Thursday, June 29, 2006

Reasonable doubt in Duke rape case

Ruth Marcus:

At the start, I presumed they were guilty. The rape charges against three members of the Duke lacrosse team sounded like a plausible case of Jocks Gone Wild. It wasn't hard to imagine that a bunch of rowdy, hard-drinking players could have crossed the line from watching a paid dancer to sexually assaulting her.

After all, these were students who had plunked down $800 for a pair of strippers and were angry that their cash had bought only a few minutes of bare flesh. The show was called off when one player asked about sex toys and "said he would use the broomstick on us," according to the second dancer.

As the two women drove off, a neighbor reported hearing one of the partygoers yell a racial insult at the African American dancers: "Hey . . . thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt." Later that night, another teammate wrote a disgusting e-mail about plans to kill and skin "some strippers." One of the accused, Collin Finnerty, is to stand trial here next month in an incident in which he and two high school lacrosse buddies allegedly taunted a man, saying he was gay, and then beat him.

These don't sound like young men you'd want your daughter to date.

But the more evidence that has emerged in the case, the more it appears that there is way more than reasonable doubt that the three accused committed rape.

The paucity of physical evidence; the accuser's prior unsubstantiated rape charge; her changing stories that night; sloppy and unreliable identification procedures -- any of these alone, and certainly all of them together, make it hard to understand why the prosecution is going forward and impossible to imagine that it could win a conviction.

True, much of the evidence that's emerged so far has been selectively released by defense lawyers. But after a review of court filings and other material, here's what makes me doubtful:

There's almost no physical evidence. Two rounds of DNA testing failed to produce any evidence of semen from Duke players -- as might have been expected, given the accusation that the woman was orally, vaginally and anally penetrated, along with being choked, beaten and kicked. (DNA from one of the students, David Evans, may match material taken from the accuser's fake fingernail.) Indeed, although the prosecutor claimed the medical report found injuries consistent with sexual assault, the nurse-in-training who examined the woman found only swelling of the vaginal walls -- something that might be explained by the fact that the woman reported using a vibrator as she performed for a couple hours earlier.

The second dancer told police that the rape charges were a "crock" and that she and the accuser had been apart for only five minutes at the party.

The accuser made an earlier, seemingly unsubstantiated allegation of being the victim of a gang rape. She said she was attacked by three men in 1993, when she was 14, but didn't file a police report until three years later. The matter was dropped after she failed to provide a statement to the investigating officer.

She gave six different accounts of what happened the night of the incident: She did not originally mention rape to the police when they found her in a car outside a grocery store; raised the rape allegation after being taken to a substance abuse facility; later said that "no one forced her to have sex"; and gave accounts of the alleged incident that differed in various ways, including the number of attackers and the type of assault.

It's true, and totally understandable, that rape victims often provide inconsistent accounts. But even if a sexual assault did occur in this case, there's ample reason to question whether the right students were charged. The accuser said her attackers were named "Bret, Adam and Matt"; the indicted students are Reade, Collin and David.

Reade Seligmann's lawyer has presented evidence that during the post-midnight time frame in which the attack allegedly occurred, Seligmann called his girlfriend six times and another person twice (12:05 to 12:14); was picked up by a cab (12:19); used an ATM (12:24) and returned to his dorm (12:45). The lawyer tried to present this evidence to the prosecutor before the indictment but was rebuffed.

In contravention of accepted practice, the photographs shown to the accuser included only members of the lacrosse team, no similar-looking "fillers." According to papers filed by David Evans's lawyer, the accuser failed to identify him in a photo lineup eight days after the party. In another test, three weeks after the incident, she selected his photo, telling investigators, "He looks like one of the guys who assaulted me, sort of." She said that she was "about 90 percent" certain but that the attacker had a mustache; Evans's lawyer says he's never had a mustache.

Perhaps there are facts yet to emerge to support Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's continuing certitude that a rape occurred -- though the confluence of Nifong's political interests and the prosecution is itself another reason for discomfort. He brought the first charges just before a primary in which the black vote played a key role.

