Saturday, 29 April 2006

Poet/president ponders potential Panther peril

Here’s the statement of President Brodhead regarding the planned demonstration by the “New Black Panther Party” adjacent to the Duke campus on Monday—when I happily will be safely 800 miles away in Saint Louis.


Duke student Allison Clarke and I had some brief correspondence earlier this week (I think—time is starting to blur for me), an outgrowth of which is this post [link corrected -ed]. I don’t know that we disagree as much as she thinks we do—perhaps the reputation of my commenters is rubbing off on me—but either way it’s a thoughtful commentary that is worth your time.

Incidentally, congratulations to Allison and her fellow seniors on the happy event of their upcoming graduation; much to my disappointment (in part because I am missing out on my last chance to break out the regalia at Duke), I will be unable to attend the festivities for family reasons, so I suppose this is as close to a public demonstration of my felicitations as I will get.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Duke accuser made previous gang-rape charge in 1996

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, it turns out that the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case previously reported a brutal gang-rape by three men in 1996:

The woman who says she was raped by three members of Duke’s lacrosse team also told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men, filing a 1996 complaint claiming she had been assaulted three years earlier when she was 14.

Authorities in nearby Creedmoor said Thursday that none of the men named in the decade-old report was ever charged but they didn’t have details why.

A phone number for the accuser has been disconnected and her family declined to comment to The Associated Press. But relatives told Essence magazine in an online story this week that the woman declined to pursue the case out of fear for her safety.

On the one hand, one has to believe that the odds of being the victim of two separate gang rapes, each involving three men, are pretty low. On the other hand, it is believable that a young woman who had been sexually assaulted as a teenager would be more likely to get involved in the adult entertainment industry as an adult, which would of course expose her to more opportunties to be gang-raped than a lot of other professions, so both charges could be credible. Like I said… weird.

Black "hate group" claims it is providing security for the alleged victim

After this bit of news, I think people will be wishing it was just the Al and Jesse Show headed to Durham:

An official with the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense said the black nationalist organization is providing security for the woman who has accused Duke lacrosse players of raping her.

And the organization is distributing recruitment brochures with information about a rally planned near the Duke campus for Monday. The brochures ask, “Had enough of disrespect and racism from Duke University?” The materials contain photographs of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, the two white lacrosse players indicted and charged with raping a black exotic dancer at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. the night of March 13–14.

“We’ll do the escort and the security, going to court, whatever it takes” to protect the accuser from threats allegedly being made against her, said Minister Na’jee Shaka Muhammad, national field marshal with the New Black Panther Party who is based out of Atlanta but working in Durham with the dancer and her family. ...

Founded in 1989 in Dallas, the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense has chapters across the U.S. It preaches self-determination for a black nation through revolutionary changes. Among other tenets of the organization are calls to free all incarcerated black people, exempting blacks from military service, education that “exposes the true nature of this devilish and decadent American society,” and demands for trials by a jury of black peers.

The organization has been assailed by the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation in an open letter on the foundation’s Web site. Newton was the founder of the Black Panther Party that was active in the 1960s civil rights struggles. The organization Newton founded has no connection to the New Black Panther Party.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups across the country, lists the New Black Panther Party as a racist, black separatist organization.

Also, there may be some more problems with the identification of the (alleged) third attacker:

[A]ttorney sources said the accuser was only 90 percent sure about her identification of one of three men she said attacked her, and she tripped up over a mustache.

Looking at a photo lineup, the dancer told police the man in question “looks just like him without the mustache,” the lawyers said, citing a written investigative report.

But the alleged third rapist had no mustache on the relevant night, if he ever had one, according to attorneys. They said photographs and eyewitnesses would prove their point.

Elsewhere, ESPN’s George Smith has apparently gotten a few Duke lacrosse players to talk:

Several Duke lacrosse players who say they were at a team party the night of the alleged rape of a 27-year-old woman have told ESPN‘s George Smith that an argument over money and the amount of time two exotic dancers were expected to perform was at the center of a dispute that night.

The players, who agreed to speak with ESPN on the condition their names not be used, also admitted that slurs and bad language were used by some players and the dancers during the argument. ...

The players, who would not go on camera, also would not discuss many details about the case or answer more specific questions about exactly what happened.

But they told ESPN‘s Smith that not all 47 players were at the party at the time the woman said she was raped; some had already left. The players told Smith they admit it was foolish to have the party, but deny that any rape occurred. They also believe the two students charged so far will not be convicted.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Don't mind me

I’m going to be busy much of this week with grading (I have 73 term papers to grade, and I need to get them all done before Sunday) and a conference, so don’t expect a lot of new posts on the Duke lacrosse situation or anything else for that matter.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Collin, Collin, Collin...

Mr. Finnerty’s previous legal entanglement has come back to haunt him, whether or not he was actually at Cosmic at the time of the alleged rape (via UD and others):

One of two Duke University lacrosse players charged with raping a stripper faces new legal trouble in an unrelated assault case from November.

Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., appeared in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday for a hearing in which a judge determined that he violated the conditions of a diversion program he entered after being charged in a Georgetown assault.

Finnerty and two other high school men are accused of punching Jeffrey O. Bloxgom in the face and body after he told them to “stop calling him gay and other derogatory names,” last November, according to court documents.

Under the terms of the diversion program, the charges would have been dismissed after Finnerty completed 25 hours of community service. But the agreement called for Finnerty to refrain from committing any criminal offense.

Finnerty remains free pending a July 10 trial date. He could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of simple assault.

“We look forward to presenting the facts,” attorney Steven J. McCool, who is representing Finnerty in the Georgetown case, said in a brief statement outside the courthouse. “This incident has been grossly mischaracterized.” ...

In addition to the new trial dates, the Washington D.C. judge also set new restrictions for Finnerty and the other suspects. Under some of those restrictions, they must follow a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, stay at least 50 feet from Bloxgom and refrain from going any place where alcohol is sold, served or consumed.

I guess this means Collin won’t be joining us for LDOC festivities tomorrow.

More to chew on

The number that cabbie Moez Mostafa received a call from at 12:29 a.m. is in the 856 area code (including the exchange, 856–296-xxxx), if you pause playback during Rita Crosby’s interview with him. What’s weird is that Tony McDevitt, a junior Duke lacrosse player who has a striking resemblance to the indicted Reade Seligmann, lives smack dab in that area code according to this site. McDevitt, along with four teammates, was on the season watchlist for the nation’s top collegiate player before the incident.

Also, the 12:14 a.m. call, attributed to Reade Seligmann by the defense, is from the 973 area code (973–953-xxxx). This would seem to correspond with the part of New Jersey he is from.

Monday, 24 April 2006

Making the rounds

I’ve been reading From The Archives for the past couple of weeks, upon recommendation from the Marginal Revolution gang, and I have to say it’s well worth it.

Incidentally, if I didn’t know any better I’d swear Megan was someone of past acquaintance based on this post alone, although I’m quite certain we’ve never met. Plagues and locusts indeed.

You ain't seen no ugliness yet

The big news today is that the attorney for accused player Reade Seligmann has filed a motion for discovery into the background of the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation.

That’s really it as far as the links go. I read on the CourtTV message board that Rita Cosby had another interview with Our Man Moez in which he cleared up the time of when he was called to the lacrosse house to pick the second group of players up—it sounds like he just got confused looking at the call log. Apparently more footage from the interview with Kim Roberts was released today as well, but I haven’t seen that either. What can I say?—I had lots of work to do today.

But, if you’re really bored, I’m sure you can find some amusement at the website of Moez Mostafa’s On Time Taxi, featuring all sorts of weird clipart of generic white people in a city that looks nothing like Durham (maybe Durham, Ontario instead) and flat rate service to 9th Street and Shooters, which I suppose is a way to build brand loyalty. Alas, no prominent endorsement from Reade Seligmann yet…

Sunday, 23 April 2006


Wherein I post about things that have nothing to do with current events:

  • The boss gave me tix to see the Durham Bulls in action against the Charlotte Knights Saturday evening at DBAP; here are some photos. The game was rained out in the top of the 7th, but it was pretty fun nonetheless.
  • In what has to be one of the most thoroughly bad ideas in human history, my Southern Politics students browbeat me into joining Facebook. Next you know I’ll be streaking all over Durham like Will Farrell in Old School.
  • I picked up this Plain White T’s album at Best Buy today; it’s surprisingly good, especially for a band I’d never heard of.
  • Most of the remainder of the weekend (other than the time I spent sleeping), I looked over around 20 draft papers for my quantitative political analysis class. Although having a huge stack of papers to grade at the end of the semester isn’t the most fun experience in the world, it’s still cool to see some of the questions—and answers—that students come up with as part of the paper process. Particularly fun is seeing the students who go after underexplored questions and find fascinating stuff.

Lazy Sunday Linkage

No, no Chronic-les of Narnia; just more lacrosse stuff…

Saturday, 22 April 2006

The ethics of trial by media

Saturday’s News & Observer looks at the ethical questions surrounding the public comments of lawyers in the Duke lacrosse investigation:

Defense lawyers and legal experts say District Attorney Mike Nifong may have crossed ethical lines in public comments about rape allegations involving Duke University lacrosse players, potentially prejudicing jurors and setting off a media maelstrom.

For his part, Nifong says that he has done nothing wrong, though he has ceased talking with reporters about allegations made by an escort service dancer hired to perform at a March 13 team party. He would speak only about his handling of the case Friday.

“In terms of what I said, no, I wouldn’t say I regret anything I’ve said,” Nifong said. “I think what I have learned, basically, is that if you cooperate with the media out of a sense of duty to public truth, you make yourself a victim.”

Also, thanks to Sharon in the comments of a previous thread, NBC 17 reports a possible conflict between cab driver Moez Mostafa’s account of returning to the party and picking up four players and police accounts that show no people at the house around the same time; it’s possible that one or both accounts is off on the time in question, but it’s also possible that Mostafa is embellishing his story.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Defense claims IDs bogus

I may not be a law enforcement officer, but I’ve seen enough episodes of NYPD Blue to know that this isn’t how you run a photo array:

Defense attorneys are questioning the method used by Durham police to obtain a woman’s identification of two Duke University lacrosse players in an alleged rape last month….

A written report of the April 4 identification was turned over to defense attorneys Friday, and sources told NBC17 that the attorneys are considering asking a judge to suppress the evidence, claiming it was improperly conducted.

To obtain the identification, Durham police showed the woman a photo array that included only photos of the 46 [white] lacrosse team members, sources said. The woman said she was 100 percent certain that Finnerty and Seligmann were involved and 90 percent certain that a third player was involved.

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday that he is still collecting evidence in the case and hopes to indict a third player soon.

No other photos were shown to the woman, sources said, and the defense attorneys maintain that police should have included photos of other young, white men in the photo array to make the identifications legitimate.

The bad news for me is that it shoots my theory of why Seligmann got ID’d to hell. Oh well.

The identification was on April 4. Let’s review what had already happened by April 4:

This news puts some real meat on the bones of the theory that Finnerty was set up because of his previous arrest, particularly if the defense can produce credible witnesses who have him at Cosmic Cantina when the rape allegedly occurred.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this ID is not good news for Mike Nifong’s case—not just against Seligmann or Finnerty, but against anyone else she subsequently IDs. He’d better start hoping that second round of DNA comes back with a match real soon…

Warrant confirms Seligmann has bad taste in music

The press has exposed more warrant follies from the Durham Police Department, this time from the list of items taken from Reade Seligmann’s dorm room. They took among other items his iPod and, presumably, a Beck EP—are they planning to sic the RIAA on him or something?

Here’s the full list of items taken; apparently they weren’t content just to take his iPod… they also made off with his iTrip FM adaptor, which I’m absolutely certain is just going to bust this thing wide open.

I am slightly curious what a “scouting report” relating to 1105 Urban Street on December 3, 2005 would be; you’ll note that this is the adjacent address to 1103 (a duplex?), where certain members of the lacrosse team were living at the time of the party. 1103/1105 is another of the properties acquired by Duke University in February. Perhaps this is an indication that the authorities did have some interest in the 1103 house too. No warrants have been served for a search of that address; at least, none that are known to the public—some enterprising reporter might want to see if this is another “double-secret” warrant that never got turned in to the clerk’s office by the presiding judge.

Second dancer publically identified

I have a busy day today, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t link this AP report on the second dancer in the case, now known to the public as Kim Roberts, 31, of Durham. Roberts was arrested on March 22nd on a parole violation, one week after the alleged rape at the Duke lacrosse party, although it’s unclear at this point what provision of her parole she violated.

At the very least, this part looks bad:

On Monday, the same day a grand jury indicted lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, a judge agreed to a change so that Roberts would no longer have to pay a 15 percent fee to a bonding agent. District Attorney Mike Nifong signed a document saying he would not oppose the change.

What an amazing coincidence…

More Moez Mostafa

Our cabbie’s 15 minutes of fame continue in this WRAL report, which adds even more detail on the second taxi pickup as the Duke lacrosse party was breaking up:

After dropping off Seligmann, [Moez] Mostafa said, he returned to the house to pick up four more passengers. When he arrived, it looked like a party was breaking up, with people crowded on both sides of the street.

While waiting for the men whom he would later drive to a nearby gas station, the Sudan-born driver saw a woman walking through a crowd of men toward a car, and heard someone say, “She just a stripper. She’s going to call the police.”

Mostafa said the woman, wearing jeans and a sweater, appeared to exchange words with some people in the crowd before getting into the driver’s side of a car.

“She looked, like, mad,” he said. “In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad.”

When asked by a reporter with CBS News if he had a feeling that something had gone wrong or someone had been hurt at the party that night, Mostafa said, “Yeah, I got the feeling something had gone wrong.”

ABC 11 explains what they think the envelope seizure was all about:

The envelope likely was taken to prove that Finnerty lived at the dorm.

Never mind that the envelope would have been addressed to Finnerty’s P.O. box in the Bryan Center, not his dorm room, but whatever…

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Rats off a sinking ship

The Duke lacrosse team has figured out that big-time lacrosse probably ain’t coming back to Durham, but Margaret Soltan notes at least one school isn’t rolling out the welcome mat for potential transfers.

