central Park.

MEILI: Right. And it was always on either the main road of the park or the cross drive is a road, and it has lights on it.

KING: Had you ever had anything resembling an incident?

MEILI: No, and I had been doing it for two-and-a-half years.

KING: So you were -- are you a New Yorker by birth?

MEILI: No, New Jersey, northern New Jersey.

KING: Same thing. What was your first memory waking up?

MEILI: My first memory was about five and a half weeks later. So I don't remember any of that, you know, nasty time, really, in the hospital, either.

KING: Five-and-a-half weeks?

MEILI: Five-and-a-half weeks.

KING: So, therefore, your first memory is what?

MEILI: My first memory is seeing an old boyfriend standing at the end of my hospital bed, standing next to a nurse, and I was asking her a question, and I don't remember what the question was, but...

KING: Could it be, "Why am I in a hospital?"

MEILI: I don't think so. I don't think so. So, well, I'll answer your question, but also it's just amazing to me what the brains absorbs and not. Because people having conversations with me during that period of time. I was talking, even, but I don't remember any of that.

So, you know, the question is how much do you absorb?

And so here's the case -- so I look at the end of the bed and I see my old boyfriend, and I'm now thinking: "What the heck is he doing here?" But he had been there quite a bit. And so, I guess it didn't surprise me.

So I think I'm asking this nurse a question, and he's answering for me. And I thought, "Why is he answering?" And so, I told him, "Shut up. I'm talking to her."

So that made him think, something's a little bit different. And he told me then, much, much later that I had been asking whatever the question was, that same question numerous times, and he was trying to give her a break.

KING: Lots more to cover with Trisha Meili. The book is out. It's "I Am the Central Park Jogger." Don't go away.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police radios cackled along with the birds in Central Park. This is where a pack of teenagers dragged, gagged, beat and raped a female jogger. The suspects are 14- and 15-year-olds who blazed a nighttime trail of terror across Central Park.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids who live relatively close together, who hang out together, and I think on Wednesday night, They said, Let's raise a little hell.




ROSEANNA SCOTTO, WNYW REPORTER (voice-over): Because she's a victim of rape, the media has guarded the jogger's identity from the public. Still, the young woman's plight moved the entire city. The spot where she was attacked was memorialized with flowers. Rallies and vigils for her recovery were held.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To just show that we give each other support and her support and women support too, because this kind of thing shouldn't be happening.


KING: The police officer who found our guest, Trisha Meili, said -- his name was Joseph Walsh (ph) -- "She was beaten as badly as anybody I've ever seen beaten. She looked like she was tortured." OK. With your first sense of realization, the hospital bed, the old boyfriend, the nurse, did you have pain?

MEILI: My head hurt. It really did hurt and it felt really heavy. My whole body felt heavy. But it wasn't -- it wasn't pain in the way that I think of a sharp pain or something like that. It just felt funny or different. And it almost was like -- I was, you know, I was in some kind of a fog, too. There was just a sickness all around me.

KING: Not like a migraine headache?

MEILI: No, not a migraine headache.

KING: How about the rest of your body?

MEILI: Again, it also felt kind of like I was moving through mud, even though I was in the hospital bed. But it was just this thickness.

And I still have some sense of that when I'm walking some times or when I do run. It's a heaviness...

KING: You do run again?

MEILI: I do. I do. But not with the same compulsion. I'm proud to say that.

KING: And not at night or...

MEILI: And not at night, yes.

KING: When you or how did you learn what happened to you. Who told you?

MEILI: Well, it wasn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what I like to call an a-ha moment that suddenly I realized what had happened. I think, again, it's with what's happening with the brain and processing it, and maybe at first not being able to process it 100 percent.

But I know that in those first few weeks the prosecution asked that no one say anything about what had happened to me because they wanted to find out if I remember anything, and what I remembered, not what I had been told.

KING: So you could testify properly.

MEILI: Yes. And so at some point about those five-and-a-half- to-six weeks after, it appears I started asking questions, and maybe it was some of those questions, like, you know, what am I doing here and when can I go home, what happened?

MEILI: And so the prosecutor came in to tell me and...

KING: He told you?

