Friday, October 13, 2006

The Roberts Bombshells

On last night’s CBS Evening News, Ed Bradley previewed Sunday’s 60 Minutes broadcast. The teaser bombshell: Kim Roberts contradicts multiple aspects of the accuser’s April 6 version of events. It goes without saying that Roberts’ remarks also differ from the accuser’s myriad other versions.

According to the CBS website, after repeating the accuser’s claim that “three guys grabbed Nikki . . . They separated us at the master bedroom door while we tried to hold on to each other,” Bradley then asked Roberts, “Were you holding on to each other? Were you pulled apart?” Roberts rolled her eyes, said “nope,” and added that police never informed her of the accuser’s account. Roberts added that the accuser “was fine” after the dance.

As Johnsville News noted, Roberts has offered a different spin on events in every interview she has given. Her interviews with Vanity Fair and NPR showed her as someone who doesn’t like the lacrosse players—and, in fact, who wants to believe the worst of them. That record makes all the more notable her unequivocal denial of the accuser’s story to Bradley. It’s also worth noting that Bradley—unlike the “journalists” who interviewed her for Vanity Fair or NPR—actually asked Roberts directly about her police statement, and asked her for factual details about the accuser’s claims, rather than simply seeking her opinion of what happened.

But the most striking aspect of the 60 Minutes teaser wasn’t Roberts’ contradiction of the accuser’s tale. (Her March 22 statement, after all, had already accomplished this task.) Rather, the remarkable item came in Roberts’ assertion that until Bradley sat down with her, she never had been asked about the accuser’s April 6 version of events.

This assertion is all too characteristic of the Keystone Kops investigation carried out by the Durham Police Department. Before seeking indictments, it would have been reasonable for Gottlieb, Himan, or de facto lead investigator Nifong to have questioned Roberts about the assertions made by the accuser in her April 6 statement. Of course, if the police had followed standard procedures and obtained a statement from the accuser on March 16, they wouldn’t have needed to re-interview Roberts.

It’s nothing short of astonishing that Nifong would have sought indictments based on a version of events in which Roberts played a central role without even asking Roberts whether the accuser’s statement was true. Only one conceivable explanation exists for the decision not to re-question Roberts: Nifong feared that she would tell the same story she told Bradley, thus providing evidence that would “damage the prosecutor’s case or aid the accused.” Of course, Rule 3.8, comment 2 of the state bar’s ethics code states that “a prosecutor should not intentionally avoid pursuit of evidence merely because he or she believes it will damage the prosecutor's case or aid the accused.”

So, it appears, Nifong has violated this provision not, as previously thought, only once (when he refused to meet with Kirk Osborn to consider Reade Seligmann’s exculpatory evidence) but twice.

The decision not to re-question Roberts before seeking indictments contributes to a long list of peculiar investigatory items in this case. Consider:

  1. The police waited two days to obtain a warrant to search the lacrosse players’ house.
  2. The police took four days after interviewing the accuser to track down Roberts, the only “neutral” witness to the alleged events.
  3. Nifong had already obtained the court order for DNA and run his procedurally fraudulent ID before police interviewed either of the accuser’s “drivers” to ascertain her activity before the lacrosse party.
It gets worse:
  1. I’ve been told there’s no evidence that the police took a statement from the accuser’s “boyfriend” before seeking indictments—even though his DNA was recovered from her. Indeed, according to the wording of Nifong’s March 23 court filing, that DNA should have provided “conclusive evidence as to who the suspect(s) are in the alleged violent attack upon this victim.” If not, at least the DNA might have been grounds for an interview before indicting other people.
  2. The police have never—to this day—spoken to either Collin Finnerty or Reade Seligmann about their actions on the night of March 13-14.
  3. Although they had knowledge that one or more lacrosse players took photos at the party, the police never attempted to obtain those photos before seeking indictments.
  4. On March 29, Nifong himself stated, “All of the people at the party were Duke lacrosse players with the possible exception of two fraternity people who were there at some point that evening with another member of the Duke lacrosse team.” Yet two days later, the district attorney ordered police to confine the lineup lacrosse players, since he was “under the impression that the players at the party were members of the Duke Lacrosse team.” To my knowledge, the accuser was never shown photographs of the non-lacrosse players at the party.

