Friday, April 21, 2006
Duke Rape Accuser: Crystal Gail Mangum
Crystal Gail Mangum is the 28-year-old (27 at time of Duke incident), African-American women, who accused three Duke lacrosse players of kidnapping, raping, strangling, and robbing her.
Crystal Gail Mangum and another stripper, Kim Roberts, age 31, were hired to dance at a Duke lacrosse party on the evening of Monday, March 13, 2006.
Sometime during the party Ms. Mangum claims she was pulled into a bathroom at the small 3 bedroom house rented by three Duke lacrosse captains at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., Durham. Ms. Mangum said she was then raped for 30 minutes in the bathroom.
Ms. Mangum identified the first names of the three men who attacked her at the lacrosse party. But, she said the players were using different names at different times. The Probable Cause Affidavit, dated March 27, 2006, described the attack as follows:
Shortly after going back into the dwelling the two women were separated. Two males, Adam and Matt pulled the victim into the bathroom. Someone closed the door to the bathroom where she was, and said "sweet heart you can't leave." The victim stated that she tried to leave, but the three males (Adam, Bret, and Matt) forcefully held her legs arms and raped and sexually assaulted her anally, vaginally and orally. The victim stated she was hit, kicked, and strangled during the assault. As she attempted to defend herself, she was overpowered. The victim reported she was sexually assaulted for an approximately 30 minute time period by the three males.
Information regarding her identity soon began circulating on the internet after questions arose about whether she was lying.
Internet sources revealing her identity: freerepublic.com and standyourground.com.
Radio personality, Tom Leykis, identified Ms. Mangum on his nationally syndicated radio show, Friday afternoon, April 21st.
On May 15th, MSNBC Host Tucker Carlson said her first name on his show, The Situation with Tucker Carlson.
Her identity was also easily deduced from information provided in news reports. Matt Drudge said Ms. Mangum's name on his Sunday, April 23rd, radio show.
Facts about Crystal Gail Mangum:
She is 28-years-old, her birthday is July 16, 1978.
She is the youngest of three children raised in a working-class Durham neighborhood.
Ms. Mangum graduated from Hillside High School, Durham, N.C. in 1996.
She joined the Navy in the fall of 1996 - signing up for an eight-year enlistment -- two years of active duty followed by six years in the reserves.
Ms. Mangum began active duty in the summer of 1997 and was sent to school in Dam Neck, Va., near Virginia Beach. She trained for a job operating radios and navigation equipment.
She married a man 14 years her senior in the fall of 1997. His name is Kenneth Nathanial McNeill. They were married for 17 months. She taught him how to read and write. He said:
"She wanted to see the world. The only thing I knew to tell her was to join the Navy."
"Our honeymoon was driving out to California"
Her parents are Mary and Travis Mangum. Travis Mangum is a retired truck driver.
She and her husband moved to Concord, Calif., where Mangum was assigned to the USS Mount Hood, an ammunition ship. Reportedly:
She was often away at sea for days or weeks, and tensions flared in the marriage, her former husband said.
"She was young," he said.
Along the way, the woman became interested in another sailor, a man who would later father her children, the former husband said. The two separated as the new relationship began, he said. Six months later, she was discharged from the service (in 1998).
A U.S. Navy spokesman would not release the reason for the discharge, though records indicate it came less than nine months before she had her first child, a boy, named after his father.
Ms. Mangum is divorced with three children. She went to court to force the children's father to pay child support.
In 2003, the children's father was ordered by a Durham court to have a portion of his paycheck, about $400 a month, withheld for child support, court records show. He was also ordered to pay more than $2,700 in public assistance to the children.
She had worked at a nursing facility and on an assembly line making catalytic reducers at $10.50 per hour.