MEILI: It was a she. It was a she. Elizabeth Lederer. And I don't remember that.

I -- what I do remember is that day, at some point during that day, I remember my brothers were there and I could sense some tension, you know, but I didn't know why.

KING: No one wanted to tell you?

MEILI: I guess they, you know, they were concerned of what my response would be. And, you know, they didn't want me to be hurt again. And yet I did pick up that feeling, because I remember that, but I don't remember Elizabeth Lederer telling me this.

Yet, soon after -- again, when I'm still in that hospital, before I was transferred to Gaylord in Connecticut -- that I asked my boyfriend at the time, I said to him, "Well, how do you feel about me being raped?" And I remember using those words. So I...

KING: What's he say?

MEILI: ...I knew.

He said, "It doesn't matter at all."

KING: Is the boyfriend at the time the husband who's going to be with us later?

MEILI: No. But he's a good guy, too.

KING: And he's still a friend?

MEILI: He's still a friend. He's a very good friend.

KING: Gaylord is where you -- the recovery center?

MEILI: Right. It's a rehabilitation hospital.

KING: How are you living? Why are you living? Why didn't you die that day?

MEILI: You know, I think -- I think a big part of it is all the prayers that I got, you know.

KING: From?

MEILI: From all over the world.

KING: But they didn't know who you were, they were just writing to the jogger?

MEILI: That's right. And there was just such an outpouring of support. And I know -- I mean, I know that that had an effect on me.

Actually, in the book, in the fifth chapter, the name of the chapter is called, "Thank You for Your Prayers." And I talk about that, the effect that that outpouring had on me and also the effect of not making me feel ashamed, that they were saying, you know, "You're not to blame for what happened, you know. We are ashamed by how you were treated." And that had a...

KING: Treated, meaning by the assailant?


KING: Or assailants?

MEILI: By being attacked, yes, and being raped.

And I was just going to say that they're -- I've come to learn that there are a lot of studies out there that are investigating the connection between prayer and healing.

KING: I know. And amazing the amount of people who pray themselves better.


KING: Were you praying? No, you didn't know.

MEILI: I didn't know. Yes.

KING: When you learned everything, what hurt the most?

MEILI: I think -- oh, boy. I was, you know, I was scared about how far I was going to be able to come back, but at the same time I had this feeling, I had the sense that: You know what? It's going to be all right. And I'm looking at what I'm, you know, doing and I'm working on these exercises, and they seem to be getting better, you know, maybe just a little bit, maybe I'm taking two more steps on the parallel bars in the gym. But I kept seeing progress. And that was motivation to keep pushing.

So even though, you know, I did have moments when, in particular on the cognitive side when I thought, "Oh, my gosh, you know, I'm having trouble reading this book, I turn the page and I can't remember what was on the page before it," I thought, "You know what? Just work with where you are and you'll keep going forward."

KING: What about when you learned of the incident, what hurt you the most about what happened to you?

MEILI: I think, you know, sometimes I wondered how could someone do this to me. But, at the same time, and this is what amazes me, I was getting -- as I talked about that -- outpouring of support, that tremendous love and kindness. And that's really what I focused on, that it was an extraordinary level of violence, but it was an extraordinary level of love, too.

KING: The assailant did almost everything to you, didn't he? I mean, to be honest about it, right? I mean, he put you through every kind of thing you could put someone through.


KING: And you don't remember any screaming or anything, nothing? MEILI: No, nothing, nothing.

You know, the fact that I have no memory of that...

KING: Is it good?

MEILI: I think it is good. I think it's helped me in just looking, you know, toward the future and not getting caught up.

KING: Do you have a fear you might wake up one day and remember?


KING: That's a guarantee it won't happen.

MEILI: Yes, it's a guarantee.

KING: We'll be right back with Trisha Meili, and the book is, "I Am the Central Park Jogger." We're going to show you some artifacts here with us. Is that what you call them? Artifacts?

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


MOOS (voice-over): The "get well" wishes left by people at the scene of the attack seem finally to be coming true. Doctors say, yes, she is out of her coma, off the respirator, able to read simple signs flashed at her and she has even begun to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the nurses did ask her whether she would be interested in going back to running and she herself said that she would. The patient said, "Me too."




