Crystal Gail Mangum and the Duke rape hoax
Crystal Gail Mangum's life has been marked by a Kudzu-like thicket of ups and downs. After graduating from Hillside High School in Durham, she spent two years in the Navy as a radio operator. She married twice, taught her first husband how to read, worked for a while in a nursing facility, and is now the single mother of two.
In 1996, she filed a complaint that she had been raped – but she didn't get around to filing the police report until three years later. And once the allegation had been made, she didn't bother to complete the paperwork. Sorry fellas, nothing personal.
In 2002, Mangum stole a car and and took deputies on a high-speed chase, which eventually landed her in jail with a criminal record. Other details of her life have been extensively documented.
Later Mangum enrolled at North Carolina Central University, a predominantly black college. To supplement her income, she worked as an exotic dancer and for an escort service locally known as Bunny Hole Entertainment.
Thanks to time-stamped photographs, eyewitness accounts, police reports, forensic examinations, and dogged media interest, the timeline and events surrounding the case are now well-documented.
Over the weekend of March 10-12, 2006 Crystal Gail Mangum indulged in sexual hijinks with four different men. On Monday March 13, she went to a hotel room and participated in an X-rated escapade with a couple. Any of these events could have produced the minor bruises, cuts, and vaginal injuries that Ms. Mangum later claimed were caused by the Duke lacrosse players.
Later that evening, Mangum and fellow-stripper Kim Pittman (aka "Nikki") arrived at a run-down house near the Duke University campus in Durham, each knowing they would be paid $400 for a one-hour set. The two were together for the entire time, except for a five-minute period when Mangum went to the bathroom. When later asked about Mangum's rape allegation, Pittman called it a "crock."
The police officer who first saw Mangum described her as "passed-out drunk." She first claimed she had been raped. Then the officer reported she said "no one forced her to have sex." A few minutes later she came back to her original claim – not totally surprising for someone who is well-juiced and wants to avoid a charge of public drunkedness.
At first she said she had been raped by 20 men, then she decided the number was actually five, and finally settled on three. But the photographs revealed her bruises were there before the alleged rape occurred. And the hospital sexual assault nurse did not find any evidence of sexual assault.
The DNA tests failed to produce any link to the lacrosse players. A second DNA analysis did implicate Mangum's boyfriend, however.
When asked about the exculpatory DNA tests, District Attorney Michael Nifong nonsensically replied, "It doesn't mean nothing happened, it just means nothing was left behind."
Nifong's case has more holes than the frayed netting of a goalie's lacrosse stick. Maybe that's why Nifong speculated the alleged rape may have been a hate crime, falsely hinted at the use of a "date-rape" drug, withheld key documents from defense lawyers, and unconscionably delayed the trial until next Spring.
Legal commentators have excoriated Nifong for his unprofessional and reckless handling of the case. But by skillfully playing the race card, Nifong did manage to come out on top during the May Democratic primary.
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