Ms. Mangum was arrested in June 2002 after she got drunk, stole a car at a strip club, and lead police on a reckless high-speed chase. This incident resulted in the following charges:
Felonious Assault with a Deadly Weapon on Police Officer, O2-CRS-49961
Felonious Larceny and Felonious Possession of Stolen Vehicle charges, 02-CRS-49955
Felonious Speeding to Elude Arrest, Driving while Impaired (.19 Blood Alcohol Content) and Driving while License Revoked, 02-CRS-49956
Driving Left of Center, 02-CR-49958
Failure to Heed Blue Light and Siren and Reckless Driving in Wanton Disregard to Rights or Safety of Others, 02-CR-49959
Driving the Wrong Way on Dual Lane Highway and Open Container After Consuming Alcohol, 02-CR-49960
two counts of Injury to Personal Property, 02-CR-49962-63
Resisting a Public Officer, 02-CR-49964
She plead guilty to four misdemeanors in May 2003: Speeding to elude arrest, assault against a government official, DWI level 3, and larceny. She was required to serve three consecutive weekends in jail and placed on two years' probation.
Ms. Mangum paid her legal bills and $4,200 in restitution and court fees from the May 2003 convictions.
She has had three driving license suspensions.
She went to Durham Technical Community College and graduated in 2004 with an associate degree.
Ms. Mangum is a registered Democratic voter.
She was a full-time, second-year student at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black college across town from Duke, at the time of the incident. Ms. Mangum is a police psychology student with a 3.0 (B) grade average.
Ms. Mangum was working for a local escort service, Bunny Hole Entertainment, when she went to the Duke Lacrosse party. Ms. Mangum told The News & Observer she had worked for the escort service for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week.
"It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule.
Ms. Mangum also told The News & Observer that the Duke party was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group.
Regarding her career as a stripper the New York Times reported:
She worked flexible hours at Platinum Pleasures, a strip club, and for Angel’s Escorts. She was a stripper, not a prostitute, she later told the police. She told them that "she had been to one event in the past where she thought a male at the party was nice, so after the party they went out and had consensual sexual relations," but just that once.
Ms. Mangum went to the Duke Lacrosse party without a chaperone or security and was dressed only in her revealing dance outfit - a negligee and shiny white strappy high heels. Professional "exotic dance" performers say both actions are considered unprofessional.
Travis Mangum went to Duke University Medical Center the morning following the incident, but was unable to see his daughter. Ms. Mangum told a News & Observer reporter on Friday, March 24th:
"My father came to see me in the hospital," she said. "I knew if I didn't report it that he would have that hurt forever, knowing that someone hurt his baby and got away with it."
Ms. Mangum did not tell her father she had been sexually assaulted. He learned of that from a reporter.
The father of the woman who has accused members of the Duke lacrosse team of sexually assaulting her said he didn't find out that his daughter was the reported victim - and that she is an exotic dancer - until a reporter visited his house.
The retired trucker who lives in Durham said he saw his daughter the day after the reported attack, but she didn't say anything was wrong. She even left her car at the house for several days because he said she didn't want to drive it.
Her father, a quiet man who tinkers on cars as a hobby, said he saw news reports about the attack.
"I didn't know it was my daughter," he said.
Ms. Mangum's father, Travis Mangum seems somewhat overwhelmed by all of the attention his daughter's case has received. The Washington Post, which interviewed him, said: "he seemed dazed in the heat of the frenzy."
He has said many contradictory statements regarding the case and his daughter - her willingness or non-willingness to testify.
“She’s not crazy,” said her father, responding to what he says has become a smear campaign to damage his daughter’s credibility. “She takes her children to school and picks them up. She works. She goes to school herself.”
Megyn Kendall of Fox News reported that she spoke to the accuser's father who relayed to her that his daughter told him she was sodomized with a broomstick and isn't certain of the third player's identity.
Mr. Mangum said in an interview on June 8, 2006, that Ms. Mangum was seeing a psychiatrist and was in no condition to testify. "I don't know how long it'll be before she gets back in her right frame of mind," he said. "It could be years."
Her parent’s home is located in a working-class neighborhood across the street from one of the three churches the family attends regularly. It is two miles from the NCCU campus. Ms. Mangum was living near her parents home with her two children prior to the Duke incident.