MOOS (voice-over): The defendants weren't talking as they came into court. If they'd done the same thing back when police picked them up for questioning, the prosecution might not have much of a case. Instead, all but Youssef Salam made videotaped and written statements to police.

And in her opening argument, the prosecutor made it clear their own words would be the main evidence against the first three defendants.


KING: Twelve days in a comma, a lengthy hospital stay has led to "I Am the Central Park Jogger." By the way, the subtitle is, "A story of hope and possibility." So you're saying that people can learn from this. MEILI: I am.

KING: No matter what...


MEILI: I hope so. Yes, you can go on, you can go on.

KING: OK. You're going through this -- by the way, what is this Salomon Brothers, Connecticut Branch. I'll show this.

MEILI: Salomon Brothers, my employer, was so, so supportive of me from the very beginning. And they always, you know, gave me the sense that, yes, they wanted me back. And when I was in the rehabilitation center, when I had transferred to what they called their transitional center, which is a home-like situation where you don't need the constant supervision of the hospital, they moved in a cubicle for me, like I had had at work and it had a computer and a phone and a fax machine and what we called then a quotron (ph), that was the pre-Bloomberg days

KING: And what's Connecticut Branch?

MEILI: Well, they made that sign with Solomon's logo, and they Velcroed it to the side of the cubicle with Connecticut branch on it, because Solomon didn't have, you know, any offices in Connecticut, but...

KING: You were their Connecticut branch?

MEILI: I was their Connecticut branch.

KING: That's very sweet.

MEILI: And it really meant a lot to me.

KING: Now, the people are arrested. You can't testify, can you? You don't remember.

MEILI: No, I can't. I can't say that, you know, one of them had done it to me.

KING: How did they have a trial?

MEILI: They had made videotaped confessions.

KING: So the confessions convicted them?

MEILI: Yes, I believe so, yes.

KING: OK. Then another guy comes forward. Do you write about this, too?


KING: And says he did it. MEILI: Right.

KING: After they've already served their time?


KING: What do you make of that whole thing? I mean, you're a step away from it, what do you make of it? I mean, that is weird.

MEILI: It was, as I say in the book, it almost left me speechless when I heard. I was about half-way through the writing of the book, and then I thought, "Wait," you know, "how can this be?"

Because there were these videotaped confessions with these men describing what they had done, and he's saying...

KING: And did you read all that, by the way?

MEILI: I saw, not all of it, but I saw a lot of it that they didn't even put on the television, yes.

KING: What did it feel like, by the way?

MEILI: Seeing the videotapes?

KING: Yes, seeing them describe what they did, which they later maybe didn't do?

MEILI: Right. It's hard, and to protect myself I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it, you know, staring at it, and...

KING: You didn't?

MEILI: just, I think that's how I protected myself.

KING: Now, was the DNA in the socks, right? Your socks, DNA found on the person who later said he did it.

MEILI: Right.

KING: So it kind of proves he did it?

MEILI: Right, right.

KING: Was it hard to believe that one person could do this?

MEILI: You know, I don't know. I just don't know. And so, you read that the policeman who first saw me saying that he'd never seen anyone beaten so badly.

I don't know if one person can do that or not.

KING: Are you angry?

MEILI: I was angry more at what whoever had done it put my family through, because they saw me at my absolute worst, they wondered was I going to survive, was I going to come out of the coma, in what state was I going to come out of the coma?

And so they had to live with all that uncertainty. I was basically unconscious for 12 days of it, and then I was going in and out of delirium for another five weeks.

So it's not that then when I, you know, had my first memory that everything's fine, but I didn't have to live through the worst, and they did.

And I was very angry that they were put through that, and I was angry at what had happened to me and I thought to myself, "But I've got to, you know, I've got to look forward and keep going ...

KING: And live your life?

MEILI: ...and live my life.

KING: But something obviously went weirdly wrong here. Why did people confess to something, as a human being you must wonder, why would people confess to something they didn't do?

MEILI: I know. I just don't know, and I guess there are lots of different theories out there, but I just don't know, and it's almost too confusing for me to understand.

And different people are saying different things, so I've come to -- I've had to come to peace with it by saying, "You know what? I'm just not going to know."