America's worst district attorney

From Duke Rape Case to Duke Rape Hoax

The Duke Case: The Damage and the Real Villains

Abusive Nifong


At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is more than reasonable doubt that the boys are innocent. There is sufficient evidence to charge the stripper/hooker for making a false claim, and indicting Nifong for malicious prosecution.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine yourself 18 years old, first time away from home, playing on the Duke lacrosse team. A stripper/hooker, who is on probation for grand larceny and attempted murder of a police officer, creates a “fantastic lie” to avoid being arrested and violating her parole. The District DA Mike Nifong sees this as an election opportunity, so he grants over 70 interviews (more than 50 hours of airtime) where he proclaims in the national media that “These boys as hooligans”, “That he has no doubt they raped her” , “That the DNA will prove guilty from the innocent”, “the boys are stone walling”, “That the stripper/hooker had medical evidence consistent with rape,” That the a rape drug was used”, “That the stripper was clawing at fighting and was severely beaten, punched, and kicked by the three boys.”

Thus: daily protests were held against you as every racist and sexist political wishing to take advantage of the media circus descended onto Duke to attack you. Your picture, name, and home address posted on wanted posters all over their school and community. You’re reputation destroyed as the DA, political groups, and 88 professors from your own school humiliate and insist that you raped the stripper/hooker and should just admit it.

To take apart Nifongs lies:

These boys as hooligans,
These boys aren’t hooligans, the cooperated and trusted the DA to conduct a professional investigation. They didn’t have to consent to the DNA testing, but they did so because they knew that no rape took place and DNA testing would be the fastest way to prove it, but they didn’t count on unscrupulous behavior from a DA wanting to use the false accusations against them as a political springboard.

That he has no doubt they raped her,
An investigator should not assume guilt or innocence at the beginning or during an investigation. He should have waited for all the evidence, and for the investigation to be concluded. We live in a society unforgiving of sex offenders, and women who make false claims are often protected by feminist “victims advocate” groups, so before destroying a young boy’s reputation, the officials involved should make sure the claim is credible.

It is impossible that a crime scene with three drunk men in a small enclosed room with a fighting and clawing woman being orally, virginally, and anally penetrated not leave any DNA evidence of urine, blood, vaginal fluid, sweat, fecal matter, scat smears, saliva, tears, or semen... especially if condoms were used. How would they take off the condoms during all this chaos without spilling, smearing, or touching the content inside or outside of the condom?

That the DNA will prove guilty from the innocent,
Although there is no doubt that if the DNA results came back positive, the DA would be singing a different tune praisng DNA, since the DNA came back negative, the DA immediately went to “spin” this information and tried to “muddy” its significance. He downplayed the significance of no DNA link to the lacrosse boys. He stated 70% of rape convictions is done without DNA testing, but what he failed to mention that the possibility of no DNA in a gang rape is highly unlikely, and that in the past decades 30% to 35% of innocent men convicted of rape have been exonerated once DNA testing was conducted and found that they were the wrong men identified.

The boys are stone walling
These boys didn’t stonewall, these boys cooperated from the beginning. The boys who lived in the house allowed the house to be searched, went willingly to the police department to be questions for over 6 hours in separate rooms, and their stories matched each others and the evidence found. Evans identified all the players at the party, all boys submitted to DNA testing and photos which we now know were not used to find the truth, but used against them. All six line ups only used Lacrosse players to guarantee only lacrosse players would be chosen, thus to avoid “accidentally” finding out that the stripper was lying.

That the stripper/hooker had medical evidence consistent with rape
When investigators questioned the stripper after DNA tests on the semen found inside her vagina and rectum didn’t match any of the Duke players, the stripper admitted to having had sex with at least three men around the time of the alleged rape. The stripper named her boyfriend and two men who drove her to Duke. She also confessed to using a vibrating sex toy vaginally during a performance, prior to the Duke party, for a man and woman.

The rape exam revealed that the stripper had vaginal swelling and a scrape on her knee and scratches on her ankle, but no signs of a violent or assault of any kind.

The boys who submitted to having their bodies photographed had no signs of being scratched. The fake fingernails had no DNA from the boys found under the nails, but DNA from several other people were found.

That the a rape drug was used
No toxicity test was done, the DA created the rumor of a date rape drug being used to further slander these boys.


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