For those of us who have some background in procedural or academic matters but who, unlike John, are also scientifically challenged, Kathleen Eckelt is of tremendous assistance. I posted ten days ago on some of her early writings on the Duke case; she recently completed another post, and privately answered several other questions from me. Eckelt’s findings raise serious questions about the validity of Mike Nifong’s case.
1.) In her most recent post, Eckelt explains in greater detail about the dubious nature of the Gottlieb “straight-from-memory” notes. This typewritten document, produced months after the fact without any contemporaneous handwritten notes, claims that in a March 21 conversation, SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy told the sergeant that her physical exam of the accuser indicated “blunt force trauma,” that she diagnosed the accuser with anal edema, and that an unidentified male hospital employee walked in to the exam room, causing the accuser to scream uncontrollably. No notation of any of these items appeared in Levicy’s written report.
Regarding the latter issue (the unnamed man who allegedly entered the exam room), Eckelt notes the following,
The name of any person in that room, besides the nurse, must be documented. If it’s an unlocked room, the door is shut and the curtain is pulled to protect the patient’s privacy. The staff know not to enter and the nurse must remain in the room with the evidence until it’s locked up. The only other persons we [in our unit] allow in the room, would be either a physician or another nurse the FNE has asked to come in to assist with something. They’re usually only in the room a few minutes. Once certified, we function independently, so there’s no need to have anyone else in the room with us.From all reports, neither Gottlieb nor those among the New York Times journalistic staff who considered his notes the key to the case indicated that Levicy ever documented an unidentified male entering the exam room.
Meanwhile, Eckelt contends that the accuser’s symptoms are inconsistent with blunt force trauma. (Times reporter Duff Wilson, who made a great deal of Gottlieb’s version of events, gave no indication in his article of checking to determine the medical plausibility of Gottlieb’s tale.) “You usually do not see edema by itself,” she reports, “as a result of BFT. You usually see other symptoms as well.”
Finally, Eckelt dismisses the claims of anal edema absent Levicy having documented them at the time. “If there is nothing checked off next to rectal trauma on the SANE’s report,” Eckelt comments, “then there was no trauma.”
Of course, Gottlieb’s version of events might be truthful. But his truthfulness would have to come at the expense of Levicy’s competence–thereby calling into question the validity of the entire medical exam.
2.) The accuser’s injuries appear inconsistent with her version of events (even if we employ the Nifong-shortened new timeline). In what “was supposed to have been an extremely violent assault–one in which the accused claimed that she was choked, beaten, and kicked, raped, and forced to engage in oral and anal sex,” Eckelt asks, “Is it logical that [the accuser] would have no red marks anywhere on her body? No bruises, no abrasions or lacerations, no swelling - no pain - anywhere?”
Eckelt presents a convincing and detailed argument as to why the injuries documented by Levicy–“edema, and only edema, of the inner vaginal walls, without having redness and edema showing on the outer vaginal area first”–do not seem to correspond with the description of the alleged attack. While “it’s common knowledge that most rape victims have no injuries . . . in an extremely violent case like this, to have only one symptom - edema - of the vaginal walls alone, and nowhere else, with absolutely no other injuries or symptoms, defies logic.”
3.) The question of who supervised Levicy, a SANE nurse-in-training, remains unanswered.
In response to my previous post on this topic, some commenters suggested that the M.D. who also examined the accuser functioned as Levicy’s supervisor. Eckelt casts doubt upon this theory, though she notes that, perhaps, North Carolina employs different rules than her home state of Maryland.
“Once all the [educational] requirements are completed,” Eckelt informed me, “the nurse in training (in our area anyway) has to be observed and checked off on doing 3 exams on her own. It takes an average of 8 mos. to one year to complete all the requirements. On our unit, the new nurses are observed, and checked off, by an experienced FNE, not a physician . . . We work totally independent of the physicians, except that we have a medical director who oversees the program . . . Besides, many of the physicians in the ER are residents in training themselves (in a teaching hospital). If they haven’t received SANE training themselves, I don’t see how they would be qualified to observe and check off a new SANE nurse.”
4.) The combination of drugs and alcohol that the accuser acknowledged using is a potent one. Eckelt states:
Her taking Flexeril was a big deal to me. There are many factors which should be looked into. First, Flexeril is a muscle relaxant, used to treat acute (not chronic) pain, stiffness, and limited movement from some injury to the muscular skeletal system . . . Flexeril is supposed to be used only for 2-3 weeks - not long term. So, what happened to her in the 2-3 weeks preceding the alleged rape? Something must have in order for her to get a prescription . . . Not only is Flexeril a muscle relaxant, but it also has properties very similar to tricyclic antidepressants. People shouldn’t be drinking alcohol when on this medicine. Alcohol can substantially increase the effects of the medication: drowsiness, dizziness, mental confusion, decreased coordination, etc. Can be very dangerous to mix the two!5.) It’s possible and even probable that Levicy was basing her information on incomplete information from the accuser regarding previous sexual partners. Eckelt explains the procedure:
Patients are asked right out, "When was your most recent consensual sex within the last 2 weeks?" They are asked the date & time. This is documented in the chart as well as on the front of the crime lab envelope for the first vaginal swab. I always tell my patients: “Normally, most adult patients are sexually active. The crime lab needs to be able to differ the assailants' DNA from those of your normal relationships.” My patients have always given the info freely.In this case, the initial DNA test included only lacrosse players. Only after that test came back negative did Nifong ask for DNA samples of the people the accuser listed as her previous three sexual partners.
We now know that a match occurred with one of those people, the accuser’s boyfriend, with whom she claimed to have last had sex a week before the alleged attack. In Friday’s court session, the defense strongly hinted that there might be DNA matching other people. And, on April 6, Jarriel Johnson stated that the accuser performed with a vibrator shortly before the lacrosse party. How much (if any) of this information was known to Levicy at the time she performed her exam?
In light of this mountain of physical (non-)evidence, how could Mike Nifong have remained faithful to his requirement to function as Durham County's "minister of justice" and simultaneously have repeatedly asserted in late March that no doubt existed that a rape occurred? That's a question I doubt even Kathleen Eckelt could answer.