Something to try on for size

Tom Maguire finds something in the storyline that doesn’t quite fit:

Weren’t both women missing for the 20–30 minutes? Per the prosecution version, where was the second dancer while the first was being assaulted?

And if she was performing, why no photos?

I think I have an answer to that, and it came to me when I realized this morning how close the second lacrosse house is to the first (less than a two minute walk). Since this is at best speculation I am putting it below the fold.

Finnerty search warrant

WRAL has the search warrant for the room Collin Finnerty shared with a fellow Duke lacrosse player in Edens 2C up in all its glory. Police, who were still on their quixotic quest to find the missing white shoe lost by the alleged victim, came away with a New York Times article by Janet Macur from April 4th (presumably this one) and a letter (or at least the envelope the letter came in) from a female student at Boston College dated from last September. Nothing in the search warrant’s description of the events as alleged by the attacker actually connects Finnerty to the rape, leaving one to suspect that the only reason the police were able to secure the warrant was Finnerty’s indictment by the grand jury.

No word yet on the warrant for Seligmann’s room.

Update: NBC 17 reports police took “an iPod and a photo of friends from Seligmann's room.”

More from the cabbie

The AP reports (thanks to Sharon in the comments on the post below) that our cabbie also picked up another fare from the Duke lacrosse party later on:

A cab driver called to take a Duke University lacrosse player home from a team party says his passenger [Reade Seligmann], now charged with raping an exotic dancer, seemed calm and even jovial that night. But a second passenger he picked up later was talking about a stripper, he said.

Moez Mostafa said the second passenger spoke about a stripper in a tone that made it “look to me like somebody get hurt.” ...

In an interview on MSNBC, Mostafa said he returned to the house later to pick up another customer. He said he remembered that person “said in a loud voice, ‘She just a stripper.’”

Asked whether the second fare was complaining about the stripper or whether it appeared something bad had happened to her, Mostafa initially said he didn’t “have any information about what was going on in the house.”

“When I look back, he look like he mad at the stripper. Or the stripper, she going to call the police and she just a stripper. ... It look to me like somebody get hurt. But what kind of harm, ... I have no idea.”

This actually sort-of fits in with a theory of events that suddenly hit me after putting together the post on Finnerty and Seligmann’s alibis… which I’ll leave you hanging on until later this afternoon.

Dissecting the alibis

Buried in a boring story about how Duke can learn a lesson from Wake Forest (presumably not “move away from the craphole town your university is currently located in to find greener pastures elsewhere”) are some details of the alibis that Duke lacrosse players Collin Finnery and Reade Seligmann say place them elsewhere at the time the alleged victim may be saying she was raped:

Attorney sources said that Finnerty contends he has an alibi—that he was at a Mexican restaurant-bar near Ninth Street when the alleged rape occurred. On Tuesday, defense lawyers said Seligmann also has an alibi—that he and a friend left 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., walked to the nearby intersection of Urban Avenue and Watts Street and called a cab.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, taxi driver Moez Mostafar said his phone records show he got a call from Seligmann’s cell phone at 12:14 a.m. March 14 and picked him and his friend up about five minutes later.

Mostafar said he didn’t know his customers had anything to do with the alleged rape until an attorney called him about it a week or so ago.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I’m involved now in something big.”

Mostafar, 37, said he was reluctant to talk at first, but that a visit from Seligmann’s father changed his mind.

“I didn’t want to get involved, but when his father came and said it was a really serious situation, I talked to them,” he said.

Defense attorneys have said the period between 12:10 and 12:30 a.m. was the only plausible time for a rape to have occurred. But authorities have never publicly pinpointed an exact time.

Mostafar, who works with On-Time Taxi and Shuttle Service, remembered ferrying his passengers back to Edens dormitory—via a bank and a fast-food restaurant. He said he doesn’t recall anything suspicious about his passengers or the circumstances of the fare.

“They are normal, I didn’t see anything wrong with them,” Mostafar said. “I didn’t pay attention because nothing looked suspicious at all. They just wanted to get some food and take a ride home.”

He said he dropped them off at the dorm between 12:40 and 1 a.m.

Mostafar said the main thing he remembered was his passengers’ generosity. He got $25 for an $18 fare.

Let’s deal with Finnerty first; he’s easier. He probably was at Cosmic Cantina on Perry Street, a popular late-night hangout for Duke students modulo the occasional mugging of students going to or from East a block to the, um, east. Cosmic doesn’t take meal plan points except on delivery, so Finnerty won’t have a DukeCard swipe proving he was there, but he probably paid with debit or credit like all the kids do these days. It’s plausible that he’d be there around midnight, perhaps getting some Mexican to counteract the effects of spending a bit of time at Charlie’s a couple of blocks away—then he could hail a cab home or mosey over to the East Campus bus stop and ride home to Edens. Since it was Spring Break and business was probably light, perhaps even the counter staff will remember him being there, although I doubt they can nail down times.

Seligmann’s wild ride, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. We are told Seligmann and a fellow player walked about a block and a half to hail a cab—specifically, to the intersection of Watts and Urban streets, one block east of Buchanan and one house to the north of 610. Why would you walk to a residential intersection (Watts and Urban) to hail a cab, when 610 is on a relative main drag (Buchanan) and you’re a block south of a real intersection with traffic lights and everything at Buchanan and Markham?

Here’s a possibility: remember our good neighborly pals who got out their pots and pans last month? They started out, as you remember, at 610 North Buchanan. Then, before deciding to go harass Peter Lange, they made another stop, at “a second house rented by members of the lacrosse team”—1103 Urban Street—at the intersection of (you guessed it) Watts and Urban. So logically, Seligmann’s buddy (we’ll call him Player Two) either (a) wasn’t at the party and joined him from 1103 Urban or (b) decided to drop some stuff off/pick some stuff up at the second house before the taxi arrived. (There are other theories to explain this too, such as the residents of 1103 leaving 610 to go home around the same time and Seligmann and Player Two walking back with them before hailing a cab.)

Where do they go next? Wachovia Bank, at the intersection of 9th Street and Main. Then it’s off further to the west, according to Rita Crosby’s MSNBC interview with the taxi driver, to The Cook-Out on Hillsborough Road—where in more recent times, two Duke students were allegedly assaulted by some NCCU students at the drive-thru. Good luck getting an eyewitness account from those folks, Reede.

Finally, they trek back over to Edens 2C, where Seligmann opens the door with his DukeCard and he and Player Two go inside after giving the driver a $7 tip on an $18 fare (generous lads).

Seligmann’s alibi seems pretty airtight—if the rape definitely happened around 12:15. They have a cab driver, they have phone records, and they probably have camera footage from the ATM (assuming it wasn’t busted). Finnerty seems to be on shakier ground, but it seems logical that a guy on virtual probation for the November 2005 incident would avoid the Spring Break party and a non-negligible chance of being arrested for underage drinking and screwing up his diversionary sentencing program.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Back to the future

A reader draws my attention back to the April 2 public editor column in the News & Observer, in which Ted Vaden wrote in regards to the rape allegations against (then unnamed) members of the Duke lacrosse team:

[N&O deputy managing editor Linda] Williams said editors and the reporter discussed the fairness issue at length before interviewing the woman and publishing the story. The governing decision, she said, was to print only information from the interview that conformed with the police reports. “We limited for publication the statements from the woman that were in line with what she said in the police report,” Williams said. Other information from the interview has not been published.

I noted before managing editor Melanie Sill’s rebuttal, which also alluded to the fact that the paper chose not to print additional statements made by the accuser.

One would hope that the N&O will soon make public any parts of the original interview they previously redacted that are consistent or inconsistent with the defense’s statements about the events of the evening of March 13–14.

Student paper rant of the day

When kids learn how to do word processing (whenever and however they learn it—I know I don’t teach it), apparently nobody bothers to teach them to create page breaks by using the “Page Break” function instead of just hitting return a bunch of times. Thus, when I print it out on my printer, everything ends up FUBAR.

This is, in one word, annoying—so annoying, in fact, that I am considering a “no sending me papers via email” rule in the future.

Update: Of all the posts that someone would complain about, it would have to be this one… sheesh.

More afternoon linkage

Some bullet points around the web on the whole Duke lacrosse thing:

  • A Q&A with Lester Munson at
  • Tom Maguire’s comment thread from yesterday is long—too long. He speculates, “my guess is that once the District Attorney gets past his election situation in early May, the wheels will fall off. My sources in New Jersey assure me that there is nothing to this, but who knows?”
  • A few local bloggers of note: John in Carolina continues to hammer the News & Observer for its coverage, Laura of Survival Theory has been on the case with a few interesting comment threads, and those looking for someone who is less credulous of the defense may find my neighbor Lisa B. more to their liking; I only use the term “Townie” out of pure love for my fellow Trinity Park residents.
  • Finally, the latest DukeObsrvr comment thread is worth a skim; I’d say the mood is a bit more pro-defense than the median student, but my sense (from a non-scientific discussion with a few of my students this afternoon) is that the median student at this point is pretty fed up about the whole thing and just wants it all to go away.

Some defense photos now online

NBC 17 has posted seven photos from the night of the alleged attack, as shown on MSNBC’s The Abrams Report this afternoon; these are part of the same set of photos taken at the party and previously described to the press and seen by various news outlets over the past week or so.

Your afternoon roundup

WRAL reports (apply your standard “potential defense attorney spin” detector accordingly) that the identifications made by the accuser were not may not have been of the players’ faces:

An exotic dancer who says three Duke lacrosse players raped her may have identified two of them based on photographs that show scratches on their bodies, a defense attorney for one of the men said Wednesday.

Attorney Bill Cotter said that when 46 members of the lacrosse team submitted court-ordered DNA samples last month, they were also photographed without their shirts. ...

A search of Finnerty’s dorm room Tuesday, however, was a clear sign that the investigation is rapidly continuing. A resident assistant told WRAL that Durham police investigators searched Seligmann’s and Finnerty’s rooms at Edens 2C Residence Hall for two hours Tuesday night.

Sources tell WRAL that the officers were looking for Finnerty’s computer and that they seized several undisclosed items.

The News & Observer adds that “Cotter said Tuesday that police searched Finnerty’s dorm room Tuesday night and said he believed they also served a search warrant in Seligmann’s room in the Edens dormitory. Cotter said it is unusual for authorities to serve a search warrant on someone who has already been indicted.” They also have a handy graphic of the timelines produced by the prosecution and defense attorneys, although it does not include Seligmann’s ATM and munchies trek that is believed to start around 12:15 a.m.

ABC 11 has exclusive results from an opinion poll of Durham County voters, although the most important question—who respondents planned to vote for—seems to have been omitted from the poll. Nifong received a 35% favorable and 30% unfavorable rating from respondents; as this is within the margin of error of the poll, we can’t conclude that Nifong’s favorables outweigh his unfavorables in the underlying population. One of Nifong’s challengers, former assistant DA Freda Black, started taking shots at Nifong Tuesday in a recorded phone message for Durham voters.

Also of interest: photos from Don Ingle, one of WRAL’s news photographers, of the circus around the Durham County Courthouse, and ponderances on the media coverage by WRAL anchor/reporter David Crabtree.

Death Cab for Seligmann

The papers are having trouble verifying part of lacrosse player Reade Seligmann’s alibi for the time of the alleged rape:

Defense lawyers for the players told The Durham Herald-Sun that Seligmann called a cab at 12:14 a.m. and was driven away from N. Buchanan Boulevard five minutes later. In addition, they claimed that an ATM security camera filmed Seligmann while making a withdrawal at 12:24 a.m.

The Herald-Sun called 12 Durham-based taxi companies, all of which denied dispatching a cab to the house where the party occurred the night of the alleged incident.

Also, WRAL has the Tuesday search being of Finnerty’s dorm room, while the accuser’s camp appears to be converging on “she was drugged” as a theory of events:

A cousin of the accuser who has been acting as a spokeswoman for her family disputed that allegations in an interview on ABC‘s “Good Morning America” Wednesday. She identified herself only by her first name, Jackie, to protect the woman’s identity.

“Before she went to the party she was not intoxicated, she was not drinking,” Jackie said. “There’s a great possibility that when she went to the party, she was given a drink and it was drugged.”

Update: More on Seligmann’s cab ride:

Around midnight the night of March 13, Seligmann was already at the party when two women hired from a local escort agency arrived to dance for the boys — $400 each for a two-hour performance. A series of time-stamped photographs viewed by ABC News show the girls dancing at midnight and at 12:02 a.m.

By 12:24 a.m., a receipt reviewed by ABC indicates that Seligmann's ATM card was used at a nearby Wachovia bank. In a written statement to the defense also reviewed by ABC, a cabdriver confirms picking up Seligmann and a friend a block and a half from the party, and driving them to the bank. By 12:25 a.m., he was making a phone call to a girlfriend out of state.

What did Seligmann do after leaving the bank? The taxi driver remembers taking him to a drive-thru fast-food restaurant and then dropping him off at his dorm. Duke University records show that Seligmann's card was used to gain entry at 12:46 a.m.

In addition to bolstering Seligmann's alibi, the taxi driver's written testimony provided a rare glimpse of color in an otherwise darkened night.

"I remember those two guys starting enjoying their food inside my car, but I'm glad I end up with a nice tip and fare $25," the taxi driver said in his testimony.

I’m still not sure why the team captains told police that Seligmann wasn’t at the party, but maybe they can’t tell their fellow players apart either…

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Ostertag retires, world shrugs

Utah Jazz player Greg Ostertag has decided to call it quits after 11 seasons in the NBA. Since my only lasting impression of Ostertag is that his name always struck me as likely to be the German word for “slow, untalented white guy” I for one won’t be missing him. Matter of fact, I think today was the first time I realized he was still in the association this season.

At least we still have Darko and Kwame to kick around…

Seligmann indictment oddities

The latest from The New York Times adds to the confusion as to why Seligmann was one of the two players indicted:

At least one of the two players charged will be able to show an A.T.M. receipt and a record that he called a restaurant to order food and picked it up before the alleged assault, according to a defense lawyer involved in the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the charged players were not clients.

Julian Mack, a lawyer for Mr. Seligmann until Monday, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Seligmann had an excellent alibi, which the district attorney had never asked about.