This record most charitably could be described as one of monumental incompetence. Where, then, are the protests from the local NAACP? From Nifong enablers such as Bob Ashley, on the Herald-Sun editorial page? From rush-to-judgment types such as Wahneema Lubiano? If a rape actually had occurred, the DPD’s shoddy investigatory practices would have frustrated bringing the real perpetrators to justice. A cynical person might interpret the silence of Lubiano, Ashley, et. al. on this matter as suggesting that their real concern is less what did or didn’t happen to the accuser but exploiting the case for their own personal, political, or ideological ends.

60 Minutes’ revelation that the police never bothered to double-check with Roberts about the accuser’s story suggests a police department where the search for truth not only took a back seat to other considerations, but appears never to have been a consideration at all.

[Note: Blogging will be a bit light this weekend: I'll be speaking Saturday morning on intellectual diversity in the academy (and will mention this case a bit) at the Pope Center's conference, in Raleigh. On October 26, I've been invited to the Duke campus to speak about the case by ACLU@DUKE.]


Anonymous said...

Is it safe for you to appear at Duke with Nifong and Gottlieb on the loose?

Anonymous said...

Don't get any speeding tickets. That could turn into a huge problem in DurHam.

LearnedHand said...

All I can say KC is - bravo. You have really done an excellent job. I really admire your persistence, integrity, respect for detail, and hard work. Thanks and please keep it up.

Wish I could be there in RAL this weekend. Should be a helluva time. I AM going to try and be there at Duke. Holy cow!

Anonymous said...

I get the impression that Nifongian thought patterns took this form: "Since I will fairly quickly be compelled to reveal the results of any evidence gathering and I KNOW that any real evidence I gather will hurt and/or kill my scam - I meant case - I must therefore avoid, at all costs, gathering any more evidence than absolutely necessary. And if a critical hole appears too soon, I will have Gottlieb write up a lie about the results of PAST investigations. That way, I will control what goes into the record. Because there is no way I can risk actually asking anything I cannot control the answer to."
The really, really scary thing is that he obviously believed, based on practicing law in Durham, that this made a certain amount of sense.
Or we could also conclude, at long last, that the correct answer is "evil" rather than "crazy" because his actions really are consistent and internally logical. If you happen to think like Hannibal Lector.

newport said...

What learnedhand said, bravo KC!

DPD conducted almost no investigation in this case, that is for sure. All eyes were turned away to any exculpatory evidence and basic police practices regarding interviews, follow-ups and documentation of activities were ignored.

This whole case has always been based on an uncorroborated and monumentally unreliable accusation. There is no other credible evidence that a rape even occured, let alone that these three defendants are responsible.
The prosecutor's evidence in this case never came close to meeting the standard of probable cause. I would love to find out what Gottlieb and Himan presented to the Grand Jury to get the indictments, I am sure it closely tracts the warrant applications, but we will never know.

kbp said...

First, we want a video online of your ACLU@DUKE speech, please!

I consider this one of your best, but then they just seem to be better every time.

Congratulations for having been recognized by so many in the MSM for your fine work

Anonymous said...

Yes, and as you suggest, the circumstances demonstrate the moral bankruptcy of the pro-prosecution crowd.

If they honestly believed that there was actually a rape, they would be furious at law enforcement for doing a shoddy investigation that would be very likely to let any real rapists run free. Instead, they cheer on Nifong et al. Because they know perfectly well that there was no rape.



Anonymous said...

Every time I think this thing can get no worse -- it gets worse. We have to keep in mind that the principals in this investigation -- Liefong, Gottlieb, Nieman, and others -- are experienced enough to know that their actions were NOT the actions one takes to "solve" a real crime. Instead, they are acting deliberately to fabricate a crime and then frame three innocent people, all for political ends.

