Race, rape and the American media
Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts suggested the Duke case would've blown up even worse if the racial tables were turned.
"Imagine if the woman were white and reported being raped by three black members of the basketball team. You'd have to call out the National Guard."
"That hyperbole isn't born out by the facts," said Richmond-area attorney Jeff Everhart.
He's representing one of the four Virginia Union University students indicted last week for allegedly raping a University of Richmond coed on Jan. 21.
All four of the accused are black, two who had ties to the football team. One was a star quarterback as a freshman. All four were considered good kids, attending a historic black university.
The victim is white, an out-of-state student attending the posh University of Richmond, which has Duke-size tuition.
She reportedly left a party at a UR campus apartment with the four. Police say she was assaulted in some woods in western Henrico. Police found her and two of the suspects after neighbors heard a woman's screams.
Alcohol is a factor, as it is in the Duke case. Similarly, DNA tests will play a starring role.
But not a peep about the VUU case in the national media. The indictments played on Page B3 of this paper, while the Duke case started in our Sports pages and eventually made our front page.
We never reported the race of the UR coed because there's no indication race played any role in the alleged attack.
"Race is not a consideration in the case," noted attorney Everhart.
He, too, has noticed the glaring disparity in the news coverage.
So has William Viverette, who is representing another one of the VUU students.
"The two cases are being treated differently, that's for sure," Viverette said. But he's grateful the case, and his client, hasn't been dragged through the national media.
Also pleased is Henrico County's top prosecutor, Wade Kizer.
"When the media takes over a case, it takes on a completely different life," Kizer said. "The best thing for all parties is when that doesn't happen."
Great White Defendants Galore!