“The evidence will clearly show that there is no way he could have been at that place at that time,” Mr. Mack said. He declined to be more specific.

A court filing by the district attorney’s office on March 23 indicated that Mr. Seligmann was one of five players who investigators had been told were not at the party.

Has anyone seen this March 23 filing, presumably the one that Nifong used to get his order for the players to produce DNA?

Me, in transcript form

For those of you who missed my 15 minutes of fame, here’s a transcript from CNN. I’ve tried to reconstruct what I said in the audio gaps from the webcam to the best of my memory.

Edens: where all the action is

Apparently, Durham Police have a fetish for searching Edens Quad:

Hours after charging two Duke University lacrosse players with rape, Durham police searched a dormitory room on the Duke campus for more evidence in the case.

Investigators executed a search warrant and searched a room at the Edens 2C Residence Hall. There was no immediate word on what police hoped to recover in the search.

Since Finnerty and Seligmann both live(d) in Edens (although it’s not clear if they live in building 2C, which is where Ryan McFadyen lived), it is possible that one of their rooms was the one that was searched, and the search would require a separate warrant from their arrest. On the other hand, maybe the cops just can’t find any other dorms and keep going back to Edens…

Elsewhere, WRAL has the arrest paperwork for Finnerty and Seligmann. Interestingly, both say they were ordered sealed on April 13th, last Thursday, before the grand jury met.

New Ron Moore Q&A

Ron Moore has a new Battlestar Galactica Q&A up at his blog, with a few teeny spoilerish things about Season 3 and the (to me, at least) quite fascinating story of how he washed out of Navy ROTC in college.

Moneta to world: read between the lines

Without federal regulations, what would we do? I hand over the mike to Duke’s own Larry Moneta:

Two Duke University students have been indicted by a grand jury investigating allegations of sexual assault against a Durham woman.

The university is prohibited under federal privacy regulations from releasing information regarding student disciplinary matters. (For more information about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act—FERPA—see

Historically, it has been the university’s practice to issue an interim suspension when a student is charged with a felony or when the student’s presence on the campus may create an unsafe situation.

Translation from Moneta-ese: Finnerty and Seligmann are suspended. But I didn’t tell you that, because if I had, I’d have violated FERPA, so I didn’t. Hopefully your head now hurts enough that you won’t sue me. Thank you; I now have to go back to my sole reason for living: honking off the residents of Trinity Park.

JBB: on the money

I didn’t read Jack Bauer’s Bidet yesterday, but it’s looking eerily prescient today:

Q: How do you tell the difference between one New England Establishment Pretty-Boy and another New England Establishment Pretty-Boy three weeks after you meet them?

A: You can’t.

JBB also takes a few other shots that are worth a laugh or two, although I doubt anyone over 30 or so will get the Oregon Trail references.

Your arrestees, including a familiar name

From the Duke Chronicle: the two players who were indicted are now identified:

Durham law enforcement officers arrested two lacrosse teammates early Tuesday morning in connection with allegations members of the team raped a woman at a March 13 party.

The two students, sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, each are charged with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping, said Colonel George Naylor, director of the sheriff department’s detention facility.

Finnerty and Seligmann each have a bond of $400,000. If they do not make bond, their first appearance in court could be Tuesday. “There is a process going on,” Naylor said. ...

Finnerty is currently facing charges in Washington D.C. of simple assault. According to court records, Finnerty allegedly assaulted a Georgetown player after he called Finnerty gay in the early morning of Nov. 5, 2005. [this account is inaccurate; see below - ed]

Sucks to be them, I suppose…

I have some work I need to be doing the next few hours before teaching at 1:15, so don’t expect a lot of updates until this afternoon.

Update: The New York Times gives a different account of Finnerty’s 2005 arrest; Seligmann has been released on $400,000 bond, while Finnerty’s release is pending.

Update 2: Another high-quality witness identification, if this is to be believed:

Sources close to the investigation told CNN Tuesday that the defense will present evidence—including ATM receipts and a cab driver—that neither Seligmann, 20, nor Finnerty, 19, were at the team party at the time the alleged rape took place.

In her defense, I’m told all white people look alike…

Update 3: Via email from a reader, the officer’s statement from Finnerty’s November 5 arrest; the Chronicle excerpt above managed to butcher the whole account.

Here’s my post from when the Finnerty arrest first surfaced in the papers; for those of you keeping track of the time the IDs were made, the story surfaced on the 4th or 5th, around the time the alleged victim is said to have identified her attackers.

Alleva: Pressler was already on probation

Duke AD Joe Alleva and VP Tallman Trask already had the performance of ex-lacrosse coach Mike Pressler on their collective radar screens, according to Tuesday’s Herald-Sun:

A high-level review of the men’s lacrosse team’s disciplinary records last year prompted Duke’s athletics director to warn the coach his team was “under the microscope” and that players needed to improve their conduct, the director said Monday.

At the time, the team’s reputation nationally was for winning games. Today, the team stands disgraced, with two players indicted on still-undisclosed charges stemming from an alleged gang rape at a team party, the season terminated and the coach forced out of his job.

Although the team’s reputation for drinking and debauchery has drawn attention since the rape allegation last month, an explicit warning to Coach Mike Pressler about the team’s behavior has not been previously revealed.

Will Alleva be the next to go? Only the Magic 8 Ball (and Dick Brodhead) knows…

Monday, 17 April 2006

Mike Nifong: Captain Oblivious

One of the Nifong quotes from this afternoon is so priceless it’s worth sharing:

“I no longer get to go anywhere in my community without people knowing who I am,” Nifong said. “I wish you could find me a way to give me my anonymity back.”

First, having blue and white campaign signs with your name on them all around town hardly qualifies as “anonymity.” Second, I’ll give you three guesses as to who is actually responsible for Nifong losing his “anonymity.”

Of course, what’s really going to up the Nifong annoyance quotient is his beaming face at tomorrow’s perp walk/Dillinger moment. Few people like a smartass, but nobody likes a smartass who might actually be right…

Figuring Time Warner out

Now I’ve figured out the internal logic of Time Warner’s local HDTV channel numbers here in Durham, I guess I’m a little less confused:

  • WRAL (CBS) 5’s HD stream is channel 255.
  • ABC 11’s HD stream is channel 211.
  • NBC 17’s HD stream is channel 217.
  • Fox 50’s HD stream is channel 250.

It leaves the choice of 201 for PBS still somewhat arbitrary, but what can you do?

One down, 45 (or 46) to go

We can start whittling the list of potential indictees down: the New York Times reports that our two lucky winners of a free perp walk do not include the most infamous figure in the case thus far:

Glen Bachman, the lawyer for Ryan McFadyen, a lacrosse player who was suspended from the university after sending a vicious email related to the party, confirmed that two players had been indicted but said McFadyen was not one of them.

For the other 45 or 46 players (depending on whether or not the alleged victim is still sure her attackers were all white), here’s the list of countries the U.S. doesn’t have extradition treaties with. Of course, I suspect anyone who actually did commit a rape in this case already knew that and is probably on his way to Andorra as we speak, whether or not he has actually been indicted.

Update: Scratch another player from the list; down to 44/45:

Butch Williams, who represents team captain Dan Flannery [who ordered the strippers and was one of the three leaseholders on the party house], also said prosecutors told him that his client was not among those charged.

Nothing from Joe Cheshire regarding his client, Dave Evans (another of the co-captains), yet; the implication is that Robert Eckstrand, who represents most of the team members, is counsel for at least one, and probably both, of the indictees.

NBC 17 timeline

NBC 17 reported the following timeline beginning with the second 911 call on the 7 pm edition of its local news:

  • 1:22: Second 911 call from Kroger security guard.
  • 1:27: First officer arrives; his dispatch traffic (beginning around 1:30) is what we’ve heard before.
  • 1:32: Second officer arrives.
  • 1:49: Second officer decides to transport accuser to psychiatric facility on North Duke Street, instead of the “drunk tank” as the first officer was planning to do.
  • 1:55: Accuser arrives at psych facility.
  • 2:39: Accuser is transported from psych facility to Duke University Hospital ER.
  • 2:45: Accuser arrives at ER.
  • 2:50: Initial report of intoxicated person changed to rape.

NBC 17 also reported that the sealed indictments were requested by both Nifong and defense attorneys, albeit for different reasons. It is implied that there will be a prosecution press conference sometime tomorrow.

Two sealed indictments?

The News & Observer has an AP report on the results of today’s grand jury:

No members of Duke University’s lacrosse team were among the defendants publicly indicted Monday by a grand jury, which defense attorneys had expected to consider allegations that a stripper was raped at a team party.

However, it was not immediately clear if the grand jury returned any indictments under seal, or if any of the players were among the 24 cases “carried forward” to be heard at a later date.

The version at ABC 11’s website doesn’t add much, although perhaps it gives a bit of insight into the size of Mike Nifong’s ego:

Nifong emerged from his office around 3:20 p.m., weaving through a large crowd of cameras and reporters to a water fountain. As he has for the past two weeks, he refused to answer any questions about the case.

“I’m just happy to see all of you here,” he said.

Update: currently has a banner saying “Two sealed indictments are handed up in the Duke University lacrosse rape investigation, a source tells CNN.” I’m watching Abrams live on MSNBC, and he hasn’t confirmed this information (in fact, he’s been yakking about Natalee Holloway for the last 20 minutes). reports:

Prosecutors have informed defense attorneys that the alleged victim has identified two players with 100 percent certainty and is 90 percent certain on a third player, ABC News reports.

Make of that what you will…

D-Day Morning

Monday’s Herald-Sun, which seems to have more of a pulse on the defense than its Raleigh-based competitor, gives us the players’ attorneys’ perspective heading into Grand Jury Monday:

In what the defense team believes was another effort to get ready for the grand jury, police detectives went to a Duke dorm Thursday night to question lacrosse players. According to the defense lawyers, the officers wanted to know who was and wasn’t at the North Buchanan Boulevard party the night of March 13–14.

The effort to question the players, the lawyers say, proved authorities lack confidence in the dancer’s visual identification of her alleged attackers, which reportedly was made from photographs.

One of the lawyers, Kerry Sutton of Durham, described the interrogation over the weekend as a “hail Mary pass at the last moment.” ...

Jason Alexander Bissey, a neighbor to the house where the woman allegedly was raped, provided a written statement to defense attorneys that they shared with The Herald-Sun over the weekend.

Bissey said he saw the “skimpily dressed” accuser leave the house between 12:20 and 12:30 a.m., but then heard her say she was going back inside to retrieve a missing shoe.

According to defense lawyers, Bissey’s observation had to be after the time the woman allegedly was raped in the house, since she never actually re-entered it.

But if she had been raped and sodomized for 30 minutes, as she claimed, would she really have been so worried about a lost shoe that she would dare to face her attackers again, attorneys Ekstrand, Thomas and others are asking.

Meanwhile, NBC17 has an exclusive interview with the second dancer, who it (unusally, as she is not believed to be a victim of a sex crime) declines to name, although it is believed her first name is “Kim” and she is either black or Hispanic:

[The second dancer] refuted claims made in recent days by defense attorneys that the accuser was intoxicated and injured when she arrived at the party.

“She looked absolutely fine,” the second dancer said, noting 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 admitted calling 911 to report racial epithets yelled at her and the accuser as they left the party. But she said the details of the incident became jumbled in her call because she was trying to hide the fact that she had been performing at the party.

The woman said her parents don’t know she makes a living as an exotic dancer, and she was afraid the information would be made public if she had been upfront with the 911 dispatcher.

Nothing much (yet?) from the somewhat more accuser-friendly confines of the News & Observer, although there is a FAQ on how grand juries work and a report on how the controversy is affecting recruitment of prospective students.

Sunday, 16 April 2006

My 15 minutes

Well, I don’t think I made a fool of myself or the university in my brief via-webcam appearance on CNN’s “On the Story” this weekend; it was actually rather fun, but a little nerve-wracking at the same time. There were a few hiccups with the audio on the iSight they sent me—probably some QoS issues on the upstream link from the Mac mini—and it was a bit weird not being able to see anyone I was talking to, but otherwise it seemed to go well.

Incidentally, the reporter/producer I talked to on the air, Abbi Tatton, was very nice and something of a fan of the Monster Raving Loony Party growing up.

I doubt I’ll be going into podcasting or vidcasting on a regular basis, but it was still somewhat neat to be able to broadcast nationwide (worldwide?) from my living room.

Sunday Night Linkage

On Grand Jury Eve, TalkLeft’s Jeralynn Merritt reports:

One of the defense attorneys was on the same tv segment I was on earlier today and said the defense team has been told by the prosecutor that two players’ names will be submitted to the grand jury. Despite offers of all team members to surrender if they are charged, the DA refuses to identify the two players. This sounds to me like the DA is anxious to do an on-camera perp walk.

WRAL says Mike Nifong doesn’t need any steenking excuplatory evidence:

Defense attorneys said they had offered to show the pictures to District Attorney Mike Nifong, but he declined to see them.

“As I understand the exchange, as it was reported to me, the DA is not interested in a discussion about our evidence,” said defense attorney Bob Ekstrand. ...

Just as defense attorneys have said Nifong has not seen their evidence, they don’t know what happened after police drove the accuser away.

“Something happened in the interim to cause her to be admitted into the hospital later that morning,” Ekstrand said. “And we should be very interested to know what it was.”

Finally, NYU education prof Jonathan Zimmerman writes a Newsday op-ed in which he opines that athletic scholarships are a form of affirmative action for whitey. He obviously hasn’t seen most college football and basketball teams…

That timeline again

This week’s Newsweek has an account of the defense version of the timeline with a few different details that what’s been previously discussed; clearing up one question, the alleged victim arrived around 11:45 and was dropped off by someone else. There is also some debate over the second dancer’s story and how helpful it will be to the defense:

The second woman supports the partygoers’ story, says Thomas, who says he has seen a summary of an interview with her conducted by a member of the defense team. “Their versions are basically identical,” he says. But Mark Simeon, an attorney for the second dancer, tells NEWSWEEK that Thomas’s claim is not accurate. “She rejects the notion that she agrees with their timeline. I’ve shown their story line to my client, and she says there’s a lot that’s wrong with it. From the beginning, she has been cooperating fully with [Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong] and the police, and she looks forward to testifying truthfully at the trial.” Thomas replies, “She has given us several statements, so I don’t see any room for her to change her story now simply because she has a lawyer speaking for her.” Nifong could not be reached for comment.