Ms. Mangum had a nervous breadkdown in 2005.
The mother of the alleged victim told ESSENCE magazine that her daughter did go away to a hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, for about a week last year, where she was treated for a “nervous breakdown.” While the accuser’s parents did not say they knew what brought on the breakdown, they did say that their daughter was upset about mounting bills.
Ms. Mangum reported on August 18, 1996, that she was raped by three men three years prior when she was 14 in Creedmoor, N.C. Her parents said that their daughter was attacked by the boy she was dating at the time and two of his friends. The three allegedly held her against her will in a house, raped her and threatened to kill her. The case was never investigated and the men were not interviewed.
The mother also told ESSENCE that when her daughter was 17 or 18, she was raped by several men, one of whom was someone she knew. The attack took place in the town of Creedmoor, about 15 miles northeast of Durham, and was a “set up,” according to the accuser’s mother. Although other family members confirmed that the alleged victim reported the incident to police in that jurisdiction, the young woman declined to pursue the case, relatives say out of fear for her safety.
The woman's parents told NBC17 that their daughter was attacked by the boy she was dating at the time and two of his friends. The three allegedly held her against her will in a house, raped her and threatened to kill her.
Ms. Mangum's former husband, Kenneth Nathanial McNeill, told ABC News that he believed she had been raped in 1993. She and McNeill were engaged at the time when the police report was filed.
he urged her to make the report to Creedmoor police to help her overcome the trauma.
"I wanted them to pay for what they did," said McNeil, who was then engaged to the woman.
Regarding Creedmoor, Kenneth McNeill, said:
before he married the accuser in 1997, the woman told him about rape and torture at the hands of a previous boyfriend, a man who was at least seven years older than she.
The accuser was in high school when she met the man, McNeil said. He was controlling, jealous and abusive, McNeil said. He would beat her, and she would hide the bruises from her parents.
On a day in June 1993, the man offered up his young girlfriend's body to his friends, McNeil said she told him. "He let his boys take turns," McNeil said.
She never pursued the Creedmoor case, CNN reported:
The woman identified her attackers as black males, giving police names and addresses.
The police officer who interviewed the woman advised her to "write a chronological-order statement of the incidents and occurrences that had taken place and return the statement for investigative purposes," the report states.
The report concludes: "No further information."
After the Creedmoor incident, Ms. Mangum lost a tremendous amount of weight and became suicidal, so her parents took her to see a psychiatrist, her father said.
She filed a complaint in 1998, in which she accused her then-husband, Kenneth Nathanial McNeill, of threatening to kill her. She later failed to appear at a court hearing on the complaint, which was dismissed. From a defense motion for Reade Seligmann:
On June 16, 1998, she state (sic) under oath that her husband, Kenneth Nathanial McNeill, took her into the wood (sic) and threatened to kill her. On June 23, 1998, she failed to appear at at hearing to prove her allegations and the matter was dismissed. Mr. McNeill has informed our Investigator that her allegations were false. See attached Incident/Investigation Report
Ms. Mangum has reportedly been forced into virtual hiding after photos of her from the Duke Lacrosse party were aired on television. Threats from Duke supporters have forced her to stay with different friends almost every night.
She even considered pulling the plug after the case turned into a racial pressure cooker, her cousin said.
"At one point, she wanted to just drop the charges," said the cousin, who gave her name as Jackie. "But as a family, we told her to stand her ground."
Cousin Jakki a.k.a. Jackie said, [Jackie is also known as Clyde Lee Yancy] there is no way her cousin would have made up the story to get a monetary settlement.
"I think she'd rather have her life back than be concerned with money," Jackie said.
Her ex-husband said: "She doesn’t know who to trust. That’s why she’s running."
Amid the flurry of personal attacks on her character, the alleged victim seems to be moving farther away from her own family, her relatives have said. Racing back and forth to undisclosed locations with her two small children in tow, the young woman has not spoken to anyone from the press and will only call her parents. Sometimes, said the aunt, she doesn’t even talk to her mother and father when she calls, but simply blurts out, "I’m okay, Mama," before quickly hanging up.
