Social & Domestic Issues

The Duke ‘Rape’ Case in Black and White

If the 1931 trial of the Scottsboro Boy was the judicial travesty of our time, it has just taken second place to the case of the alleged rape of an exotic dancer by three Duke University lacrosse players.

The story broke last spring and quickly earned a national profile. Duke, being a mostly white, upper-crust school located in the predominantly black city of Durham, N.C., allowed the case to be characterized in terms of racism. Jesse Jackson appeared in Durham hours after the story broke and awarded the accuser, a black student at North Carolina Central University, a full scholarship. Outrage over this seemingly hateful abuse of power by privileged white males over a black woman spread nationwide. Protests ensued on the Duke campus, and rightly so. Sadly, this outrage occurred before we learned that the case was bogus.

The night began at the house that three lacrosse players were renting on Buchanan Street in Durham. The lacrosse team had decided to have a party and paid $800 to hire two exotic dancers to perform for the night. When the strippers arrived around 11 p.m., the stripper accusing three lacrosse players of rape was already inebriated, having consumed alcohol and muscle relaxers prior to arriving at the party, according to the prosecution’s former star witness, Kim Roberts, the second stripper. Soon the accuser, known as “Precious,” began to stumble as a result of her impaired state, and both girls barricaded themselves in the bathroom at that point. Roberts then left the house and sat in her car for 15 minutes after one of the players asked her if she had any sex toys, leaving the accuser in the bathroom. During those 15 minutes between approximately 12:30 and 12:45 a.m. is when the accuser alleges she was raped.

However, upon entering the car, the accuser told Roberts that she had not been assaulted and persuaded her to accompany the accuser back into the house to "make more money," according to Roberts, who appeared on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. Shortly after, they left the house, with several lacrosse players helping the inebriated dancer into the vehicle. Upon meeting the police at a Kroger grocery store, the accuser told the police she was not raped. It was not until she was examined at Duke University Medical Center, by a non-certified nurse examiner, no less, she reported having been raped after the examiner found DNA in her vagina. No bruises indicating assault were found—that is, until she showed up two days later at UNC Hospital in nearby Chapel Hill.

DNA samples were collected from all 43 white members of the Duke Lacrosse team, which was told that the DNA would determine who the suspect was. Despite the fact that none of the DNA samples from the lacrosse players matched that found on the accuser, the angry mob was determined to build a case. The fact that the accuser reported having consensual sex with her boyfriend prior to arriving at the lacrosse party would explain the semen found by the examiner.

Enter Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. Facing a tough re-election battle as a white district attorney in a majority black city, Nifong needed a way to pander to the black community, and saw this as an ideal way to do that. After failing to identify a suspect in the first lineup of photos of 36 lacrosse players (and not recognizing David Evans), the accuser was then asked to pick the three suspects out of a lineup, which, according to Duke University Law professor James Coleman, was conducted illegally. Nifong showed the accuser one sheet with all 43 of the white team members’ photos on it, in essence saying “pick three and I’ll indict them.” Federal guidelines mandate that the accuser be showed one photo at a time, with filler photos of potential suspects known to have absolutely nothing to do with the case. In this circumstance, “she [the accuser] can’t make a mistake,” Coleman says.

Nifong indicted Colin Finnerty, David Evans (who the accuser claims had a mustache at the time of the rape, explaining her inability to identify Evans in the first lineup), and Reade Seligmann in the case. Seligmann, who has never even been questioned by police, also appeared on "60 Minutes," telling Ed Bradley that he left the party early and offered to provide evidence documenting his alibi, including testimony from a taxicab driver who attests to having Egan in his car at the time of the alleged rape, which Nifong refused to review. If a district attorney engaged in such behavior in the exact same circumstances, but with a white victim and a black lacrosse team, there would be blood in the streets, and lots of it. Nifong, who declined to be interviewed by "60 Minutes," would be investigated for the withholding of exculpatory evidence. If ever there was a botched case headed for trial in a Kangaroo court, this is it.

The premise of the case is that the accuser was so inebriated she couldn’t remember anything, and in that case she could remember anything, including an imaginary rape. This accusation is coming from a woman who has in the past accused a group of three men of rape under similar circumstances, which never went to trial for lack of evidence. Fuming over the fact that he could not fool America into believing pathologic liar Tawana Brawley, Al Sharpton is determined to prosecute some white kids of privilege, if not for any other reason than that he wants to prove Bill Cosby and Juan Williams wrong.

False accusations do not foster sympathy for the accuser. Nor does vote pandering through botched investigations bode well for angry, indignant Democrats seeking re-election. This trial will incite riots in Durham regardless of whether or not the boys are convicted. The fabricated Duke lacrosse case for the furthering of a race war and reverse racism only sets the black community back, and they have no one to blame but “Precious.”


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