The accuser and the editor

Two vaguely interesting pieces in Sunday’s News & Observer: a lengthy article on the background of the accuser that is perhaps more intriguing for what it doesn’t tell us than what it does, and the second is another public editor column. Like I said—vaguely interesting.

Monday may be a bit more exciting; the rumor mill over-under on the number of people Nifong can get the grand jury to indict is around 2. I already have Ryan McFadyen down for getting one—sending an obscene email has got to violate at least one law in North Carolina, and Nifong’s got to walk away with at least one conviction out of this whole thing just to keep some self-respect.

Who else does he go after? Maybe he goes for some penny-ante stuff to tide everyone over; he’s probably got photos that will let him go to bat on some underage alcohol consumption charges against the under-21s and illegal distribution of alcohol to minors for the rest. Maybe he figures he can use that stuff as leverage to find out more, since even though this stuff normally gets pled out to a fine, in this environment he can go to a Townie jury and get max sentencing on these charges. Maybe the pressure of potentially spending a year in the Durham County Jail gets someone to flip, although unless they have beer bottles (and not just Dixie cups) in their hands in the photos it’s going to be a tough conviction.

Beyond that, who knows? He probably can get a rape indictment if the grand jury doesn’t ask any tough questions. We have no clue what he’s got, and he doesn’t have to tell anyone what the grand jury sees—although out of 18 people on that grand jury, I think it’s a safe bet we will get a leak or six. So, we shall see. I expect a good preview leak out of the prosecution camp (or maybe some expectations management by defense attorneys) to surface in one of the papers for Monday’s editions, so clarity may be here sooner than you’d think.

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Investigators claim accuser was drugged

From NBC 17:

An unnamed source close to the investigation of a reported rape near the Duke University campus has told NBC 17 News that someone might have drugged the accuser the night she claims three lacrosse members raped her.

“She may have been slipped a date-rape drug in a mixed drink she was given by one of the lacrosse players shortly after she arrived,” the source told NBC 17 late Friday.

“Her condition is said to have changed dramatically in a short period of time, from being completely sober on arrival to passing out on the floor in a short period of time.”

Elsewhere, the News & Observer looks at the backgrounds of the three co-captains who held the lease on the party house, who “are the only players known to have talked to police” in the case, while WRAL reports on Jesse Jackson’s attempt to inject himself into the case.

Duke under siege, day 20: big media gets to see the photos

Saturday’s Herald-Sun has a detailed account of the party photos that players’ attorneys have asserted are exculpatory; their reporting also fits it into the timeline of the case. Perhaps the most interesting stuff is at the end of the article:

A police dispatch log then indicates that the dancer showed up at the Duke emergency room at 2:31 a.m. and entered Duke Hospital at 2:45 a.m.

[Defense attorney Bill] Thomas said the second dancer described her as being highly intoxicated. In addition, the woman never complained about being raped as the two dancers drove away from North Buchanan Boulevard, Thomas quoted the co-dancer as saying.

It remains unclear where the accuser was between being taken away by police to the “drunk tank” from Kroger at approximately 1:30 until her appearance at the Duke Hospital ER an hour later. However, with this new information it may be opportune to come up with a new integrated timeline.

The account also indicates that, in the first photo of the dancers at the party, taken at midnight, ”[b]ruises are clearly visible on the legs and thighs of the alleged victim.”

Also of interest is this snippet of a report at the NBC 17 website; the most interesting part is bolded:

Defense attorneys said two police investigators got into Edens Residence Hall at about 7 p.m. Thursday by grabbing a door as it closed behind a student that had just entered. The dormitory doors are usually secured and require a swipe card to open.

The attorneys said the investigators acted friendly toward the players and inquired who was at the party. The defense contends that police are trying to nail down a suspect after District Attorney Mike Nifong said this week that the woman positively identified one of her attackers from a photo lineup last week.

But attorneys also noted that three people at the party aren’t on the lacrosse team, and none of them have submitted DNA samples to authorities for testing.

Make of that what you will… but this is the first clear statement by anyone that non-players were at the party.

Friday, 14 April 2006

ESPN issues reporter upgrade

I noticed on Friday’s SportsCenter that ESPN has swapped out reporters for the Duke lacrosse scandal, replacing some black guy whose name I never learned with SN fave Rachel Nichols. Suddenly I feel the need to start hanging out behind the Bryan Center… nothing against the other reporter (who may or may not be named George Smith; Google is no use), just that he was so non-descript I am pretty sure I walked right past him yesterday without really being sure it was him.

More odds and ends

I’m waiting to go on-air for a CNN interview that should air on their “On The Story” program over the weekend… assuming the birthday party over at my neighbors’ isn’t so loud they kick me off the program. In the meantime, more minor tidbits:

Odds and ends

In lieu of content, have some free bullet points:

  • In today’s Chronicle op-ed columnist Boston Cote goes after English and African-American Studies prof Houston Baker again; it’s really a sight to behold. Good thing for her that, unlike some places, the faculty at Duke don’t get to vote on granting degrees…
  • I have no independent link to this, but MSNBC’s Dan Abrams apparently has a copy of the defense photos from the house timestamped between 12:00 and 12:41 on the night of the party; they are consistent with what the defense has said about them in the past.
  • An athlete (not a lacrosse player) in one of my classes today indicated, apparently on the authority of the campus grapevine, that at least part of the reason why the players were angry at the female dancers is that they were not expecting two minority women to be sent by the escort service. This doesn’t square with other accounts that an escort service would only send minorities by special request, although I guess it’s possible that the low-end services they made use of don’t represent any white performers.
  • Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Tom Maguire wasn’t much of a lacrosse fan to begin with, while TalkLeft notes the (apparent) new searches Thursday evening and SSquirrel tries on a conspiracy theory for size, although I expect you could probably find Democratic ties to some of the players’ parents too if you tried hard enough; nor does that really explain why CNN and MSNBC would be hitting the case as hard as Fox. (Incidentally, I disagree with the last poster’s choice to reveal the names of players who, as of this point, have not been accused of a crime.)

Police attempted more dorm searches Thursday?

From the AP:

Police attempted to search the dorm rooms of Duke University lacrosse players amid an investigation into the alleged rape of an exotic dancer at a team party, the school’s president said Friday.

President Richard Brodhead said he was just learning about the Thursday night search attempts and didn’t have many details, including whether investigators had search warrants and if they actually entered any rooms.

“I am aware that police attempted to enter those rooms, and I am now about to leave this news conference to learn the whole story,” Brodhead said.

There were no warrants for any dorm rooms at Duke among those returned to the Durham County magistrate’s office Friday morning, although police have 48 hours after executing a warrant to return it. The court clerk’s office was closed for the Good Friday holiday. Police said they would not release any information Friday.

Defense attorney Joe Cheshire, who represents one of the team’s captains, said he didn’t know anything about the searches, but called them a waste of time.

“Now, whether there are other issues as to it relates to issues like drinking and partying and those things, I’ve got no clue,” Cheshire said. “But if it relates to sexual assault, they can search ‘til the cows come home.”

WRAL further indicates that “police were trying to question some players Thursday, but that there was no warrant for a search of players’ rooms” according to defense attorneys.

At present, it is unclear what police were looking for, although one could speculate that they are trying to find copies of the photos the defense has claimed are exculpatory (but has not shown or released to the public); presumably any incriminating evidence would have been removed or destroyed in the month since the party.

It may also be another dimension of what some have believed is an effort to intimidate the lacrosse team members; Thursday’s edition of The Abrams Report on MSNBC reported that an email was sent to about half of the lacrosse team that appeared to be from one of the other players who claimed he was going to police. The email was believed to be a forgery because it was dated April 14th (today) and the player in question was apparently in class at the time it was sent, according to his attorney.

Finally, if you thought the Tawana Bradley comparisons were premature, the news that a key figure in that case may be paying Durham a visit might change your views somewhat:

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the New York City-based civil-rights activist, may visit Durham in the next few days to speak out on allegations that a black woman was raped last month by members of Duke University’s lacrosse team.

As of Thursday afternoon, Sharpton hadn’t scheduled a visit. But he had been invited to make the trip by “local community members and pastors,” said Rachel Noerdlinger, the minister’s spokeswoman.

Noerdlinger said Sharpton’s travel plans “are just being shaped” and that the proposed trip to Durham was “under strong consideration.”

Update: John in Carolina is none too thrilled that Sharpton may be headed to the Bull City.

Thursday, 13 April 2006

House's rule

I’ve had a little bit of fun with Ruth Sheehan in the past, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you in the direction of her News & Observer column from today. I’m not sure if it’d be worse if the allegations were untrue, but I do think it would be quite disturbing. That said, I think we all hope and pray that this woman really wasn’t assaulted, much less that she was assaulted by people that are part of our community—in particular, the possibility that I may have taught one of the assailants is almost too horrible to contemplate.

The catchphrase of Greg House is “everybody lies.” As a professor, I probably get lied to at least once a day; there’s the occasional whopper, like the student I had at Millsaps who fabricated a whole conversation with me to get out of a co-curricular commitment she made, but most are rather more mundane. The whoppers are rare, but they do happen. I really don’t know whether to hope this is one of those or not.

Responding officer: victim was “passed out drunk,” did not need medical attention

Tim Whitmire of the AP reports that the one of the responding officers to the Kroger 911 call found the alleged victim to be highly intoxicated:

A woman who claims she was raped by members of Duke University’s lacrosse team was described as “just passed-out drunk” by one of the first police officers to see her, according to a recording of radio traffic released Thursday.

The conversation between the officer and a police dispatcher took place about 1:30 a.m. March 14, about five minutes after a grocery store security guard called 911 to report a woman in the parking lot who would not get out of someone else’s car.

The officer gave the dispatcher the police code for an intoxicated person. When asked whether the woman needed medical help, the officer said: “She’s breathing and appears to be fine. She’s not in distress. She’s just passed out drunk.”

Meanwhile, different attorneys for different lacrosse players have reached different conclusions as to whether DA Mike Nifong will seek an indictment at the grand jury on Monday; the grand jury will also meet in two weeks, on May 1, the day before the Democratic primary which likely will decide the Durham County DA’s race. Speaking of the DA, some people actually want him to briefly come out of hiding to say something substantive about the case:

Outside of a forum at North Carolina Central University and a district attorney’s candidate forum Wednesday night, Nifong has not spoken publicly about the case. He has not granted a substantive interview in more than a week, even declining to clarify remarks he made at the N.C. Central forum that left Ekstrand and others confused about where the case stands.

For example, Nifong said at the forum “there was no identification of any member of that lacrosse team until last week.” But it wasn’t clear if he was referring to a positive identification made by the alleged victim, or the release of a court document that included an e-mail sent by a lacrosse player, who was identified in the document.

Later in the forum, Nifong told a questioner who asserted the victim had positively identified her three attackers that her information was wrong.

“I think everything the prosecution has said in this case had been unreliable,” Ekstrand said Thursday.

Finally, ABC 11 reports that grafitti was found near the NC Central Campus using “a racial slur” and the term “Duke #1.”

Lowering the profile of the media circus

Silly me thought the media circus was gone—until I wandered over to the Bryan Center to mail some Easter cards and found four satellite trucks parked in the vistors’ parking lot, in addition to Dan Abrams and (I think) that ESPN guy whose name I haven’t learned yet (George something or other, I think). I hope Duke is charging them all $2/hour per parking slot, like we peons would have to pay, but somehow I doubt it.

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Mike Nifong: destroying the community's image in order to save it

The walking embarrassment that is our current district attorney let out another whopper at tonight’s DA candidate forum:

“The reason that I took this case is because this case says something about Durham that I’m not going to let be said,” said Nifong. “I’m not going to allow Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.”

Leaving aside that this statement fails to make logical sense, I think it would also be a fair statement that if the world’s view of Durham is “a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl” then that view was largely created by Nifong’s hyperbolic claims and irresponsible behavior during the investigation—which, of course, this statement is another instance of. Even the alleged victim only claims there were three rapists, which is well short of “a bunch,” and she couldn’t even identify any of them (no doubt by sheer coincidence) until their photos had been plastered across the front page of the News & Observer three weeks after the incident.

The bottom line in this case is that if it is ever proved in a court of law that a rape did occur at the hands of young men present at the party at 610 North Buchanan, something that is certainly within the realm of possibility even given the apparent absence of DNA evidence, reliable testimony by the alleged victim, or credible corroborating witnesses, it will largely be in spite of—not due to—the efforts of Mike Nifong.

Black, Bishop double-team Nifong at forum

It’s been a relatively slow news day, but there are still a few developments worth noting in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation:

  • Both of DA Mike Nifong’s opponents in his May 2 Democratic primary contest took shots at the prosecutor at an election forum this evening in Durham.
  • Local attorney Bill Thomas, who represents one of the men’s lacrosse players, expects at least one player to be indicted by the grand jury.
  • The News & Observer talks about the second round of DNA tests—apparently not being conducted by the state crime lab—and reports skepticism from defense attorneys on Nifong’s statement that the the alleged victim has identified a suspect in the case.
  • Last, but not least, the hiring of Bob Bennett as the spokesman for a newly-formed group called the “Committee for Fairness to Duke Families” has raised a few eyebrows.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Poach your own coach

To the extent I care about University of Memphis basketball—i.e. absolutely zero—I am happy that John Calipari will not be moving to Raleigh to coach the N.C. State Wolfpack. At least it means that there’s still a slim chance I’ll see a celebrity at mom’s church next time I go.

Linkage, it's a good thing reports details from an anonymous “source” at the Duke University Hospital emergency room—see the sidebar:

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, was present at the hospital on the night of the alleged incident and says the woman was “beat up” but would not immediately divulge to anyone the identity of her alleged assailants.

“She was hysterical,” the source said. “She was crying, she was pretty banged up. She said she was sexually assaulted, but she didn’t say by whom.”