Ms. Mangum has a boyfriend. His name is Matthew Murchison. He has a criminal record - see NC records here. His seminal DNA was found in her from vaginal swabs done the morning of March 14th at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) at the start of the investigation. She also had sex with two other men who drove her in the days prior to the alleged incident. Fox News reported:
Defense sources also say the accuser admitted to having had sexual intercourse with at least three men around the time of the alleged attack. According to those sources, when investigators questioned her after DNA tests on the semen found inside her body did not match any of the Duke players, the accuser gave police the name of her boyfriend and two men who drove her to her dancing engagements.
Her two drivers are Jarriel Johnson of Raleigh, and Brian Taylor of Durham. Tne News & Observer reported:
Her driver, Jarriel Johnson of Raleigh, gave police a handwritten sworn statement on April 6 that detailed his time with her.
Two days before the party, Johnson said he drove the woman to an hourlong appointment at the Holiday Inn Express in Wakefield. At 11 p.m., Johnson said, he drove her to Platinum, a strip club in Hillsborough. The woman twice asked him to stay another hour, he wrote. At 4:30 a.m., Johnson said, he drove her to an hourlong job at the Millennium Hotel near Duke University.
The next night, Johnson said, he drove her to Raleigh "to find this guy she met." They checked into a hotel near Lane Street, bought Chinese food and waited for the man to call. Johnson said he left at midnight. When he came back the next morning, Johnson said, he waited in his car while the accuser performed for an older man in the hotel room.
Later that day, Johnson said, he was taking the accuser to her parents' house in Durham when she asked him to stop so she could go to the bathroom. "She got out of the car and started walking down Creedmoor Rd.," Johnson wrote. "I pulled my car over and got out to chase her down. She told me to leave her alone."
Johnson said he asked several times before she climbed back in the car. The two reached Johnson's home about 4:30 p.m.
Johnson said he wasn't able to drive that evening; the accuser told Johnson that another friend, Brian Taylor of Durham, would drive her to a bachelor party in Durham, the lacrosse party.
Mr. Johnson also told investigators he had sex with Ms. Mangum, though he said that took place more than a week before the party.
Ms. Mangum performed at strip clubs. Brian Taylor told The News & Observer:
Taylor had known for a while that [Ms. Mangum] was a dancer. He and a male friend had watched her perform at clubs in Smithfield and Hillsborough.
Ms. Mangum used the alias "Precious" at the Duke lacrosse party. She may have also used other aliases.
More information about Crystal Gail Mangum's 2002 arrest and 2003 convictions -
Ms. Mangum has four misdemeanor convictions:
SPEEDING ELUDE ARREST OR/ATTEM (PRINCIPAL)
ASSAULT/THR AGNST GOVERNMNT (PRINCIPAL)
DWI LEVEL 3 (PRINCIPAL)
Crystal G. Mangum - North Carolina Department of Correction conviction records - May 8, 2003.
Deputy John Carroll's police report of Crystal Mangum's 2002 arrest:
The suspect was driving a blue taxi cab [which she had stolen at a topless club]. She was completely left of center within my sight without any lights on the vehicle. She then crossed back right and off the road into the shoulder and turning up dirt. [After traveling 70mph in a 55mph zone,] the suspect was then traveling south in the northbound lane . . . She traveled east until it came to a dead end. She then attempted to turn left and run through a fence but was unable to and it appeared that she was not going to go any further. I put my vehicle in park and exited it, and approached the suspect—telling her to turn the car off and get out.
When she saw me approach, she was laughing and put the vehicle in reverse and backed across the road and into the woods. It appeared that she was stuck. I had to run around my vehicle to get back to the driver’s side door, and as I began to approach the vehicle she put it in drive and drove towards me. I jumped out of the way to the right and she missed me. The suspect then struck the right rear quarter of my patrol vehicle . . . and then proceeded west on Briar Creek Parkway, almost striking Deputy Goss in his patrol vehicle.
