Duke Case

Barring any surprising new revelations, I will not be posting further on the Duke lacrosse rape case, except possibly if a trial verdict is announced. Contrary to my initial impressions, I am prepared to say at this point that I believe it's unlikely that the accuser's claims have any merit.

I'm not going to go into the particulars of the case further except to say that you can follow it on the news.

The following comments, excerpted from an earlier post, may help to explain my frame of mind at the time the Duke case appeared, and shed some light on why I was predisposed to believe the accuser's story:
Initially, I was inclined 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 was 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, uncut 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.

There's nothing more for me to add right now. Rapes happen, and many real rapes go unreported; and even among rapes that are reported, justice too often goes unserved. And then again there are false rape claims, which hurt both the men who are falsely accused and the women who will find justice that much more elusive. I leave it to you to decide which group this case belongs to.

FINAL UPDATE: Gay Patriot reports that DNA tests have cleared all of the three lacrosse players accused in the case, and have cast doubt on the alleged victim's denial that she engaged in sexual activity before the purported rape:
DNA testing conducted by a private lab in the Duke lacrosse rape case found genetic material from several males in the accuser's body and her underwear _ but none from any team member, including the three charged with rape, according to a defense motion filed Wednesday.

The motion, signed by attorneys for defendants Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, complained that the information was not disclosed in a report on the testing prosecutors provided earlier this year to the defense.

"This is strong evidence of innocence in a case in which the accuser denied engaging in any sexual activity in the days before the alleged assault, told police she last had consensual sexual intercourse a week before the assault, and claimed that her attackers did not use condoms and ejaculated," the motion read.

I consider the matter closed.