The source says the woman entered the hospital well after midnight March 13 wearing a red nightgown and nothing on her feet. She was walking on her own, but there were bruises on her face, neck, and arms. ...

According to the source, the woman did not immediately inform either the police or the hospital staff who inflicted the injuries to her.

“She never said one thing about Duke, any athlete or anything,” the source said. “She just kept hollering and screaming. She never said who did it.”

The woman was discharged after approximately five hours.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Margaret Soltan has put together some thoughts on the case that are worth reading.

Finally, if you feel the need to discuss the Duke lacrosse rape allegations in all their detail, go to the CourtTV website where they have a whole forum where the minutae of the case are being dissected.

My case will go on and on

Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong is channeling Celine Dion (or perhaps Don Quixote) today, promising that “this case is not going away” at a forum on the rape allegations this morning at NC Central University that he parachuted into at the last minute (see also WRAL). The Herald-Sun account shares the following gems from Nifong:

Nifong said further DNA tests are being conducted and that the woman making the allegations has identified at least one lacrosse player as an attacker.

“I hope you will understand by my presence here this morning that the case is not going away,” Nifong said. DNA results can be helpful, but DNA evidence is absent in 75 to 80 percent of cases, he said. They also can clear the innocent, which remains an important consideration, after the March 13 team party at which team members admit hiring two exotic dancers. One of them told police three men took her into a bathroom of the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where they beat and raped her.

“Until we identify all three of those people, that means some of these young men are going to be walking around under a cloud,” Nifong said.

But, he said later, in response to a comment in a question-and-answer that police and prosecutors arrest black suspects more quickly than whites in such cases: “There was no identification of any member of the lacrosse team until last week” and that identification of an attacker in this case will be a question for a jury to decide.

“There was no identification of any member of the lacrosse team until last week.” I am beyond speechless. Either Nifong is letting a guy who he knows has been identified as a rapist just run around free (way to ensure the safety of the community!), or he’s completely full of shit.

The good news is that in three weeks this idiot will be out of our collective misery, when the voters of Durham County run his ass out of town on a rail. The bad news is that until then we get three more weeks of this idiot in our collective misery.

Jacob Levy on Walt and Mearsheimer

An interesting post that just showed up in Google Reader is this lengthy reaction by Jacob Levy to Walt and Mearsheimer’s piece on the Israel lobby; I think here’s the meat of Levy’s argument:

They proceed to address this puzzle [of favorable U.S. policy towards Israel] with a slippery—I do not say sloppy—ambiguity between explanatory and evaluative claims.

The mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest to bring it about.

This is, I think, the worst paragraph of political science I’ve read in many years. The best, most-justified policies don’t automatically spring into being at the end of the policy-making process. An all-things-considered judgment that X is the best policy is essentially irrelevant to one’s ability to predict whether or not X will be adopted. Political and policy-making actors aren’t, indeed couldn’t possibly be, such purely disinterested promoters of the public good that they could promote it all the time without any organized support—even assuming that they all agreed with each other, and with M&W, about what the public good consisted of. They often need organizational and material support from interest groups even to do [what they take to be] the right thing. ... From the fact that a policy needed a lobby to support it, one can infer nothing about the policy’s justifiability.

Not to mention that the authors missed a good opportunity to use the subjunctive voice. What writer on earth would pass that up?

Monday, 10 April 2006

Everything I need to know I learned on the east-west bus

Here’s your conspiracy theory/rumor/gospel truth of what really went down at the party courtesy of LiveJournal; your mileage may vary:

Going home, I got on the bus to East campus and sat in the back, like I always do so I can be facing forward, and a young lady sat down next to me commenting, “maybe this isn’t the safest place on the bus.” I agreed and then told her about the rumor I’d heard saying the [bus] fire was arson, which was untrue, and then about the letter to the editor I read.

She replied that one of her friend’s boyfriend is on the team and he says only a few lacrosse players were at that party, that it was “mostly frat boys”, and none of the team had anything to do with the rape.

Link via here, which I found out because of an inbound link complaining about one of Igor’s comments. Gotta love Technorati.

It's not over until the fatheaded DA sings

The News & Observer reports that Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong hasn’t quite thrown in the towel on making rape charges against the players at the party:

Nifong said the DNA results do not end anything.

“I’m not saying it’s over. If that’s what they expect, they will be sadly disappointed,” Nifong said at a candidate forum Monday night. “They can say anything they want, but I’m still in the middle of my investigation. … I believe a sexual assault took place.”

Neither Nifong nor the defense lawyers would release the results.

The Herald-Sun’s account indicates that Nifong may have some difficulty in making the case in the absence of DNA evidence:

Stan Goldman, who teaches criminal law, evidence and criminal procedure at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the DNA results don’t mean that Nifong can’t go forward with the case—but the test results make a successful prosecution much harder.

“Isn’t the absence of DNA evidence, given the way the victim has described the crime, in and of itself almost enough to raise a reasonable doubt?” he said. “That’s all the defense has to do.”

And, of course, people will continue to believe what they want to believe anyway…

On a related note, I sat down for an interview with freelance writer and Duke alum Dana Vachon, who’s working on a story for Salon (and possibly another story for Men’s Vogue) on the rape allegations, this evening at the Joyce; I think you’ll find his story quite interesting when it comes out, if the tidbits I heard this evening are any indication. As for what I had to say… we shall see.

Being a pundit means you never have to say you're sorry

Opinions are like assholes—everyone has one:

Wendy Murphy, a former Massachusetts prosecutor and adjunct professor at Boston’s New England School of Law who teaches a seminar on sexual violence, said releasing details of the photos was a sign that lawyers were worried the DNA testing would produce a match with some of the players.

“If the DNA isn’t going to match, they wouldn’t need to do this,” she said. “It’s almost comical that they think a photograph is proof positive that a rape didn’t happen. It’s not a smoking gun. It’s a muddying of the waters.”

Bad timing, it’s a wonderful thing.


Laura of Survival Theory reports, and the AP confirms, that the state crime lab has forwarded the results of the DNA tests in the Duke lacrosse rape case to the Durham County DA’s office, where “copies were being made Monday afternoon for defense attorneys.” And so the waiting game begins.

Update: The players’ attorneys released the DNA evidence this afternoon—no matches. One third of Craig Newmark’s predictions thus have become true.

The Chronicle’s account has some more details, for the morbidly curious; two players’ DNA was found in the bathroom, but it was their house and they shared the bathroom. Also from the account:

"No DNA material from any young man tested was present on the body of this complaining woman," lawyer Wade Smith said. "Not present in the body, not present on the surface of her body, belonginigs or materials she had on her, including her clothing."

There was no DNA of the alleged victim found in the bathroom of 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. residence, added Joe Cheshire, a lawyer representing senior captain Dave Evans and resident of the Buchanan house.

Duke under siege, day fifteen: we have a scapegoat, and his name is Alleva

Today’s Duke Chronicle editorial calls for the firing of AD Joe Alleva as a response to the culmination of scandals involving both the men’s lacrosse and baseball programs. They also go with the photos story, despite (again) not having seen the photos themselves, and report on a protest across from the 610 house by members of a local church, which explains why I saw a camera crew setting up there during my Sunday afternoon walk.

In not-entirely-unrelated news, one of Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong’s opponents in the May 2 primary has been subpeonaed in an appeal of a decade-old murder case:

Former Assistant District Attorney Freda Black has been subpoenaed to explain in court today why she allegedly broke a promise to a murder suspect years ago, and also to answer allegations that she checked another homicide defendant out of the county jail, drove him around town and treated him to chicken and pizza.

The allegations are contained in court paperwork filed by convicted killer Gregory Wayne Bagley, who is serving a life prison sentence and now contends he deserves a new trial.

Bagley says he was convicted in 1994 not because he was guilty, but “due to devious, deceptive, malicious acts” and trickery by Black. He implies that her kindness toward the other homicide suspect, Alton Antonio Bell, was an attempt by Black to sweet-talk Bell into testifying against him.

Considering that Nifong will be lucky to get any votes in the primary at this point—the black community and the Righteous Townie set don’t think he’s done enough (going into hiding for the last week probably wasn’t the best election strategy), and the innocent-until-proven-guilty crowd thinks he’s a grandstanding fool—I guess we can just go ahead and give this thing to African-American attorney Keith Bishop. The winner of the primary is unopposed in the general election; you’ve gotta love the one party South.

Sunday, 9 April 2006

More on the photos

Joseph Neff of the News & Observer reports additional details on the photos the lacrosse players’ attorneys claim are exculpatory based on an account by attorney Joe Cheshire. There are definitely more details than previous accounts, and not all of them are all that flattering to the team:

The lacrosse players line the room, drinking out of beer cans and plastic cups, and one photo shows a player unconscious on the floor, his shorts pulled down and his underwear wet.

And we have an echo of scandals past:

Cheshire said the time-stamped photos have a 27-minute gap between when the two women stopped dancing and when the accuser was photographed outside the house. During that period, the dancers locked themselves in a bathroom and then went outside, he said.

I suppose I’m baffled that the media would run with a story based on a few attorneys’ descriptions of photographs; given the photos’ content, however, I suppose the lawyers don’t want to make them public unless absolutely necessary, but my suspicion is that they’ll have to come out at some point unless Nifong drops the case.

This 27-minute gap in the photos seems just a wee bit weird, as well. I’ll leave the Nixon jokes to others… but there are certainly ways to tell if photos were deleted from the camera’s memory cards, and perhaps even recover deleted pictures. (On the other hand, if you were forging timestamps on pictures, you would probably make the 27-minute gap shrink and “discredit” the accuser’s story by “showing” she was only in the bathroom for 3–5 minutes.) Color me skeptical on the verbal accounts of these photos until they’re shown to someone more impartial.

Cheshire’s account does, however, make more sense than the accuser’s in at least one regard; as I’ve noted before, the two dancers arrived separately, yet left together. The accuser’s account fails to explain why the second dancer (who didn’t even know her) would wait around for 30 minutes outside the house while she was still inside; the defense story indicates that both women left around the same time.

If the timestamps on the photos are valid—a big “if,” mind you—it would also confirm the timeline as being closer to my speculative timeline, because it has the women gone from the house by 12:15 or so, putting them who-knows-where for the next hour and change until they show up at Kroger. The timestamps also would turn the nosy neighbor’s account of the times he saw/heard things into complete garbage.

The other question—where did the guys go? Assume they broke up the party by 12:30; Ryan McFadyen doesn’t send his idiotic email for another 90 minutes, give or take. Some probably went home. Did some of them go to their reputed hangout, Charlie’s, just a few blocks to the west? Witnesses?

My weird sense of humor, almost in action

I went shopping today at Southpoint, and outside Barnes and Noble a street performer called “Juggleboy” was, um, juggling, with some Eurotrash rock in the background. I was 99% tempted to shout “it’s not a trick, it’s an ILLUSION!” at the top of my lungs, but I didn’t want to be evicted from the property. Plus, nobody would have gotten it anyway…

Around the blogosphere

Thanks to Silflay Hraka and John in Carolina for their kind words and links; both have interesting posts of their own on the Duke lacrosse rape allegations (which I linked earlier this sentence) that are worth reading.

Steven Taylor and Bryan S. take different sides on the issue of leaks; I think Bryan has the better argument:

“Unnamed Sources” damage the credibility of journalists, who often use such sources on stories that have absolutely no real need for such anonymous sourcing. From a political perspective, leaking is not so problematic. From the journalism perspective, it is a cancer on the Washington press corps, which has shown itself craven by not refusing such charades.

On the lighter side, Joy went to see Death Cab and Franz Ferdinand on Saturday night and has reactions to the evening. Now if I can just get tickets for Jimmy Eat World’s next tour my belated transformation into an emo kid will be complete.

Why a self-imposed death penalty for lacrosse makes sense

In my previous post, I speculated that Duke’s men’s lacrosse program will go the way of the dodo, stating the following reasoning:

It is not particularly popular in the region; it doesn’t recruit a very ethnically diverse pool of athletes; and it loses money. Getting rid of the program would also help Duke improve its Title IX situation and save the headache of searching for a new coach.

The first three points are self-evident; I need not belabor them. The Title IX issue is worth some discussion; the NCAA has recently adopted a rule modeled on that of the SEC requiring Division I institutions to have two more womens’ sports than mens’ sports, and while the NCAA has said that cutting mens’ sports is not a desirable approach to achieving this standard, in practice mens’ sports have been cut to help achieve it.

When you combine that fact with the need to find a new coach, and the negative publicity that will dog the team for the coming years—even if the rape charges are proved beyond any shadow of a doubt to be fabrications, the other repellent behavior by team members is embarrassing enough—cutting the university’s losses may simply be the prudent course of action, not as punishment but just to save money and foster better community relations.

What to do when the dust settles

At some point—perhaps in a few days, perhaps in a few months—the Duke lacrosse rape allegations will be resolved, at least in terms of the criminal issues. The question arises as to what Duke should do then. Dealing with the players is the easy stuff (these expectations are my predictions and are not normative):

  • Any players charged with battery, assault, or the like will almost certainly be expelled from the university (or suspended indefinitely, with expulsion to follow upon conviction). Even if acquitted, I doubt they would be welcome to return to the university.
  • Other players present at the party probably won’t be expelled; I would expect any players with past disciplinary issues to be suspended from the university for a semester or year, and others to receive some probationary sanction. If no charges for violent offenses are filed against any players, I would expect any player present at the party to be subject to these sanctions.
  • Ryan McFadyen will probably be allowed to return to the university if no rape or battery charges are filed against anyone. My guess is that he probably will choose not to return, though.

What is to be done about the men’s lacrosse program and athletics in general? Assume, for the sake of argument, that it is decided there has been a lack of institutional control over student-athletes’ behavior—which probably is a fair assessment. If that is the case, I think a number of solutions present themselves:

  • I expect that Duke will abandon running a men’s lacrosse program. It is not particularly popular in the region; it doesn’t recruit a very ethnically diverse pool of athletes; and it loses money. Getting rid of the program would also help Duke improve its Title IX situation and save the headache of searching for a new coach. I expect this decision to be made soon; in fact, I suspect it has already been decided, probably as a condition of AD Joe Alleva keeping his job.
  • I expect that student athletes will be required to live on campus for four years starting in August 2007. If this requires letting other students out of the six-semester obligation in order to have sufficient housing over the short term, so be it.
  • Student-athletes will probably also be housed across campus and not allowed to be concentrated in particular quads. They might even be barred from living on Central, which might require letting non-athlete sophomores live on Central.