[Police pursed Mangum and eventually boxed in her vehicle]
... was boxed in. Deputy Goss and I approached the vehicle with our guns drawn, pointing at the suspect, giving verbal commands to exit the car. She refused until we were directly next to the car.
She then opened the door and would not get out, with her hand on the steering wheel and leaning out to the rear of the car. She finally got out of the car and laid down on the ground. She was taken into custody at that time. I put her in the back seat of my vehicle. She kept attempting to lay down but was advised to sit up. She was given an alcosensor and submitted, giving a 0.19 reading, and at the same time, while getting all the information together, the suspect passed out and was unresponsive.
News reports of Mangum's 2002 arrest:
A Durham County Sheriff's Office report -- reviewed four years ago by Sgt. T.H. McCrae and recently obtained by The Herald-Sun -- provides details of the 2002 car chase involving Ms Mangum:
The incident began at a topless dance club [Diamond Girls] while the woman was performing for a taxi driver, McCrae wrote.
"As she was feeling him up and putting her hands in his pockets she removed the keys to his taxi cab, without him knowing," the officer said. "He [the cabbie] told her he would drive her home but needed to go to the restroom first. While in the restroom he was advised that she was driving off in his taxi cab."
McCrae said he chased the woman at speeds up to 70 mph in a 55-mph zone until she finally stopped.
"As I began to approach the vehicle she put it in drive and drove towards me," McCrae added. "I jumped out of the way to the right and she missed me. The suspect then struck the right rear quarter of my patrol vehicle."
Another chase ensued, but the woman finally was apprehended after having a flat tire, according to McCrae.
The officer said she registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19 on a portable sensing device -- more than double North Carolina's 0.08 legal threshold for impairment.
And while being questioned, the dancer "passed out and was unresponsive," McCrae said.
She was taken to the emergency room at Duke University Hospital, McCrae's report indicated.
More details of Crystal Gail Mangum's 2002 arrest and resulting conviction(s):
The episode started at the Diamond Girls club on Angier Avenue in Durham. According to Larry W. Jones, the owner of Diamond Girls, the woman appeared at the club that night and "tried out," giving lap dances to a few men.
Jones said the manager at the time did not offer the woman a job because she was "acting funny."
She started dancing for a taxi driver, whom she asked for a ride, according to a report from the Durham County Sheriff's Office. While dancing, she took the keys from the driver's pocket without his knowledge and, minutes later, drove off in his taxi.
The cab driver called 911 and a sheriff's deputy responded and saw the blue 1992 Chevrolet Caprice heading east on Angier Avenue near Page Road. The headlights were off and the woman was driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the deputy's report.
The woman sped up to pass the officer, and he began to chase the taxi, which ran a stop sign and veered across the road, weaving across a grass median, onto the shoulder and back. The car sped from Angier Avenue onto U.S. 70, the report said.
According to the report, the woman drove down the center of the highway, a 55 mph zone, at 70 mph, heading into Raleigh. She kept speeding, drove the wrong way down Brier Creek Parkway and turned into a dead end, where she tried to drive the taxi through a fence.
The sheriff's deputy said he got out of his car and told the woman to turn off the car. She laughed, backed up the car, then drove forward again and nearly hit the deputy, the report said.
The taxi slammed into the deputy's car and kept going, turning back onto Brier Creek Parkway into oncoming traffic, the report said. Another deputy continued to chase her until the taxi got a flat tire. Officers boxed in the car, pulled the woman out and arrested her.
Her blood alcohol level was 0.19, according to court records, more than twice the legal limit to drive in North Carolina.
The woman was charged with driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license, felony speeding to elude arrest, felony assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, and felony larceny of a motor vehicle. Court documents and her criminal and driving records show that her driver's license had been revoked before the incident, but they do not indicate why.