KING: And you're not ever going to know?


KING: Do you have any lawsuits planned?

MEILI: Me? No.

KING: Yes, who would you sue?

MEILI: Right, yes, no.

KING: There's no one to sue, you can't sue the city for not protecting you, right?

MEILI: No. No, and part of it for me, too, is that, you know, I have to take responsibility for what I did, too.

KING: What did you do?

MEILI: Well, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) would be awful.

MEILI: Yes, that's right. It's not my fault. But I took responsibility for my own healing, I guess. I guess that's what I took responsibility for. KING: Well, one could say you should have known don't jog at night.

MEILI: No, no, no. And, you know, that one I just won't support because, unfortunately, you know, the crime of rape happens all the time.

KING: Did you ever think of giving up?

MEILI: No, no. I tell you, and that's one of the things about all that love and support that was around me. It was almost like, how could I when all these people, you know, in addition to my family were behind me and believing in me. And I thought, no, I can't give up and I'm not going to give up.

KING: And what physical ramifications resulted?

MEILI: Well, you know, I still have some balance problems. You know, I'm not going to stand up and fall over, but I veer off to one side every once in a while and I...

KING: Have a little scar on the cheek.

MEILI: And I have a little scar here and I, you know, and I have some scars up here, too.

KING: That's where you were beaten?

MEILI: Yes. And I have, from the surgery to repair my eye that was crushed in, I have a scar that goes from, you know, one ear to the other, but you can't see because of my hair. And I was going to I lost my sense of smell, so...

KING: Meaning you can't smell bacon.

MEILI: I can't smell anything.

KING: Can't smell anything.

MEILI: No. No.

KING: Smoke?

MEILI: No, that's a potentially dangerous inability to smell, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with Trisha Meili, the book is "I Am the Central Park Jogger," subtitled, "The Story of Hope and Possibility."

We'll meet her husband -- he was not the boyfriend -- in a little while. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The verdict has been set aside in their entirety.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bombshell reversal dropped after new evidence came to light. A confession and DNA match linking someone else, Mattias Reyes, a serial rapist to the crime.

ANGELA RICHARDSON, SISTER OF EXONERATED ATTACKER: We were misled, we were lied to. We were assaulted in the media, my brother's name was disgraced. He has his name back.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get away. Get that (expletive deleted) out my face!

JIM HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the courthouse supporters of the two teenagers erupted with violent emotion.


HILL: Inside the two young men had just been found guilty for their roles in the savage beating and gang rape of a young woman as she jogged through Central Park.


KING: We're back with Trisha Meili.

Now, even though there were confessions there was a trial, right?

MEILI: Right.

KING: And you had to testify.

MEILI: Yes, I did testify.

KING: What could you testify to?

MEILI: I could testify to the facts of the beating.

KING: You couldn't point to anyone and say they did it?

MEILI: I couldn't point to anyone, no, and I didn't. And I clearly -- when I was cross-examined, I clearly answered that, no, that I had no memory of that night. And actually, even when the prosecutor asked me that, I said, no, I have no memory of that night.

And there was also a theory that the defense was putting forward that my boyfriend, at the time, had done this to me. And so...

KING: Even though there were signed confessions?

MEILI: Right.

KING: They were trying to throw the confessions out.

MEILI: Yes, right.

And the court ruled at that time that the confessions were permissible.

KING: A lot of people erred here.


KING: Obviously, they erred.

MEILI: Well, you know what? I just don't know -- you know, I just don't know.

KING: All right. How about, you knew that outside you had people protesting, right?

MEILI: Right.

KING: That this was made into a racial thing, the accused were black, right?

MEILI: Right.

KING: How'd you feel about that?

MEILI: I felt that, you know, to me this was about an attack on a woman. It wasn't a racial, you know, a racial issue.

KING: Didn't cause you to have any anti-black feelings?

MEILI: Oh, no, not at all.

KING: Did not the defense attorney try to make you appear to be, like promiscuous?

MEILI: Sure.

KING: Where was he going with that?

MEILI: Oh, boy.

KING: Like you invited your own rape?