I also expect that many suggestions for “consciousness raising,” “encouraging substance-free living,” and “diversity awareness” will be made, and accepted, by the committees studying these issues. No doubt these proponents will overlook the fact that the men’s lacrosse team was, if anything, exposed more to these things than most students—and they proved completely ineffective in curbing their abhorrent behavior.

Over the long term, I expect that the six-semester requirement to live on campus will be replaced by an eight-semester requirement for all students, which will finally snuff out the “unofficial fraternities.” This, of course, will require additional housing space, but the university has plenty of empty land on West and East (if necessary) to construct the additional needed beds, in addition to the net addition of beds already planned for Central. If this means that Pratt has to forgo increasing enrollment for now, they’ll survive.

The end result: a Duke that has retreated further within its walls as a protective measure to ensure that these problems don’t recur. Is that a good thing? I don’t know; I think a bit more interaction between Duke’s students and the wider community would be, on average, a good thing, even if the students who the community encounters in their neighborhoods haven’t always been the best ambassadors the university has to offer. But I think a bit of disengagement from the neighborhoods around East may be an important first step in reducing the enmity between Duke and the wider community—and if that hurts the 9th Street Merchants’ Association, so be it.

College kids drank, had parties with strippers; News at 11

Today’s News & Observer breathlessly reports that under ex-coach Bill Hillier, the Duke baseball team “had trouble with heavy drinking, rowdiness and academic problems.” Reporter Ned Bennett goes on to say that, after canning Hillier,

the university did not undertake the kind of sweeping assessment of its athletic culture that has been triggered by the lacrosse team. Had it done so, it might have uncovered conditions similar to what led to the lacrosse incident. The baseball players, too, had a practice of bringing strippers to team parties.

“We always had parties at the baseball house,” said DeMarco, now a graduate student at Fairfield University. “The thing to do was to get strippers.”

At a party he attended, DeMarco said, the dancer brought an imposing male bodyguard.

“I remember that night with the stripper,” he said. “There were video cameras, some big, tough guy there guarding her. It was pretty shady.”

Is this evidence of a lack of institutional control, or just part of an effort by the N&O to further poison (if that’s even possible at this point) town-gown relations?

SN scoops Newsweek

An interesting passage from this week’s Newsweek article on the case:

Two sources close to the team, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that the e-mail was a reference to a movie called “American Psycho.” In the movie, which the sources described as a cult favorite that had been viewed by a number of players on the team, a Wall Street banker goes crazy and kills several women, though possibly only in his dreams. After seeing the e-mail, sent on McFadyen’s e-mail account, one of the team members remarked, “I’ll bring the Phil Collins music,” the sources said. In “American Psycho,” the killer delivers a tribute to the music of pop singer Collins as he cavorts with intended victims.

The sources suggested that the e-mail was intended as an ironic joke. If so, that may say something about the humor of Duke lacrosse players. College students, and not just athletes, can be astonishingly raunchy and degraded in their recreational behavior. Interestingly, McFadyen was seen at a Take Back the Night rally held by Duke students protesting sexual violence and the alleged rape itself two weeks after the incident.

Advantage, SN.

Duke under siege, day fourteen: defense claims photos exculpatory

Sunday’s Herald-Sun reports that attorneys for players accused in the Duke lacrosse rape case have photos taken at the party that contradict the victim’s account of events:

The photos show the woman attempting to get back inside the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. where the attack allegedly occurred on the night of March 13–14, said attorney Bill Thomas, who represents one of the lacrosse players.

“She had a big smile on her face,” Thomas said.

Then the woman fell down at the back door of the house and lay on the ground “for quite some time” as if she were intoxicated or asleep, Thomas added.

In addition, the time-stamped photos indicate the woman was severely bruised on her legs and face, and had cuts on her legs, knees and feet when she arrived at the home—and before the rape allegedly occurred—Thomas said.

One wonders if the photos siezed by the police in their two searches are consistent with—or contradict—these. Without some serious forensic investigation of the source media, forging the timestamps on pictures to make them look like they were taken at a time other than when they actually were is almost trivial. And even if the woman did arrive at the party with visible bruising and cuts, that doesn’t necessarily mean she wasn’t raped at the party.

Another story looks at the trial-by-media atmosphere surrounding the case.

At the Herald-Sun’s competitor, in the silence of Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong, the News & Observer tries its hand at a bit of jury tampering of its own:

But taken as a body of work, the charges track the noisy passage of a championship lacrosse team with a reputation for a swaggering sense of entitlement and privilege. They underscore the hard-drinking image of the Duke lacrosse team—which some residents say is a super-sized version of the university’s elitist, party-hearty ethos.

“There is a culture at Duke of an entitlement to be drunk in the evenings and on the weekends,” said Robert Panoff, a former Notre Dame club lacrosse player who has lived for more than a decade in Trinity Park, the neighborhood on the edge of Duke’s east campus where the lacrosse team captains lived.

“That’s the attitude that pervades the Duke campus, and it’s not just the lacrosse team,” said Panoff, founder and executive director of a nonprofit research and education organization. “There is a particular swagger at Duke. Is there a particular machismo and variation of that swagger on the lacrosse team? Absolutely.”

Panoff is quick to point out that lacrosse is not a monolithic culture. But for other Durham residents, the lacrosse imbroglio has raised racial tensions.

Saturday, 8 April 2006

WRAL confirms first 911 caller definitely second dancer

Although it’s not a huge deal at this point, WRAL has confirmed defense claims that the woman responsible for the first 911 call (allegedly from passersby complaining about people at the house at 610 Buchanan using the “n-word” in reference to them) is the same woman identified as “Kim” heard in the background of the second 911 call from the Kroger security guard. WRAL also indicates that police have interviewed “Kim,” but no specifics from the interview have been divulged, although presumably the timeline of events in the two search warrants are based on the accounts of Kim and the alleged victim.

This clarifies one question I received today from a reader, who wondered why the police or DA had not made a specific appeal for the first 911 caller to come forward, even though having an additional eyewitness to the party would have been helpful.

It also raises a second question that’s been swirling around in my head. This account, like all others, says she “only met the victim that night at 610 North Buchanan.” They worked for separate agencies, and presumably didn’t know that the other was going to be there. Yet both women left in “Kim’s” car—this seems indisputable; in fact, it’s about the only thing everyone agrees on besides the existence of the party. How did the victim get to 610 North Buchanan at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday night? DATA? Taxi? Did she drive herself, or get a ride? The warrants are of no help; neither lists “car keys” as an item to be located, and while the first warrant included a “purse” as an item to be searched for, none was located.

Just another of those little puzzle pieces that’s bothering me… and it’s probably insignificant.

Friday, 7 April 2006

Cameron Rocks!

Tonight’s concert featuring Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie was great, and well worth the 25 bucks, even if I think I was about the oldest person in my section—and I’m even not that old. It was particularly nice to see Duke undergraduates behaving like the vast, vast majority of Duke undergrads do when they’re not hitting the books—having a good time with their friends while behaving like responsible young men and women. Normally I wouldn’t comment on such things, but after the last few weeks it bears noting.

Duke Lacrosse Investigation

If you’re new to the blog, all of the posts related to the Duke lacrosse investigation are here. Please also read below the fold for a few groundrules.

I recommend the CourtTV discussion board for this case if you want to discuss the intricacies of the evidence.

A new tagline

The boss just suggested a new tagline for the blog: “All lacrosse dicks, all the time.” I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty catchy.

I’m hoping, though, that I’ll soon be able to return to sane, normal stuff like mocking Chronicle articles on freshman student dining and inane student op-eds. Somehow, though, I suspect that Mike Nifong won’t let me off the hook that easily.

Who says the sum is less than its parts?

Boston Cote today proves that you can get a Duke education and turn out to be more intelligent than at least one of the college’s tenured faculty members:

On MSNBC, Rita Cosby pressed [professor of English and African-American Studies Houston] Baker for a practical solution in begging the question “what should be done?” Given his chance to finally say something constructive, Baker simply replied that we need “a restoration of confidence” in our institution.

I’m sorry, but that is not a practical solution. That’s not even an appropriate response to the question at hand. A “restoration of confidence” is not an action that “should be done.” A “restoration of confidence” is a consequence of what can be done. And unlike Brodhead, nowhere in his open letter or in his many media appearances did Baker offer a sensible proposal for how the University can help restore confidence in its intellectual or academic mission without resorting to the eradication of athletic programs.

Individuals and groups that feel slighted by the University’s moderate response to the allegations ought to be more proactive in their criticisms. It is shamelessly insufficient to claim: “The University has not done enough! Enough steps have not been taken!” Protesters ought to be drafting recommendations-not asking pointless rhetorical questions and answering them with more pointless rhetorical questions. Because frankly: You. Aren’t. Helping.

The rest of today’s Chronicle coverage is pretty meh; go and read it if you like, I don’t care. In big media, the situation is worse; the Herald-Sun at least is continuing to cover the story, but a look at the front page of the News & Observer website would leave you wondering if there were anything going on at Duke at all.

City code enforcement lax in Trinity Park

Well, well, well—it turns out that Durham’s going to have to shoulder at least some of the blame for the “out of control” student population in the neighborhoods around East; most egregious paragraph in bold:

[Council member Thomas] Stith’s point about a crackdown addressed neighborhood complaints that lax [not lacrosse – ed.] code enforcement by the city has contributed to a party atmosphere on the edge of campus.

In addition to police, who deal with overt disturbances of the peace, the job of enforcing Durham’s regulations belongs to the City/County Planning Department and the city Department of Housing and Community Development. The planning office handles zoning matters, while the housing department probes violations of Durham’s minimum housing code.

City/County Planning Director Frank Duke said Thursday that his department hadn’t received or investigated any complaints about 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. in the past four years, and had handled only two complaints targeting houses anywhere on North Buchanan Boulevard in that time.

Both those complaints targeted homes on the 700 block. One alleged that a house had too many occupants, but was dismissed because the landlord proved he was entitled to an exception because the practice was entrenched long before the city established a maximum number of occupants, Duke said.

The other alleged that Duke students living in a house had posted commercial beer signs on the building. Inspectors upheld the complaint and made the students remove the signs, Duke said.

A similar accounting was not forthcoming Thursday from the housing department.

Its director, Mike Barros, said he’d forwarded an inquiry from The Herald-Sun e-mailed to him on Tuesday to his assistant director, Constance Stancil, and that she was looking into the matter.

So, we have private property owners and leaseholders of legal contract age, and yet the university gets the blame for the rowdy behavior that goes on outside its jurisdiction. A pox on all my neighbors, student and Townie alike.

Thursday, 6 April 2006

Jock privilege

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the white, upper-class “preppy” origins of the Duke lacrosse athletes—heck, I’ve contributed somewhat to it myself—but I think there’s also an “athlete’s privilege.” People who excel at things can get away with things that the mediocre cannot—I know in my high school days I got away with a lot of stuff because I was smarter than the average student, and a similar (but magnified) privilege works for athletes. Allen Iverson would never have been allowed to set foot on Georgetown’s campus—they’d have called security on his ass, and rightly so given his criminal history—if he couldn’t dunk a basketball. Shelden Williams faced rape allegations before he came to Duke—you think he’d be here if he wasn’t an athlete? This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to athletes—Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and George Bush all got away with stuff because of political ties or family clout—but I dare say it’s more prevalent among athletes than anyone else.

Anyway, I found this related post in Google’s blog search and thought it was worth singling out.

Duke under siege, day twelve: the defense story emerges

Laura Collins of Survival Theory links a WRAL story that quotes Joe Cheshire, an attorney for Dave Evans, one of the Duke men’s lacrosse team captains, giving the partygoers’ side of the story:

Cheshire… said members of the highly ranked lacrosse team hired two dancers for a party on March 13 and paid the women $800 for their services, but that they did not provide the services they promised.

“These two girls were paid a tremendous amount of money to dance for two hours,” Cheshire said. “We can show, and will show if we have to, that they danced for only three minutes and decided to take all that money with them.”

The alleged victim told police she became fearful that night when the players became aggressive, and that is why she left. She told investigators that the men convinced her and the other dancer to go back inside the house, and that was when she was assaulted.

Cheshire said the men at the party were frustrated and angry, and points to an e-mail message recovered from [Ryan McFadyen]’s computer that was contained in a search warrant released Wednesday.

The message, Cheshire felt, was written out of frustration for an evening that did not live up to expectations. The e-mail, he said, shows nothing more.

“Some of the boys felt ripped off and angry,” Cheshire said. “And so they were angry. Were the words spoken inappropriate? Yes. Did any rape happen? No.”

Police also took other e-mails that also talked about the party, but not in an offensive manner, Cheshire said.

Cheshire also says ”[w]e’re absolutely positive that the [first 911] caller was not the accuser, but the other young lady there.”

Collins says:

So the attorney says that the woman danced for three minutes, took the $800, and lied and said she was raped. I could see someone claiming they were raped so they wouldn’t have to give up the money. Then again I can see it being easier to just take the money and go. If the men told the police that she stole their money, she could just say no. She could have just hidden it. Claiming rape when no rape occurred is a crime. If she’s lying she’s facing jail time. Wouldn’t you think any woman would know that? She would also have to consider all the publicity and the pain of having to go to court.