Under a deal with prosecutors, she pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors in the car chase: larceny, speeding to elude arrest, assault on a government official and DWI, according to court records. She was required to serve three consecutive weekends in jail and was placed on two years' probation. She paid restitution and court costs, and completed her probation.
Woody Vann, a Durham lawyer who defended the woman, said recently that when the case went to court in 2003, he was ready to present 10 character witnesses for his client. She struck him as responsible because she admitted wrongdoing in the case, he said.
Vann said that the allegations that his former client, Ms. Mangum, was trying to hit the sheriff's deputy were in error, and that she was merely trying to turn around.
How the story of Ms. Mangum's arrest was reported in June 2002:
DURHAM (6/22/02) -- A 23-year-old woman was arrested Friday on charges she was driving a stolen taxi and tried to run over a deputy who was pursuing her on DWI, speeding and other offenses.
Crystal Gail Mangum of 211 Charles St. faces 10 charges, including driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license, eluding police, reckless driving, failure to heed a siren and lights, assault on an officer and larceny of a motor vehicle, warrants say.
At 12:42 p.m. Friday, deputy J.P. Carroll spotted the stolen cab at Angier Avenue and Page Road and turned on his lights and siren. The driver fled, arrest warrants say. The chase led onto U.S. 70, where speeds reached 70 mph. After the car traveled into a wooded area, warrants say, Carroll approached, but the taxi driver drove toward him. He jumped away, bumping his vehicle.
Further information wasn't available, but warrants say both cars sustained damage. Mangum, jailed on $ 75,000 bail, is to appear today in District Court.
update Jan 4, 2007:
Crystal Gail Mangum gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007 at UNC Hospitals. The baby was delivered by a Cesarean section.
Duke Lacrosse Accuser Gives Birth to Baby Girl [WRAL, Jan. 4, 2007]
Duke Lacrosse Accuser Gives Birth to Baby Girl [Fox News, Jan 4, 2007]
The last major update of this profile of Ms. Mangum was on Oct. 24, 2006. The yearbook photo was added in December 2006, after it was first published on the Crystal Mess blog. Given the many new developments in the Duke case: such as the dropping of the rape charges, the birth of Ms. Mangum's daughter, and the status of the NC State Bar case against Mike Nifong check the Johnsville News front page for developments. Additional information about Ms. Mangum can be found at Wikipedia.
Update March 24, 2007: The March 16, 2006 police photo of Ms. Mangum was published by KC Johnson on Mar. 24th. See: A Thousand Words.
Update April 11, 2007: Fox News quickly identified the false accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, after the NC Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann are completely innocent. See: Crystal Gail Mangum: Profile of the Duke Rape Accuser
Updated April 12, 2007: The New York Post published Ms. Mangum's 2003 mugshot on the front page with the headline: The Duke Liar.
Updated April 13, 2007:
The News & Observer published a profile of Ms. Mangum that reviewed her struggle with mental illness and alcohol: Mangum's life: conflict, contradictions
One of the things I've heard is that she got a hold of a publistist to see if she could sell her story and she wanted to go ahead with a civil trial to
Let's look at some p.c. hyprocrisy:
Tricia Dowd, whose son, a lacrosse player, graduated from Duke last year, recounted her experience at the NCCU forum (yes, she actually went): “Maybe I’m naïve. I didn’t know there was so much hate in the world.”
And Nona Farahnik, who lived in the same dorm as Reade and Collin, lamented how “they became a perfect example of all the injustices in society, except in their case, justice went out the door. And the same people usually championing basic human rights were so intent on denying it to them.”
Peter Applebome lamented that—unlike the situation with Don Imus, who was defended by no one for his remark about the Rutgers women’s basketball team and ultimately was fired—there will be no “apologies from those in academia (particularly at Duke), the news media, and civil rights and women’s rights organizations who were so intoxicated by the story of bad white boys that they missed the real outrage: how prosecutors can railroad innocent people, nearly all of them without the students’ resources or abilities to fight back.”
