Initially, I was disposed to believe the alleged victim's story. The lack of sensationalistic details, such as obscenities written on the victim's body in dog feces, to my mind distinguished it from the Tawana Brawley hoax. Still fresh in my mind was a post on rape I had recently written, which particularly highlighted the problem of rape in the college environment. (If you need to know more, please read about the Orange County rape case, in which the crime was recorded on video. Three boys repeatedly raped and sodomized the unconscious 16-year-old victim with a lighted cigarette and a pool cue. From the LA Times: "Judge Francisco Briseño said minors and first-time offenders usually are not sent to prison, but in this case the defendants had degraded the victim — laughing and mocking her as she lay unconscious on a pool table — and were slow to show contrition.") In this context, it's very hard for me to imagine what the Duke accuser could possibly hope to gain from making a spurious complaint.
And then there was the Ryan McFadyen e-mail. "i plan on killing the bitches as soon as the[y] walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex." Nice guy.
(UPDATE: Justice 4 Two Sisters refreshes our memory about the Tawana Brawley case. Money quote:
I would submit,however, that there are more differences than similarities to the case if you take the time to sift through them, especially when viewed in the context of the events and racial/political climate of that period in history.
One part of the Wikipedia summary I would like to call our readers' attention to is:
"In the decision, the grand jury noted many inconsistencies in Brawley's story. Among these were the results of the rape kit, which did not indicate sexual assault."
As has been reported and documented, the rape kit in this [Duke] case did indicate sexual assault.
JFTS goes on to review the prevailing climate of the Brawley hoax. Well worth a read.)
But from the outset, a couple of things troubled me about the Duke incident. First was the defending attorneys' confidence that DNA evidence would not harm their clients. Second was the curious method of identifying the suspects: they were white. Apparently the alleged victim could provide no other details - tall or short, stocky or slight, blond or brunet, long or short hair, bearded or clean-shaven or circumcised - about the three men who had violated her for half an hour. In this context, the attention to the assailants' whiteness seems odd and gratuitous.
(UPDATE: DA Nifong hints suspect identified.)
I am not ready to say the woman is lying and I'm not ready to say she is telling the truth. I've seen it reported that an exam found "the woman had signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally"; I'd like to know more about this, and I'd like to see how the defense responds. We still need to learn a lot about the woman's other injuries.
Several of my closest friends have been raped. I will not lightly dismiss a woman's claim that she has been abused. (Contrary to the impression you might get from FrontPage, rapes don't only happen in Europe.) I do not care the slightest bit whether you think the victim was a "lady" or a "person of note" or otherwise. And I've seen enough old-fashioned sexism and racism to know that these things haven't disappeared either. (A number of commentators on this incident have been kind enough to illustrate this point for me.) But I'm not naive enough to believe that every claim of rape - or race bias - is truthful. And it's also true that some individuals who are black, gay, or Jewish, have been known to fabricate incidents of fictitious racism, homophobia, or anti-Semitism for perverse reasons of their own.
So I'm waiting. Right now that's all I can say about this. I'll write more when I know more.
Duke update - April 18