Damn peculiar. The “three minutes” claim doesn’t square with the public timeline of the case, although it’s more plausible if we buy that the “nosy neighbor” is imputing times from media accounts (primarily the 911 call times) rather than a reliable timekeeper. If we buy Cheshire’s timeline, and ignore the neighbor, we have something like this for March 13th/14th; times in bold are established by police:

  • 11:30: women show up at house. (This may be the booking time, in which case we could treat it as more-or-less known.)
  • 11:35ish: women start dancing, quickly get pissed off (broomstick?), and stop.
  • 11:38ish: women leave; one is sweet-talked into returning into house.
  • 11:38–12:08ish: woman 1 is allegedly raped, woman 2 cools heels in car.
  • 12:08ish: woman 1 leaves, one player yells cotton shirt comment, women leave
  • 12:10ish: players skedaddle from house (Player emails start soon?)
  • 12:53: first 911 call from mystery woman, probably woman 1
  • 12:55: police show up at house, find evidence of party, nobody around
  • 1:06: police depart
  • 1:22: second 911 call from Kroger security guard on Hillsborough Rd
  • 1:58: Ryan McFadyen sends sick, depraved email from dorm room on campus

That leaves us somewhere from 45 to 75 minutes roughly unaccounted for. On the other hand, it’s more plausible than the women dancing for an additional 45 minutes and then deciding that the crowd is too rowdy. Still, I don’t buy this timeline; the women had to be there longer, or had to show up later, or something—McFadyen’s email is too irrational to have been sent over two hours after the end of the party; I’d think he’d have calmed down by then, although maybe meatheads remain angry longer than most people.

WRAL also reports that the alleged victim has a criminal record of her own that’s more substantial than previously revealed:

New information about the victim has been divulged, concerning charges arising from an incident that occurred several years ago. According to a 2002 police report, the woman, currently a 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University, gave a taxi driver a lap dance at a Durham strip club. Subsequently, according to the report, she stole the man’s car and led deputies on a high-speed chase that ended in Wake County.

Apparently, the deputy thought the chase was over when the woman turned down a dead-end road near Brier Creek, but instead she tried to run over him, according to the police report.

Additional information notes that her blood-alcohol level registered at more than twice the legal limit. ...

[Her former attorney Woody] Vann also said that the allegations that that his former client was trying to hit the sheriff’s deputy were in error, and that she was merely trying to turn around. The case was resolved when she admitted she made a mistake, paid restitution and served probation and some jail time.

This revelation doesn’t exactly square with the News & Observer’s front-page interview from March 25th with the alleged victim, in which it is strongly implied that she had only worked in the adult entertainment business for two months.

Thoughts on Ryan McFadyen

Partially inspired by UD’s post that notes Mr. McFadyen’s quotable presence at the “Take Back the Night” rally, here are my rough thoughts on the accusations against him, originally drafted in the form of a comment to her post—so go read that, then come back here. (I’m also violating my “don’t talk about students” rule, but he’s an ex-parrot at this point and I’ve never taught him myself and probably never will. Not to mention that I reserve the right to make exceptions.)

I think using the term “planned” (as Margaret did in her post) implies he intended to do what the email says. If he did plan to do kill and skin a pair of strippers, I doubt he’d have wanted who knows how many witnesses and incriminating emails. Nor would he do it in a dorm.

This reads like an email from a kid who thinks he got screwed (figuratively, not literally) by a stripper. Not to say he didn’t deserve to be punished—and I think the combination of his presence at the party, just given the established facts about he party, that two women were hired to “perform” in some way and that he engaged in underage drinking, and this dopey email (which doubtless violates the campus appropriate use policy) justifies some sort of punishment—and not to say that it’s some dispositive evidence that he knew nothing about the attack, but I think the idea he actually intended to kill anyone is risable. The email does prove he’s a meatheaded dipshit who has no business on a university campus again until he gets some serious therapy, though.

Incidentally, whatever lacrosse player (and, let’s be honest here, McFadyen only sent it other laxers, otherwise he would have signed it with something other than his jersey number) gave that email to the police did the right thing. I suspect there is much more cooperation with the authorities than Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong and the players’ attorneys would like to let on at this point. More, please.

Interesting items from NCCU's reporting

Commenter Igor provided a link to this article in Tuesday’s St. Petersburg Times that looks at the efforts of NCCU Campus Echo reporter Kristiana Bennett to get local residents to go on record with “unflattering things about the accuser… that defense attorneys hire[] private investigators to find.” Another Echo reporter talked with local escort services and found that it is unusual for adult entertainers to work without bodyguards or bouncers.

Continuing to work on the timeline

Ralph Luker links a NBC 17 story from last Friday that includes some quotes from an attorney representing one of the leaseholders on the 610 house that I hadn’t seen before (most interesting part bolded):

Meanwhile, defense attorneys continued on Friday to question the allegations of wrongdoing, including a 911 call made shortly before the alleged rape was reported.

In that call, a distraught woman said men in the house where the lacrosse team party was being held shouted racial slurs at her outside. Attorneys pointed out some discrepancies in the caller’s version of the incident and in the timing of the call.

“I listened to that first call, and I thought, ‘You called 911 because someone said something offensive to you?’ That’s just weird,” said Kerry Sutton, who represents lacrosse team member Matt Evans.

Evans is one of three captains of the team and lives at the Buchanan Boulevard house where the party was held. Sutton said Evans cleared out the house and locked it up when the party got too raucous.

“I believe my client. He says he didn’t do anything, and he believes nobody else did anything,” Sutton said. “No matter how this turns out, it’s a terrible thing for somebody.”

That explains why everyone disappeared from the house, although it doesn’t explain why nobody (including the nosy neighbor) seems to have witnessed it.

This raises the need to better pin down the timeline. Team member Ryan McFadyen’s email is apparently one of many sent in the period after the alleged rape went down, but the only one we have evidence of to this point. Duke’s email system records timestamps on every message passed through it, and all emails sent or received via the Duke email system require a username and password—so where’s the subpeona for all these records? Is it hiding somewhere under seal along with the search of McFadyen’s room, which only came to light because a student witnessed Durham police entering Edens 2C?

There were laptops and wireless cards siezed at the party—were there emails sent before, during, and after the entertainment? Not to mention timestamps on digital camera photos and call records and GPS locations of players’ cellphones—the latter of which would at least be able to show who (or whose phones) were there.

I’m not asking for a lot of Charlie Epps rocket science here… just the basics. Use the technology help to figure out what the hell actually was going on here, and cut out the nonsense.

Duke under siege, day eleven (early edition)

Today’s Herald-Sun, er, today: reports on the unsealed email sent by Ryan McFadyen and the resignation of Mike Pressler, both with all the quotes and reportage one might want to read about the case. They also report a statement by NCCU Chancellor James Ammons, in which he asks that Central students kindly refrain from beating on Cameron Crazies.

Related to this reporting is a brewing controversy about the timing of the unsealing of the warrant, during a period of self-imposed incommunicado by Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong; the dukeobsrvr thinks the decision to unseal the warrant was driven by Nifong lacking confidence in his case, while the Herald-Sun attributes the release to pending legal action by the paper’s attorney.

Mike Nifong: A uniter, not a divider

Duke student Allison Clarke thinks there’s one thing everyone, no matter their views on the Duke lacrosse situation, can get behind:

Within the maelstrom of guilt and blame and recrimination, there is a rock. I think it’s safe to say that everyone at Duke and in Durham believes in this one fundamental principle:

Mike Nifong is an asshat.

I sincerely believe that there is not a single living soul left in Durham County who has confidence in the DA. The reasons for this lack of confidence differ, but include the following:

The taking of DNA evidence en masse from team members before charges were filed violates their civil rights (bullshit);
By talking smack about the case all up and down the media Nifong is seriously reducing the probability of anyone getting a fair trial here, plus I think there’s something in his job description about not really talking to the press all that much, right?;
Nifong’s imminent re-election is of far more importance to him than the ultimate well-being of this woman;
Announcing the results of the DNA evidence would be released this week, no, last week, no, next week, no, this week, isn’t helping anyone to cope with any of this in a helpful way;
If he doesn’t keep his flipping mouth shut starting yesterday, the Very Expensive Defense Attorneys are going to find something they can latch onto to use against him and the woman will be denied justice for what will happen to her;

Meanwhile, President Brodhead has spoken, and there shall be a plethora of committees, and they shall go forth and multiply across the land. The bureaucratic impulse to apply the default mode of operation—for academics, the convening of committees—to any new problem strikes again. We shall have sanctimonious statements, lamentations about institutional culture, and all that fun jazz. All I can say is, thank God I’m leaving.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Season over, Pressler out, McFadyen apparently suspended

This just in to SN: the Herald-Sun reports that men’s lacrosse coach Mike Pressler has resigned and that the administration has decided to cancel the remainder of the lacrosse season, presumably in light of the latest developments in the case. The implication is also that Ryan McFadyen has been suspended from school on an interim basis, although apparently a direct statement of that action would violate FERPA.

More from the Chronicle here; brief statements from President Richard Brodhead and AD Joe Alleva are also online.

Duke under siege, day ten: the victim ID'd the attackers!?!

Brendan Nyhan points out a Charlotte Observer story that says that the alleged victim’s father went on Rita Cosby on Monday night and claimed that she had conclusively identified all three attackers. Brendan asks why 43 other players were asked to give DNA samples, but my question’s a little more fundamental: if three guys have really been picked out by the victim, why on earth aren’t they in jail? Then again, the father could be wrong.

More lacrosse morons

Well, now we know what that search in Edens 2C was all about:

Police obtained an e-mail from a confidential source sent from [Ryan] McFadyen’s Duke e-mail address March 14 at 1:58 a.m., right after the party.

“After tonight’s show, i’ve decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c,” the writer of the e-mail wrote, noting, however, there would be no nudity. “i plan on killing the [bitches] as soon as [they] walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off while [ejaculating] in my duke issue spandex.” [I slightly unredacted the Chronicle version of the quote here.]

Lovely. On the bright side, at least there would have been no nudity. And what’s up with the spandex reference?

The News & Observer provides their version of the story, which reports the defense angle on things:

Joe Cheshire, a lawyer representing one of the team captains, said the e-mail helps support the team's story. Team members told police, according to Cheshire, that they hired women to dance and those women left the party early.

"This e-mail, while the wording of it is, at best, unfortunate, if you read this e-mail and you also are aware of other e-mails that exist contemporaneous with these events, it's quite clear that no rape happened in that house," Cheshire said. "These boys were frustrated because they, as is already been reported, they thought these women had come and taken a bunch of money and started dancing and just decided to leave."…

Cheshire and other defense lawyers involved in the case have been critical of Nifong's public statements. He said the unsealing of the warrant today shows desperation on the part of investigators.

"If you see this case with things the police have not released, you see this case in a different light than the prosecutor going out there and saying, ‘they're guilty,'" Cheshire said. "Is it a horrible e-mail? Yes. Does it make the writer look good as a human being? Are there all kinds of moral and social issues that can be discussed about what went on that night? This e-mail does not in any way shape or form show that there was a violent sexual act that went on in that house. I would tell you that it in fact shows the opposite."

Sure, Joe, whatever…

Perhaps of more interest: the warrant for this search has more details on the allegations and the list of items siezed, including $60 cash and “piece of paper in vehicle — suckie suckie $5.00.” It also includes the full text of McFadyen’s email on page 7 of the warrant (I've adjusted the blockquote above accordingly).

Update: Aquaman writes:

I don't think this e-mail's author raped anyone. But the damage he's done to himself is just staggering. Think about it -- any future employer will Google him and find this. …

The author went to the prestigious Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, before moving on to Duke. Both schools are probably in the process of removing all web mentions of him right now.

The lesson? Save your insane ramblings and scary threats for the phone.

Update 2: There is some speculation here that the quote is a riff on something from either American Psycho or Fight Club; having seen neither, I cannot judge, but it certainly wouldn’t have been out of place based on these quotes from American Psycho. Not really sure that helps McFadyen’s case all that much, though.

Update 3: A commenter at Through a Glass Darkly says that the “suckie suckie $5.00” reference is from South Park.

Finally, a real criminal record

UD points to today’s New York Times, which finds that one of the Duke lacrosse players physically assaulted a man in Georgetown last fall and is currently in a diversionary sentencing program. Now, if only Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong could figure out some way to use this information to help him investigate the case (he allegedly went to law school—so hopefully he can figure this one out on his own), we might finally get somewhere.

Elsewhere, DukeObsrvr moves into new digs, the Chronicle editorial board takes shots at Nifong (stealing my schtick), a theme echoed in the letters to the editor, and the state NAACP president valiantly tries to make his organization relevant for the first time in a decade or so.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Myles Brand, earning his $850 grand

NCAA stooge Myles Brand, who may now become a leading contender for Captain Obvious, reacts to the Duke lacrosse rape allegations thusly:

NCAA president Myles Brand said behavior at a Duke men’s lacrosse party last month was inappropriate, regardless of whether the alleged assault of an exotic dancer results in criminal charges.

Meanwhile, people are joining together in support of the alleged victim and feeling the love over at NC Central:

“There’s a lot of potential violence once Central students really grab hold of this,” said Jami Hyman, a freshman from Winston-Salem. “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got shot or something.”

With comments like that, I’d be in retreat too.

Finally, we see a classic example of everyone reading whatever they want into the situation; case in point, Old North Durham neighborhood ringleader John Schelp manages to work in his peeve about "campus retail plans," his codeword for the Central Campus Redevelopment project, which some Righteous Townies think is a Duke Plot masterminded by Nan Keohane, Dick Brodhead, Tallman Trask, and the Trilateral Commission to wipe out the 9th Street retail corridor (such as it is) rather than a much-needed effort by the university to replace the armpit of campus with something vaguely aesthetic.

Duke under siege, day nine: meh

It’s another day without any satellite trucks parked in front of the Duke Chapel. A return to normalcy, or the eye of the storm? I don’t care; I have to deal with some grading and Duke’s IRB. Priorities, priorities.

Your daily Chronicle fix includes a report on Monday’s protest at North Carolina Central University, the historically-black public university where the alleged victim of the Duke lacrosse rape was a part-time student, a look at the effects, or lack thereof, on student recruitment, and a sports columnist ponders the value of non-revenue sports like men’s lacrosse in the wake of the rape allegations.

Last, but not least, go read the op-ed page, because fundamentally I’m too lazy to add all the links.

Monday, 3 April 2006


A couple of Duke lacrosse-related links for your edification before I turn in: a pseudononymous student posts his lengthy reaction, while Provost Peter Lange and Prof. Houston Baker have a frank exchange of views.

What I think

I generally make it a policy not to discuss, directly or obliquely, students in this blog. That said, I think I need to stake out a few positions (particularly for people who are new readers).

