Tags: Try | Rape | Case | Court | Not

Try Rape Case in Court, Not on TV

Wednesday, 19 April 2006 12:00 AM

The arrest this morning of two Duke lacrosse players, and the continued investigation of a third, makes clear that this year's high-profile rape case is not going away.

If the woman is telling any part of the truth, she went through a terrible assault once, and will almost certainly go through another one in the courtroom. But at least there are rules of evidence in the courtroom. What is absolutely inexcusable is the assault that she has been undergoing in the press.

This case, now that arrests have been made, should be tried in a court of law, not in the public arena, and those who care about Duke should hold their fire instead of hiring their own gunslinger to join the carnage.

For those who haven't followed it, the case arises out of a party held at the home of the three Duke lacrosse co-captains, attended by team members only, to which two exotic dancers were brought in as "entertainment." They were the only two women there.

According to the police affidavit, as they began their performance, the men became excited and aggressive, yelling out, "Did you bring any sex toys?" and when told, "No," responding that they could just use a broom. The two women, afraid, ran outside to the car. They were then coaxed back inside, where they were separated. The accuser was taken into the bathroom and forced to have sex by three men. Trying to defend herself, she broke a handful of artificial nails and ran out without her makeup bag, cell phone, money or ID.

As the two women drove off, a neighbor heard one of the players yell, "Hey, b----, thank your grandpa for my nice white cotton shirt."

Of the 47 members of the lacrosse team, 46 are white. The two women are black. The accuser is a 27-year-old mother of two and full-time student. The women drove to a nearby grocery store, where a security guard, seeing the accuser sitting in the car looking inebriated or disoriented, called the police.

The police took her to the hospital, which reported injuries consistent with rape and sexual assault. A day and a half later, armed with a warrant, police returned to the house, where they found four artificial nail tips, along with the woman's cell phone, makeup bag, ID and eight $20 bills (the woman claimed she left $400 in $20 bills).

By that time, the police had also received a copy of an e-mail sent later on the night of the alleged rape by one of the team members, from his Duke address, in which he said he planned an encore in which he would invite strippers to his dorm but that there would be "no nudity," since he planned on "killing the b------" and "cutting their skin off," while achieving his own sexual satisfaction. The e-mail was signed with his lacrosse number.

The university has taken the charges seriously, finally, after seeming to ignore them for the first two weeks. The lacrosse team was already under scrutiny because of a record of infractions of the school's judicial code. The release of the e-mail and the police affidavit resulted in the suspension both of the student who sent it and of the team's season, and the resignation of the lacrosse coach. But none of the players are cooperating with police in the investigation, and most of them seem to have lawyers who are determined to turn this into a public trial of the victim, even though 15 of the 47 lacrosse players have arrests of their own in the past.

What's more, a group of friends and team boosters -- the "Committee for Fairness to Duke Families" -- have made the truly startling choice to hire Bill Clinton defender Bob Bennett to protect the reputation of the university, which suggests that there will be a loud chorus for those assaults.

What could be more offensive? What possible interest do "Duke Families" have in a "Paula Jones" style "nuts and sluts" defense?

At best, the behavior of these Duke athletes was boorish. There is nothing here for Duke to be defending. The whole idea of this party is disgusting to begin with, sexist and racist at its core. The DNA tests that the men submitted to did not produce a match, but contrary to the crowing of the defense lawyers, that does not prove that the woman is lying. The men could have been wearing condoms. Penetration is required for rape, not ejaculation.

The code of silence being followed by these athletes may be their constitutional right, but it is hardly something for Duke alumni to praise. These young men have tarnished the reputation of their school, and any real friends of Duke should be angry at them, and distancing themselves from them, not hiring an expert in trashing victims to help protect them.



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The arrest this morning of two Duke lacrosse players, and the continued investigation of a third, makes clear that this year's high-profile rape case is not going away. If the woman is telling any part of the truth, she went through a terrible assault once, and...
Wednesday, 19 April 2006 12:00 AM
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