MEILI: Yes, I guess that was part of it. Another aspect of his questioning was to show that, you know, because of how far I had progressed at that time, about a year and a half after the attack, that the injuries weren't that bad.

And so, you know, and I thought to myself, oh, boy. Here was something that I was so proud of that I had been able to come so far, and my sense of it was that he was just making light of it.

KING: Was it an ordeal for you?

MEILI: To testify?

KING: Yes.

MEILI: Yes, it was very hard, yes, to be cross-examined like that. And for it to be made to seem as if I, you know, I was bringing this on and in some way it was my fault.

KING: And the press is covering this, and no one is taking pictures of you leaving the court?

MEILI: I actually -- no, the answer is no. And I actually...

KING: How'd you pull that off?

MEILI: I didn't go out through the front door of the courthouse. I went through an elevator down into a garage and got into a van and left that way.

KING: How did you deal with -- and this is kind of weird, being famous without being famous? I mean, you were one of the most famous people in America, unknown to 99.9 percent to America.

How'd that feel like? You're a famous person.

MEILI: Yes. I guess it almost felt like well that's another person, you know, that that's not me.

KING: For being a hero?

MEILI: Yes. And part of it was that, you know, well I was thinking for a while with, wow, do I want to become more public, do I want to share my story and try to give other people the sense that yes, it is possible that we can come back from whatever our circumstances are? Or was it that -- I want people to know me for me not as the label of the Central Park Jogger, someone who has a head injury, and someone who's been raped. And for a long time, that was very, very important to me.

But over the last few years, I thought, you know what, I think it's more important to get this message out there that yes we can come back, and that I'm an example, I think, of how much the love and support of others helps, and how much it makes a difference.

KING: All rape victims have psychological impairment, do they not -- that have to be dealt with. But you didn't, did you, because you don't remember being raped. So you are told you were raped.


KING: But you don't know the feeling of being raped, so that you need a different kind of psychological work.

MEILI: I definitely went into years of psychotherapy, because the attack made me reflect on my whole life. And -- you know, I had issues. I was a compulsive runner -- I had an eating disorder. And I needed to look at that. And I also needed to deal with such as you just said of being a famous person, but I'm an ordinary person, too, and how to get peace with that in a way, and how to deal with not being the same person that I was before the attack, and come to some peace that that's OK, that different doesn't mean worse.

KING: We'll take another minute, and then in a little while we'll be meeting the husband, and what role he had in all of this. We'll be right back with Trisha Meili. The book is, "I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibilities," Scribner is the publisher. Don't go away.


GLENN TOMPSON, WPIX CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The demonstrators carried signs saying "There Was No Rape." They called for justice for the six youths accused of the attack.

At one point a Tufts University law student walked past the group and shouted, "Why are are you doing this? Why don't you settle it in court?" At that point someone stepped from the crowd and punched the student.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a public sidewalk. If I want to walk through (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I can.




KING: We're back with Trisha Meili, the book, "I Am the Central Park Jogger."

But you didn't have the psychological impact of rape, because you didn't remember the rape. So when they're dealing with you, you can't describe what is it like when I'm forced entry. What is that like to have my body treated that way?

MEILI: Right.

KING: You didn't feel it.

MEILI: Right, that's right. Yes, that's right.

KING: So did it cause you any kind of hang ups?

MEILI: Having a head injury caused me hang ups.

KING: Like?

MEILI: You know, seeing myself have difficulty with things, primarily on the cognitive side. The physical side I was not able to accept and say, all right, so what, you know, I have a little bit of problem walking down stairs, and it's OK, I can deal with it.

But on the cognitive side, on the intellectual side, because that was something that, you know, I did value a lot. You know, my whole family valued it a lot, too. And I thought, oh, no, are people going to consider me stupid?

And so, that was difficult to, you know, the feeling that I was always going to have to prove myself that I'm OK.

KING: You have how many siblings?


KING: Brothers?

MEILI: Two older brothers.

KING: How did they deal with this?

MEILI: Well, they are just wonderful. And they were very, very protective of me. And, again, as I said, just, you know, like my parents they didn't want to see me get hurt again. And I think my whole family, you know, dealt with it on a day-by-day basis.

KING: Did they go to the trial?