This case truly is sickening, but is the ultimate train wreck that occurs when truth takes a back seat. Duke's arts and sciences faculty (like other arts and sciences faculties across the country) long ago embraced "postmodernism" as the way to look at the world. This is the ultimate end of this awful philosophy.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

If we don't hear from you after the weekend, we'll assume that Gottlieb, Himan, et al., have you locked up in a Durham jail on some trumped-up charge. But don't worry, we'll organize a posse and come and break you out.

Anonymous said...

KC, your posts just get better and better! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

One additional point about the incompetence (and worse) of the police and DA actions:

If the accuser did tell the police (as the record indicates) that three people grabbed her and three other people grabbed Nikki and pulled them apart so that the "victim" could be pulled into the bathroom -- why haven't the police tried to identify and indict the other three guys, who surely were part of the crime?

Why did Nifong publicly declare all the other players as not guilty once he got the three indictments if others at the party were said to have aided and abetted this horrible supposed crime?

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that EVERYONE in the Durham PD is incompetent or believes in this case. Any evidence that individual police are quietly working to kill this case?

sweetmick said...

The last refuge of a scoundrel DA is "jury nullification in reverse". In the Bronx, NY for several years, 70% of criminal defendants who went to trial were found NOT GUILTY. In the rest of the U.S., 95% of criminal defendants are found GUILTY. Jurors in the Bronx were surveyed; they refused to destroy their community by sending any more young blacks to prison. Nifong will proceed to trial, hoping to pick jurors who will suspend objectivity and rationality, and instead will view this case through a racial prism. We are not out of the woods yet.

Anonymous said...

Susan Filan on MSNBC still continues to defend Nifong.

Anonymous said...

Susan Filan on MSNBC still continues to defend Nifong.

ed said...


This is going to cause some hoopla when it gets to trial. Because of the whacky things the DPD & Nifong are doing this must result in a review of all past cases for similar issues.

Which is going to cost Durham a lot of money.

Anonymous said...

I've posted this before, but watch 60 Minutes. Kim Roberts is the "tease" from CBS (all puns intended). The real blockbuster is another interview which will confirm this was an attempt to extort money from the players' families.

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about "forgetting." KC, don't you find it ironic that you are trying to forget your accusation of forgetfulness? Why do you censor reminders of how you misled your KCoolade drinkers and are not taking responsibility for your mistakes?

Anonymous said...

KC, have the NBPP offered to provide you security while in Durham ?

Anya J. Flannery said...

To the anonymous 1:03 poster I'd like to know what exactly you are refering to. I read this blog everyday. To the best of my knowledge Professor Johnson has never mislead any of his readers. Unlike like you, I won't hide behind an anonymous post. I know all three of these falsely accused men personally.

To Colin, Reade, and Dave,

You and your families are in my thoughts and prayers everyday!

And to KC, thanks for getting the truth out there.


Anya J. Flannery

Anonymous said...

Dr. Johnson, what time are you going to talk at the Duke Campus on October 26? Could you be specific about the time spot? Morning, afternoon, late afternoon???


Anonymous said...

Yes, Filan's pieces are odd. Her new one on msnbc that the poster is referring to basically says that I was once a DA and that I would hand over everything (crucial evidence) because to not do so would be bad for me. Then she goes on to say that the 'work product rule' applies in this case without actually examining that - she admits that AV and Nifong talked (she doesn't mean to though given the implications) but says that they were only talking about trial preparation etc.

That's amusing because if Filan could read (one would think she could) she would notice that Nifong has claimed that he has not spoken to her, at least not during the April meeting (she was too distressed). Instead Filan asserts that they did talk but it is still protected.

The idea that a DA would want to disclose 'crucial' evidence just before and election is a joke - if that evidence makes his case collapse (further). Nifong has been horribly slow but has no other cases at the moment (of course he's an administrator but I doubt Nifong has too much trouble there).