First and foremost, I tend to have a very snarky aspect of my personality that gets emphasized in the blog. You may find it inappropriate given the weighty subject matter of this case, but it’s just how I treat more or less everything that gets discussed here—most of all myself.

Let me make something else clear at the outset: I have no qualms about students—even those under the legal drinking age—consuming alcohol (or other drugs) in a responsible, restrained manner. I also have no objection to adults purchasing the services of other adult escorts, “private party performers,” and the like for fully consensual activities. I fundamentally subscribe to the libertarian harm principle—if one’s actions don’t cause harm to others, they should be legal. (This doesn’t resolve all issues or legality or morality, but it covers those at least.)

What is perfectly clear at this point is that the young men present at the party at 610 Buchanan (who may or may not be the same set of individuals as the men’s lacrosse team) behaved extremely poorly and went beyond the boundaries of good taste. It is also clear that there is strong evidence that the alleged victim experienced physical trauma consistent with rougher-than-typical sex, perhaps even rape. What is not perfectly clear at this point is that this woman was raped by three men who were at this party, much less three members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team.

There are a number of troubling aspects to the evidence in this case, many of which revolve around the timeline of events. We are to believe that at least 40 people disappeared completely from a house in a residential neighborhood in less than eight minutes (by the neighbor’s account), perhaps as few as two minutes (if the “passerby” responsible for the first 911 call was actually at the scene at the time the call was made and is not, as is widely believed, the driver/second performer), with nobody seeing where they went. We are also to believe that the driver waited outside for around 30 minutes for the alleged victim to emerge from the house, after already fleeing said house after hearing racial slurs and the subject of the broomstick was broached, apparently without the slightest curiosity about what was taking so long. We are also to believe that the driver and the victim decided to go on a 20-minute cruise through west Durham, in the opposite direction of the victim’s home, after the victim was allegedly assaulted.

Another aspect of the case that’s troubling is what was found—and not found—at the home on 610 Buchanan. The DA has asserted that the DNA evidence in the case may be insignificant because the attackers may have used condoms—yet no condoms were found, despite the police finding a veritable treasure trove of evidence left behind by the alleged victim. If there had been a rape at the house, would they get rid of the condoms—but not anything else, including the false nails that (according to the victim’s account) could have skin cells from one of the attackers? In addition, the most celebrated piece of evidence—the bottle of K-Y jelly—doesn’t even appear on the search warrant as an item to be siezed, even though it is an item you would think would have been mentioned in the victim’s account of the events.

The behavior of the county’s district attorney in the case has also been, to put it mildly, disturbing. He has sought DNA evidence from 46 people, potentially in violation of state law and the U.S. Constitution, then discounted whether the evidence will actually have any probitive value. If the victim had identified an attacker or attackers from the photos of the team members (which were available to Durham police from the Duke athletics website), the dragnet was inappropriate; if she hadn’t, that would be reasonably strong evidence than none of the lacrosse team members were responsible.

He has also insinuated that team members’ decisions to avail themselves of their constitutional right to legal counsel is somehow an effort to obstruct justice in the case. And, his interest in appearing before the cameras somehow dries up when he is asked to respond to these serious issues.

All that said, I’ll tell you something: the victim is probably telling the truth, and she probably was raped that evening (I don’t know if it happened at 610 Buchanan; it may have happened before or after she came to the house, perhaps even at the hands of other perpetrators). But the idiotic behavior of Mike Nifong and her companion that evening has poked enough holes in her case that, in the absence of DNA evidence, it is going to be exceedingly unlikely for anyone to be convicted in this case.

The one exception, of course, is if the “wall of silence” breaks down. I suspect, however, given Nifong’s tactics in this case, it will not. The African-American and Trinity Park communities in Durham are looking for scapegoats, and in the absence of DNA evidence anyone at that party (or on the team, save the lone black player) can be a scapegoat. My guess is that a conviction for obstruction of justice and underage drinking is much more appealing to these kids than the possibility of facing rape charges against a jury full of Righteous Townies, even if the jury verdict doesn’t hold up on appeal.

Of course, the acid test will be next week, when Nifong claims (at least now) that he will file charges. But I will be very surprised if he can identify three—and only three—alleged rapists.

The media's eye of the storm

Since there’s no real news today (again, doubtless because Mike Nifong is well away from the nearest camera), here’s the latest on the media navel-gazing.

Rush Limbaugh has helpfully lived up to his reputation as a big fat idiot by referring to the alleged victim in the case as a “ho.” Yet another person to add to the pile of media morons loosely connected with this case.

Meanwhile, another media crapstorm has emerged as the News and Observer’s public editor takes the paper to task for its decision to publish an unrebutted interview last week with the alleged victim in the case, a choice defended by the paper’s executive editor. One wonders about this little tidbit of the editor’s response:

We took care in editing the story not to introduce new accusations—the basics were the same as in police reports, which had already been made public.

This would seem to indicate that the alleged victim had additional accusations beyond those previously alleged—you don’t need to be careful if no more accusations were made.

In other N&O business, John in North Carolina notes that a person claiming to be the mother of one of the members of the lacrosse team has posted a comment to the blog of the paper’s Metro columnist, Ruth “Don’t Call Me Cindy” Sheehan, who has taken to the paper’s pages on two occasions to excorciate the whole men’s lacrosse team.

Nothing to do with lacrosse

I had the pleasure of presenting my research on the role of political sophistication in voting for third-party candidates in recent presidential elections this afternoon to the Duke PARISS seminar; I had a decent turnout of about a dozen faculty and graduate students, and got some very helpful feedback from the audience (particularly John Aldrich and Jorge Bravo).

For the morbidly curious, the paper and slides are downloadable from my political science page.

The Chronicle tries some community anthropology

There’s two rape investigation stories in today’s Duke Chronicle: probably the more interesting is this piece by Ryan McCartney, which looks at what the other half thinks of Duke. Included is what may rate as a candidate for Dumb Townie Quote of the Day:

“Most people have been upset about what’s happened in those houses for a long time,” said Trinity Heights resident Wendy Goldstein. “It’s almost like it’s over the wall-it’s the city’s problem.”

I’ve got news for you, Ms. Goldstein: over the wall, it is the city’s problem. These young people are legally adults, and they live on private property. It’s up to the city—not the Duke University administration—to be the primary enforcers of zoning regulations, noise ordinances, and the state alcohol laws. These kids are bad neighbors, by and large, because the City of Durham lets them get away with being bad neighbors by failing to enforce the existing housing codes and the like against the property owners and tenants.

In the other story, Adam Eaglin fills in the details on the reported assault on two Duke students at the Cook Out restaurant on Hillsborough Road, as well as reporting that Duke plans to continue the stepped-up DPD presence around the campus perimeter indefinitely. A sidebar also looks at the legality of the mass DNA testing that was ordered in the case.

On the op-ed front, the editorial board thinks some campus protesters have lost their grip on reality, while columns from Sara Oliver and Daniel Bowes are also worth a read. Finally, Jack Bauer’s Bidet has choice words for many principals and extraneous figures in the case.

In the blogosphere, dukeobsrvr links to the latest in anti-Righteous Townie fashion. I’m pretty sure you won’t be seeing those at the Duck Shop.

Duke under siege, day eight: it's all about the booze (and the News)

Today’s theme is alcohol; UD points to Allison Clarke’s lengthy post on the culture of drinking at Duke, while Paul Bonner of the Herald-Sun catches up with William Willimon, the former dean of Duke Chapel who wrote a report on Duke’s drinking culture in the early 1990s.

Elsewhere in the legacy media, Newsday reports that attorneys for the lacrosse team members plan to release the DNA test results, even if Righteous Townie AD Mike Nifong doesn’t, the New York Times reports that the alleged victim has joined the lacrosse captains in self-imposed exile from their homes due to the media attention, and Filip Bondy whines in the New York Daily News that he can’t get any juicy quotes from the women’s basketball team, who presumably have better things to do than opine about the rape allegations to ninth-tier sports reporters who normally don’t give a shit about women’s college basketball (or lacrosse, for that matter).

Since Nifong is away from the cameras much of this week, I don’t expect any major developments… but I’ll keep an eye on things nonetheless.

Sunday, 2 April 2006

Lacrossed out in Big Media

Here’s the Newsweek story, which surprisingly is the first I’ve seen that quotes a student I happen to teach, while Bryan notes that it’s made Outside the Lines, the weekly program where ESPN pretends (mostly unsuccessfully) that it can cover serious sports news.

Meanwhile, the Herald-Sun reports that some students on the men’s lacrosse team, in addition to facing past charges for such common collegiate misdemeanors like underage drinking and public urination, had the temerity to not be all they could be in a class on Native American history:

History professor Peter Wood said Saturday he complained to athletic department representatives after it seemed to him a group of half a dozen or so men’s lacrosse players didn’t take one of his classes seriously in the spring semester of 2004.

The course was a survey of Native American history that Wood said has been popular among lacrosse players because of the sport’s roots in American Indian culture.

Wood’s unhappiness with what happened in the spring 2004 class focused on what he termed the players’ “lack of engagement in classroom activities and discussions, and giving priority to unnecessary athletic commitments created by the coaching staff, such as a practice called during class time at 10 a.m. on a Friday.”

The professor didn’t put his concerns in writing and now wishes he had done more at the time.

Wow, student athletes slacking off. I’m shocked and appalled that such things might ever go on at a college campus, and even more shocked and appalled that this phenomenon is apparently unique to student athletes in Wood’s experience. I look forward to other stunning revelations, like names of the lacrosse players who have speeding tickets, the list of scofflaws who had to go to detention once in 10th grade, and a report detailing the kids who didn’t file to pay the state sales tax on their purchases over the past year.

Duke under siege, day seven: Meet the Nation

No news per se, so it’s time to do what American society always does on Sundays—sit around and let a bunch of pundits reanalyze the week that was:

Chris at Outside Report (no relation) notes the politics surrounding the case, describing Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong’s newfound role as the White Avenger:

Even though there are several problems with the timeline of events with the rape story, the lacrosse members have already been convicted in the court of public opinion. Ever since this incident, Mike Nifong has been on TV and in the local Durham papers nonstop discussing this case and its implications. He and the police have kept this story overtly vague while leaving little doubt of the Duke lacrosse members’ guilt. The entire rape scandal has been a boon of free press and publicity for incumbent Mike Nifong who I frankly had never heard of before this scandal.

Now, we have word that Nifong won’t release the results of the DNA test and won’t file charges until April 10th. Curiously, that is even closer to the May 2nd primary and will keep him in the papers and on television for another two weeks. Duke students are too oblivious to read the local papers or know a single thing going on in Durham, thus I’m sure none of the lawyers or the national press recognize this political element to the story.

While Duke did not handle this story in the best way, the DA office published this story without any mention of the doubts as if though it had been true. In many ways, its a brilliant political move in Durham, where whites and blacks are equally divided in population (48% white/40% black). The one thing that all Durhamites hate (particularly black Durhamites) is Duke. Nifong has won alot of African-American friends in his strident attack on the Duke elites.

Steve Donohue notes a weird quote in Greg Garber’s latest report:

“North Carolina is the Bible Belt, and a fair amount of folks in the black community feel the sexual attack was something the young woman brought on herself,” said Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke associate professor who teaches black pop culture in the African-American Studies Department. “On a certain level, they’re most concerned with the racial epithets.”

Wow, I really hope that isn’t true. I’ve said that certain aspects of the story have seemed fishy since the very beginning, but if the rape accusations are true, then the most serious aspect of the story isn’t that some rich white kids called black people “niggers”. Yes, nasty racial language isn’t decent or proper, and I wish the word stricken from the English vocabulary posthaste. But think about how horrible that is: if the girl was raped, she sorta deserved it because she was an exotic dancer? I just can’t believe that many people in any community would say, “sure, a girl may have been violated in the most severe possible way, but listen to what they said!”

Last, but not least, Lisa of A Complete Bunch of Pants has a theory as to why Larry Moneta decided to disseminate the “gang threat” rumors. Then again, maybe people are rightfully jumpy after a reported attack on two students in west Durham and a bizarre pair of shootings in Walltown, several blocks north of East Campus.

Lisa also says that Jill Hopman, who wrote this commentary in Monday’s Chronicle, has been banned from Charlie’s. Makes me half-tempted to go over there and do some reporting of my own.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Sex, lies, and stereotypes

This AP story does a reasonably good job of dissecting the stereotypes and reality surrounding Duke and the wider community in the wake of the rape allegations against the lacrosse team. Also, WRAL tonight carried an interview with a female Duke student athlete who stood behind the team; a snippet of her interview is quoted in this piece that mostly focuses on the threat of gang violence against Duke students.

Another question from my growing mental file: my suspicion is that people who would commit a gang-rape are typically not first-time rapists. Even if that’s not the case, if we are to believe the statistics on rape—that one in four women have been raped in their lifetime, and that most rapes are committed by people who know the victim—I can’t imagine that not one of the 47 lacrosse players (or one of 47 other randomly-selected males, for that matter) haven’t raped someone in their lives. So where are the other rape victims? This has been national news for a week, and not a single additional woman has come forward claiming that one of these guys has raped her. I don’t know that it matters in terms of the credibility of these charges, but it just seems weird in and of itself.

Pondering opportunity costs

The boss has posted a link to his latest EconLib column on opportunity costs and why people don’t seem to understand them.

Maybe a future column will explain why I find it harder to spend a gift certificate than my own money.

Duke under siege, day six: a real timeline

Brendan Nyhan has a link to a timeline compiled by the News and Observer that incorporates the observations of neighbor Jason Bissey.

Meanwhile, Righteous Townie DA Mike Nifong has apparently decided that fiddling while Durham burns is going to be his primary strategy in the case. When’s that Democratic primary again?

NewsRadio QotD, Duke under siege edition

This one seems oddly appropriate:

Jimmy: It’s like I’m under siege, like that guy in that movie.
Dave: Under Siege?
Jimmy: No…
Dave: Under Siege 2?
Jimmy: No…
Dave: Under Siege 3?
Jimmy: That’s the one.
Lisa: I don’t think they made Under Siege 3.
Jimmy: Hey, a man can dream, can’t he?