2006-04-18

Duke Lacrosse Rape Case Update - April 18

IMPORTANT UPDATE. I'm still receiveing search hits on this post, so I think it's important that I amend it to reflect my current views. The short version: I no longer believe that the accuser's claims are true.

The following comments, excerpted from another post on this case, explain my thinking on this matter.

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 BriseƱo 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.


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.

Several of my closest friends have been raped, and at least one in a college setting. 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.

That's the end of my update. Here is the origingal post ...

Two Duke lacrosse players have been indicted, arrested, and charged with rape. Other charges included sexual assault and kidnapping. Washington Post:
Two Duke University lacrosse players turned themselves in to police here early Tuesday morning and were booked on charges of raping and kidnapping an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party last month.

Collin H. Finnerty, 19, and Reade William Seligmann, 20, were brought to the Durham County jail complex in handcuffs just before 5 a.m. They appeared before a magistrate, who set bail at $400,000 each.

By 9 a.m., Seligmann, of Essex Fells, N.J., had posted bond and left the complex with his lawyer, jail officials said. Finnerty, of Garden City, N.Y., was in the process of doing the same.

Both men are sophomores at Duke, which has been roiled in recent weeks by the rape allegations of a 27-year-old mother of two who attends a historically black college across town and works as an exotic dancer and stripper.

Indictments were delivered and sealed Monday. NewsObserver:
By Anne Blythe, Benjamin Niolet and Jim Nesbitt, Staff writers

DURHAM — A grand jury Monday indicted two Duke University lacrosse players in connection with allegations of gang rape at a team party.

Tracey Powers, a paralegal for defense attorney Bob Ekstrand, said Monday night that she would not release the names of the players charged in the sealed indictments or what charges they face.

“I haven’t seen the names, but we were told today, and I was given the OK to confirm,” Powers said. Ekstrand represents more than 30 members of the 47-member squad.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens filed a manilla envelope containing the sealed indictments shortly after a grand jury finished its business Monday afternoon. The judge, in an order scrawled on the back of the envelope, cited a state law that allows him to keep the charges secret until a suspect is arrested or goes before a judge. The judge refused to say why he sealed the charges. ...

Today's N&O reports:
Duke University lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were charged today with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping in connection with a reported rape at a Duke lacrosse party, according to George Naylor, director of the Durham County Jail.
Bond was set for each player at $400,000, Naylor said.

District attorney Mike Nifong did not speak publicly about the arrests, but he issued a written statement.

"It had been my hope to be able to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that. The investigation into the identity of the third assailant will continue in the hope that he can also be identified with certainty. It is important that we bring the assailant to justice but also that we lift the cloud of suspicion from those team members who were not involved in the assault," the statement said.

Seligmann, a sophomore from Essex Fells, N.J., and Finnerty, a sophomore from Garden City, N.Y., emerged from a sheriff's deputy vehicle and were led, handcuffed, into the magistrate's office at 4:54 a.m. today.

A date-rape drug? The second woman present at the alleged Duke rape incident said in an interview with NBC 17 News that the alleged victim was not intoxicated when she arrived at the party, but
that the accuser's demeanor changed dramatically after they left the party.
"She was definitely a totally different woman than when I first met her. She definitely was under some sort of substance," the woman said.

A source close to the official investigation of the case has told NBC17 that the accuser might have been drugged at the party.
The second dancer declined to discuss specifics of what happened at the party.

"If I could see the future and would have known what that night would've brought, I would have paid more attention. I wish I had paid more attention to everything that happened around me," she said.

The woman states that her initial accounts of the evening's events - including a 911 call to report racial slurs - were confused because she was trying to conceal the nature of her work as a stripper.

The possiblity of the alleged victim having been "slipped a mickey" or drugged with a date-rape drug might help to explain the various conflicting reports of the subject's apparent intoxication. Justice 4 Two Sisters wonders whether a toxicology test was done on the woman at the hospital.

On a side note, a couple of recent search hits to this blog have turned up the name "Jeanette Rivers" in connection with the case - perhaps as the accuser - but I do not have any direct information about this.

Most news items via Justice 4 Two Sisters, which continues to do an excellent job of covering the case. Keep checking that site (as well as this one) for updates.

UPDATE: NewsObserver: Nifong to pursue third arrest.
District attorney Mike Nifong issued a statement today that indicates a continued investigation into a reported rape by three men at a Duke University lacrosse party in March. Two men were arrested this morning.
"It had been my hope to be able to charge all three of the assailants at the same time, but the evidence available to me at this moment does not permit that. The investigation into the identity of the third assailant will continue in the hope that he can also be identified with certainty. It is important that we bring the assailant to justice but also that we lift the cloud of suspicion from those team members who were not involved in the assault," the statement said.



RELATED:
Duke lacrosse rape accusation
SEE ALSO:
Building a Better Mousetrap - Duke alumnus James Finkelstein is following the case here.


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