My correspondent was, of course, absolutely correct. But--Byron Calame's journalistic advice notwithstanding--it's unlikely we'll see much new information emerge about the lacrosse team, or that this matter represents the critical unknown at this stage.
On the other hand, the public record contains virtually nothing about internal conditions in the Durham Police Department. In the Mostafa trial, Nifong investigator Linwood Wilson took the stand to impeach the testimony of Inv. B.W. Himan (regarding the claim in Himan's notes that Nifong wanted to be contacted immediately after police arrested Mostafa). A piece in Wednesday's Herald-Sun--confirming every day its status as a Nifong house organ--implied that the three other District 2 supervisors weren't following Durham Police policy regarding the targeting of Duke students. (The article sought to excuse Sgt. Mark Gottlieb's record of arresting 10 times as many Duke students as the other three supervisors combined.) The willingness of Nifong&Co. to suggest incompetence for any police officer whose conduct in any way might hurt the state's position in the rape case can't be good for morale.
We also know relatively little about the attitudes and actions within the Duke administration between March 14 and April 5. (The Bowen/Chambers report was supposed to investigate this question, but instead, as Stuart Taylor observed, produced a "parody of race-obsessed political correctness.") In recent weeks, Duke has presented an image of the administration going out of its way to protect the rights of its students, while dealing with overwhelmed, even "frightened," lacrosse parents. I suspect that the more we learn about the administration's actions during those critical three weeks, the less defensible Duke's approach will appear. Along these lines, I reproduce below comments that I recently received from a lacrosse parent.
I read with interest your recent post and the link to the March 27 Chronicle story. The article referenced a meeting the team parents had the afternoon of March 25 with university officials after they had cancelled that day's game against Georgetown. Larry Moneta, the vp for student affairs, was quoted in the story as stating that the meeting was to "keep the parents informed and focusing on the consequences for their kids and the way we will proceed pending the conclusion of the investigation." Moneta also said "the parents were frightened and nervous for their children."
This statement, like so many other statements put out by Duke officials, was misleading and false. I was one of the 40 or 50 parents who were at that meeting that day. We were nervous for our sons, but we were also furious at Duke. That was the day we all realized that Duke was not on our side and was not going to do anything to protect its students. That was the day Brodhead turned his back on our sons.
When Duke forfeited that day's game, Coach Pressler asked the parents who were in town for the game to meet with Athletic Director Alleva and Dean Wasiolek. The two of them told us that this game and the next had been forfeited as the team's punishment for holding the party. Alleva said the "party was inconsistent with the values of Duke athletics and Duke University and is unacceptable." He could not tell us when, or if ever, a Duke team had forfeited a game for disciplinary reasons. He could not explain why he had not forced all of the other Duke athletic teams, fraternities, and sororities which had held similar parties to forfeit their games or activities. And he refused to admit that his actions canceling the games just might make it look like Duke thought the team was guilty.
We were furious, and felt totally betrayed by Duke. We knew our sons were innocent of these outrageous allegations, and so did Duke. We had all grilled our sons about what happened, and so had Duke officials. No charges had been filed, and the Duke police had told university officials the allegations were not credible. A university lawyer had told team parents there was nothing to the allegations and they would go away. Top university officials, including the number two man EVP Tallman Trask, Alleva, and Wasiolek,* had met with the four team captains the previous afternoon, learned exactly what had and had not happened, including the extent of their cooperation with the police, and had told them they believed they were innocent. In fact, Trask told the four captains as they left the meeting to "Beat Georgetown." Yet less than 24 hours later, Duke was forfeiting the games and putting out statements that moved this story from the local papers to the front page of the New York Times.
During the meeting, we pleaded with Alleva to amend his statement to say that Duke officials had met with the team captains, knew they were cooperating with the authorities, and believed they were innocent. When Alleva refused to do that, we asked to meet with President Brodhead. After a short break, Alleva returned with Trask and Moneta, who told us flatly that Brodhead would not meet with us. When we asked them to put out a statement from Brodhead saying that Duke was confident that its students were innocent, they refused, and informed us that no further statements would be released by anyone at Duke. They also told us that no further action would be taken by Duke against the team until the legal investigation was concluded, and that steps would be taken to ensure that the team members would be treated fairly by their professors.
As it turned out, none of these assurances from the Duke officials were true. Less than an hour after the meeting broke up, Brodhead issued a statement praising Alleva's action and stating that "physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and have no place at Duke. The criminal allegations against three members of our men's lacrosse team, if verified, will warrant very serious penalties." Brodhead also urged everyone on the team to cooperate with the authorities. With this statement, Brodhead turned his back on his students, and threw them to the wolves, and helped create the media firestorm that erupted.
We were shocked and dismayed. How could Duke take such a radical turn…moving from "we believe you are innocent" to issuing a statement that all but declared the team was guilty? We now know that Brodhead caved to a small but very vocal group of professors who wanted to drive athletic teams off the campus. At a faculty meeting that Friday afternoon and another meeting with faculty that Saturday morning, Brodhead was severely criticized for not forcing the team to cooperate with the investigation and for not disbanding the team. Instead of explaining to these officials the constitutional rights of their own students, Brodhead caved to their pressure and took the side of the mob. He has been there ever since.
The apparent unwillingness or inability of Duke administrators to follow through on their minimal promise in this meeting--that the institution wouldn't tolerate academic harassment of lacrosse players by their professors--represents one of the most disturbing, if least examined, aspects of this affair. It does seem that a few people within the Duke administration--Trinity College dean Bob Thompson, for instance--that tried to approach this case with the fairmindedness it required. Unfortunately, Moneta, Trask, and Wasiolek appear to have carried the day.
[*--Update: I have been told that Wasiolek was not in the meeting with the captains, though Trask and Alleva, as the parent recalled, were.]