MEILI: No, they didn't. There was a tremendous amount of publicity about it, and they thought it would be better if they weren't there.

KING: When did you jog again?

MEILI: I jogged about -- I like to say, I ran. That's the word I use.

KING: You should be the Central Park runner.

MEILI: That's right. But I didn't have a choice, you know, what I was called back then.

When I was at Gaylord, about two months after I had been there, toward the end of July, I guess I was with my physical therapist. I was starting to do a little bit of running, you know, in the gym. And there was something called an Achilles Track Club that met on Saturday mornings. And Achilles is an organization, actually around the world, that encourages people with disabilities to participate in running.

And so the head of the Physical Therapy Department, Nelson (ph), was its coach. And so he asked me, he said, you know, would you like to go running? We have a group on Saturday morning. And he told me later that I thought about it for a while. You know, is this something I want to do.

But let me tell you, that Saturday morning when I did it and Nelson was right by my side. And, you know, he says, and I remember a lot of this, too. You know, I was barely running, and teetering a bit, too. But it felt so good in a sense to take back something.

KING: What was it like when you went back to Central Park?

MEILI: I'll tell you, that was something else. That was about five months after. I was still at Gaylord, but I went back to New York City on a weekend.

KING: What time of day did you go in the park?

MEILI: It was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday.

KING: How many people with you?

MEILI: Actually it was on a Sunday. There was one other person. It was a friend of mine who was a priest. And I wanted to go back with someone that I knew and trusted.

But I needed to go back, really for two reasons. I had heard that there was a makeshift memorial there, you know, from people who were putting flowers down, and I thought, you know what? I want to see that.

And also it was a bit of my defiance coming out and saying, you know what? I'm not going to be stopped by this. I need to go back. Also to see, you know, would it trigger something, would it trigger a memory. There was that. But also just to say, you know what? I'm going to go back and it's going to be OK.

KING: Did the priest run with you?

MEILI: And the priest ran with me.

KING: Did it feel good? What did it feel like?

MEILI: It was just -- oh, it was just something else. You know, to be able to run again -- and away from Gaylord. You know, that was important, too. And then to go by that memorial was...

KING: Well, it can't be called a memorial...

MEILI: No. You're right.


KING: ... you're alive.

MEILI: I know. I know. I don't know what the right term is.

KING: What's it called, an homage?

MEILI: I don't know.

KING: It's an homage.

MEILI: Well...

KING: What is it?

MEILI: I don't know. I'd say...

KING: What's there?

MEILI: Well, now -- well, what was there? It was a circle of stones with flowers, fresh flowers, and this is five months after the attack. Fresh flowers were there. There were all these cards and signs.

KING: To someone they didn't know.

MEILI: To someone they didn't know.

KING: And they didn't know it was you when you were standing looking at it.

MEILI: No. No. There weren't too many people. In fact, I think right when I got up there there was no one else around.

KING: What was it like to look at it?

MEILI: It just filled me with this...

KING: Blow your mind?

MEILI: Oh -- and I say in the book, I just wanted to shout out thank you, you know, thank you so much.

KING: You work with this group SAVI now?

MEILI: That's the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program.

KING: Connected with the hospital?

MEILI: Connected with the hospital, but they serve eight hospitals in New York City.

KING: And you give information about it in the book.

MEILI: I do. I do.

KING: We're going to take a break, but when we come back, Jim Schwarz will join us. You still use Meili?

MEILI: I do.

KING: Not Schwarz?

MEILI: Not Schwarz.

KING: That's an independent woman.

MEILI: I've been that way for a long time.

KING: They go through hard times, they got to be independent. They can't belong (UNINTELLIGIBLE) belong to Schwarz.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: Trisha Meili's our guest. She's the author of "I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility." We are joined now by her husband, Jim Schwarz.

How did you meet, Jim?

JIM SCHWARZ, TRISHA MEILI'S HUSBAND: We met through a blind date. A college friend of Trisha's introduced us.

KING: Did you know she was the jogger?

SCHWARZ: Not initially. Trisha had asked her friend not to say anything to me, and her friend didn't. And Trisha and I spoke on the phone a couple of times before we actually met face-to-face.