Anonymous said...

The 103 poster has had issues with KC 's comment deletion policy which does not have anything to do with contrary views but does affect trolls.

I hope that you enjoy your time in the raleigh durham area. If I wasn't on my extended weekend break I would come out...hopefully they have promoted this a bit. Perhaps not too much though; hecklers can be annoying.

Anonymous said...

You really hit the nail on the head with this one. How could they go forward without asking Roberts about the accuser's statements? They really seem to be operating on the "ignorance is bliss" theory of prosecution. The less they know, the better. Probably because they know the entire case is BS. Therefore, they did little to no "investigating".

I'm glad the ACLU invited you to speak. I'm a member of the ACLU and I've been very disappointed by their silence in this case. I've never known them to be so quiet when people's civil liberties are being violated left and right. If they're really concerned with EVERYONE'S civil rights they should speak up.

Anonymous said...

The evidence of prosecutorial abuse in this case is so great that it raises the question: Isn't there a way to stop this? Do we really have to stand by and watch Nifong and his enablers, a corrupt Durham city government and police force continue to falsely accuse the players and run up their legal bills? How could we get the feds involved? It's obvious that the North Carolina governor, who appointed Nifong, won't speak out on the injustice.

LearnedHand said...

KC, et al:

In case you are curious - this is the response I got to my recent email to the Charlotte Observer re: their lack of in-depth coverage of this case. Gotta love revisionism...

"Q. Hi. I am an avid reader of and am an original Charlottean, so I know the importance of great reporting. That said, I am extremely interested in knowing why the Observer has not written more or published more regarding the Duke Lacrosse case? With the upcoming 60 Minutes expose - with the details coming out today that the second stripper will directly contradict the alleged victim's account - I would hope that you and the paper would do your best to report on this story. It is of utmost importance to many people in this region, especially with the grevious abuses of civil liberties and the absurd ethical and procedural actions of North Carolina elected officials and law enforcement officers. Please, please, get this paper back into this story. I am tired of reading blogs to get my news.
Ken , Charlotte, NC 10/12/06

A. A check of our archives indicates we have run six stories on the Duke case since September 1. In the course of the investigation, we've run dozens of stories. We know that many of our readers are very interested in the case, and so we will continue to publish new developments. The 60 Minutes piece you refer to is said to be airing Sunday night, though the program has revealed parts of the story through its web site. As I update this answer, has posted a story on the 60 Minutes report.
Rick Thames 10/13/06"


Anonymous said...

Please do not forget to contribute to the "defense fund." The link below will take you to a website which has all the information you need to donate.

Defense Fund


Anonymous said...

Why has KC deleted his "Laughter and Forgetting in Durham" post? Does this make me a troll because I point out that KC was wrong about the alleged attempt to remove all records of the three accused lacrosse players? KC's overt bias makes his commentaries unreliable and that post was an example. No wonder he is trying to "forget" it. KC is a propagandist plan and simple. Drink the KCoolade if you want. Given the evidence, it is hard to imagine that the players are guilty. Too bad bloggers like KC have to use this tragedy to advance their own agendas. What is your agenda KC?

Anonymous said...

Correction. The "Forgetting" post is still available. However, neither KC nor his KCoolade drinkers have bothered to offer responses or retractions (much less apologies) for their obviously false accusations. KC, he reports, you bleat.

Anonymous said...

TO anonymous 12:30 AM

In a blog, unlike most academic journals, the readers are the reviewers. Most of KC's posts have been well reasoned and supported by facts. I don't know his motivation or yours for that matter. Why do you keep hounding him about that mistake? It was a mistake -- he removed it -- so what? Perhaps his motivation for spending time reading about and discussing this case are like many of us. We see a gross injustice by the DA and particularly with the mainstream media coverage. KC has provided an alternative to the overtly biased media coverage and in my estimation helped shape it in some ways.