Durham in wonderland
K.C. Johnson runs the abovementioned blog and wrote the following to ABC news about it:
By K.C. JOHNSON
April 15, 2007 — Last week, in an all-but-unprecedented event in American legal history, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper publicly dismissed all charges against three former Duke lacrosse players. He cited not insufficient evidence, but instead their absolute innocence.
The attorney general declared that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans were victims of a false accuser and a "rogue prosecutor," and that "no credible evidence" existed to sustain the accuser's myriad, mutually contradictory, allegations.
The reaction from some major news organizations to this announcement was startling. While not challenging Cooper's actions, the Boston Globe labeled Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty "louts." Columnist Dan Shanoff called them "douchebags." The Washington Post clucked that the three players "were not paragons of virtue," and that "some of the players — though not necessarily the three accused students — made racially derogatory remarks to the accuser and the other dancer who accompanied her." (Actually, the second dancer, Kim Roberts, unequivocally stated that Evans said nothing derogatory to her, while Seligmann and Finnerty both proved they had left the party well before the racially charged argument occurred.)
"Nightline" co-host Terry Moran told people not to "feel sorry for the Dukies," noting that "they are very differently situated in life from, say, the young women of the Rutgers University women's basketball team," and, "there are many, many cases of prosecutorial misconduct across our country every year."
Such comments are cold-hearted at best and shameless at worst. Take the experience of the first two players against whom Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong brought indictments, Seligmann and Finnerty.
Sophomores, they were immediately suspended from school. Their mugshots appeared on the cover of Newsweek under the guilt-implying headline "Sex, Lies, and Duke." Eighty-eight professors from their own institution signed an April statement asserting that something "happened" to the accuser and saying "thank you" to protesters who carried signs reading "Castrate." They were compared to Hitler by one cable TV commentator, who also speculated that their parents might have sexually abused them.
In a May court appearance, Seligmann received death threats from members of the New Black Panthers. A July Washington Post column mocked the tall, lanky Finnerty — accurately described as a "gentle giant" by one of his friends — as a "disgusting" person who took "fun in tormenting the innocent."
In an April 20, 2006, appearance before the local Chamber of Commerce, Duke president Richard Brodhead said, "If they didn't do it, whatever they did is bad enough."
What, exactly, did Seligmann and Finnerty do? They attended a spring break party they had no role in organizing and they drank some beer. That's enough to be condemned as "louts" or "douchebags" or racists?
At this stage, few people would deny that Seligmann and Finnerty were subjected to the highest-profile case of prosecutorial misconduct in modern American history. But they also experienced months of public assaults on their character from journalists or professors for whom their case provided an opportunity too tempting not to exploit.
As New York Times columnist Peter Applebome recently asked, "How did college kids with no shortage of character witnesses become such a free-fire zone for the correct thinkers in academia, the news media and the socially conscious left?"
It's worth remembering, finally, that while Evans has graduated, Seligmann and Finnerty — good students and talented Division I athletes — continue to reap the fruits of Nifong's misconduct. For reasons of personal safety, if nothing else, they cannot return to a city where Nifong remains chief prosecutor or to a University where so many prominent people vilified them. So, as of now, neither knows where they will attend school next year.
Their uncertain situation presents an opportunity for academic leaders to help rectify the injustice the two have experienced at the hands of the media and professors at Duke.
Seligmann and Finnerty are two students who have borne an unimaginable burden over the past year, but retained faith that justice would prevail. Both spent their time away from school working with high school students; both have publicly expressed hope that their case will trigger reforms in the North Carolina criminal justice system to protect wrongfully accused people in the future.
Administrators at Ivy League schools or institutions with top lacrosse programs should be desperate to have people like Seligmann or Finnerty as among their student body. Hopefully, two schools will have the courage to stand up to political correctness and help bring closure to this case.
K.C. Johnson was an ABC News consultant on the Duke Lacrosse case and is a professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is writing a book about the Duke case and ran one of the most popular blogs on the case — Durham-In-Wonderland.