And it was after we'd spoken a few times that another friend of mine recognized Trisha's name and said, do you know who she is? And told me.

And in some way I wasn't surprised, because I had already recognized through our phone conversations that she was such a special person, and I felt that strength.

KING: How did the friend know the name -- that the name was the jogger?

SCHWARZ: A friend had worked -- this was a friend of mine, not the person who introduced us, but another friend who had also worked at Salomon Brothers. So through Salomon Brothers where Trish had worked.

KING: It has to be asked, Jim. Did it bother you that the girl you were falling for was raped? All men who have had this face it.

SCHWARZ: It didn't. It didn't. And I can't say how I would have been affected if I had known Trish at the time or been with Trish at the time. I'm sure that was very difficult.

But meeting her as I did, after the fact, no, it didn't affect me.

KING: What do you do for a living?

SCHWARZ: I have my own business. I do management consulting.

KING: And you've been married now how long?

SCHWARZ: Almost seven years. KING: You have children?


KING: Can you have children?


KING: Do you want children?

MEILI: No. It's something we talked about before we got married. We thought, you know what? We're going to focus on each other.

KING: Not bad.

What's special about her?

MEILI: Oh, no.

KING: Come on, Jim. I'll ask you for the faults, too.

MEILI: No,. None of those.

KING: A person who loses balance can have faults.

SCHWARZ: And falls.

Trisha has just got such a warm heart, and it's one of the things that I felt over the phone before we'd even met. And then I...

KING: You were falling for her on the phone?

SCHWARZ: I really was. I recognized something.

And I remember the first time we went to dinner, we were sitting across the table from each other, and I just felt this love and this sense of warm, and even then I just wanted to reach up and touch her face, because I, you know, seeing the scar on the side of her face and feeling that...

KING: Loving the scar?

SCHWARZ: Yes, yes, yes.

KING: Do you have any friends say, hey, you know who this is? Anybody try to say, you know ...

SCHWARZ: No, no, in fact, Trisha had asked that I not tell friends who she was until the people got to know her, and we were having dinner with a friend of mine, someone that I'd known since college, who had met Trisha on a number of occasions, his wife and he had been up to our house, and he didn't find out until he was sitting at our wedding and somebody at the table knew Trisha from Solomon Brothers and was talking about all that had happened to Trisha. And this friend of mine just had no idea. So Trisha preferred it that way just so that people could get to know here and not put some label on her before they knew her.

KING: What is this New York City Marathon medal doing here on the vest?

MEILI: Can I talk about it?

This is one of the outpourings of support I got back in 1989, when I was still at Gaylord, and the New York City Marathon is held in November every year, and two days after the New York City Marathon I received a FedEx package with this medal in it, and a man had run it in my honor...

KING: Wow.

MEILI: ... and he sent the medal to me and, you know, as a runner I realized how much that medal means to someone who's completed a race, and it just really touched me, and...

KING: Boy. Did you contact him?

MEILI: I wrote him a letter thanking him, telling him how much it meant to me, and it really, I hung it in my room, it's still, it hangs from our closet door at home, and it just, I think, you know, kept me pushing.

KING: What was the toughest part, Trisha, about entering into a relationship after this ordeal?

MEILI: I'm trying to think if...

KING: Nothing was tough?

MEILI: No, not that nothing is tough, but I'm thinking, you know, did having been raped make a difference?

KING: Yes, did it make a difference physically?

MEILI: No. It didn't make a difference physically, and I think one of, you know, one of the difficulties a lot of times after rape is being able to trust people.

But I had been surrounded for a number of years by people, not in relationships, but by all my colleagues, by my family, by my friends, by my therapist, of being able to trust people, and so it didn't, I wasn't scared of trusting a man, and I -- I told Jim that there was no one before him, but I had gone out with a couple of people since the attack, too.

KING: What happened to the boyfriend at the end of the bed?

MEILI: I can't...

KING: Do you know him, Jim? SCHWARZ: I do. And he was actually an ex-boyfriend at the time.

MEILI: He was at our wedding.

KING: Trisha Meili and her husband, Jim Schwarz. The book is "I am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility."


KING: We thank you very much for joining us. We'll be back live Monday night. For all our guests and the group here in Washington, good night.


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