Joseph Neff’s latest exposé in the N&O deals yet another devastating blow to Mike Nifong’s crumbling case. As the lead paragraph states, the accuser “performed an athletic pole dance at a Hillsborough strip club at the same time that [she] was visiting hospitals complaining of intense pain from being assaulted.”
It’s a fitting commentary on the media coverage of this case that, nearly two weeks after 60 Minutes revealed the existence of this tape, the N&O broke the story about the tape’s origin, described the accuser’s “limber” performance in detail, and provided the necessary context to understand its significance. We have seen little sign of reporting from any other newspaper during recent months.
Testifying to the tape’s damaging nature for the prosecution, Nifong investigator Linwood Wilson resorted to a seemingly desperate asserting of casting doubt as to whether the dancer in the film was the accuser. The former security manager of the strip club, H.P. Thomas, dismissed that claim: “She was regular. She danced like she always danced, good old Precious.”
Apart from offering more evidence that a rape didn’t occur (has there ever been a high-profile case in which the accused could offer more proof of their demonstrable innocence?), Neff’s article has broader ramifications:
In his widely panned New York Times piece,
Neff’s article makes clear that
Though she continued to complain of identical pain on subsequent visits to UNC, Neff writes that “the doctor noted that she was in no obvious distress and did not renew the prescription for narcotics. And on April 3, a doctor noted, “The patient is a well-appearing African-American female in no apparent distress.”
2.) Former lead investigator's Gottlieb report is far, far more flawed than even his critics (including me) had contended.
Neff’s article contains an almost hilariously wooden excerpt of the sergeant’s “straight-from-memory” report:
The victim had a very slow gate [sic] that was obviously painful while she was walking. Her facial expressions conveyed her pain as she ambulated. ... The victim had to take time to position herself carefully on the sofa so that her exterior portion of either hip was making contact with the cushion. Anytime her bottom touched the sofa cushion while repositioning during our visit, she groaned and had a facial expression consistent with pain.
At the time, defense attorney Joseph Cheshire said the sergeant’s report was “transparently written to try to make up for holes in the prosecution’s case,” a move that “smacks of almost desperation.”
But the Neff article shows that just over a week after the sergeant termed the accuser in dire pain “as she ambulated,” she was performing in a “limber” fashion at the strip club. And the 60 Minutes outtake confirms that the manager said that the accuser made a similar performance just a day after her groaning experience with Gottlieb.
In short, there is every reason to believe that Gottlieb was simply making up his March 16 description of the accuser, which no other officer mentioned, and which Kathleen Eckelt already has described as medically implausible.
One of the single best general narratives of the case recently appeared in, of all, places,
And what was that script? “All but one of the lacrosse team were wealthy white boys. After the rape allegations posters of the players went up around the university with the word ‘Wanted’. One professor accused the team of hiding behind ‘silent whiteness’.”
Now the rape charges seem in danger of falling over for lack of evidence. With no DNA evidence, contradictory statements from the woman, a flawed identification procedure and at least one of the players appearing to have a convincing alibi, the pressure is now on the district attorney, Mike Nifong, who won an election on the back of charging the men.
The media, having rushed to judgement, have now exonerated the players and excoriated Mr Nifong. The woman, earlier called the “victim” and an “exotic dancer,” is now called the “accuser” and a “stripper.”
Perhaps the New York Times might want to serialize the Morning Herald rather than wasting the expense of having Duff Wilson do any more reporting on the case.
Joan Foster has been a breath of fresh air throughout this controversy. Yesterday, the Liestoppers regular posted her wittiest piece yet—a poem nominating Nifong as a modern-day Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
A Liestoppers reader hypothesized Inspector Nifong’s closing line during his April 11 non-discussion of the case with the accuser: “Until we meet again and the case is sol-ved.”
Monks also cited a dubious poll by “John L. Barker Strategies,” a firm whose website I couldn’t locate. Barker told an associate of mine that on October 17 through October 19, his firm polled 1000 people who had voted in each of the last four elections in
I’d like to believe the “Barker Strategies” poll is accurate, since it showed Nifong at under 40%. But given the reliability of the N&O poll—which came very close to a dead-on prediction of the primary—I see little reason to doubt the N&O’s numbers.
At this stage, only one rational reason remains for Monks’ continuing presence in the race: he has worked out some sort of covert deal with Nifong. In exchange for diluting the anti-Nifong vote, he will receive post-election favors from the D.A.
Yet everyone to whom I have spoken about this possibility denies that Monks ever would enter into such a deal. (From what we’ve seen of Nifong, of course, there’s little he wouldn’t do to be elected.) And so, much like Ralph Nader in 2000, it appears that no rational reason exists for Monks remaining as a candidate.
At this point, the Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek forces can do little but move forward with their campaign, concede to Monks his 4% or 5% as a write-in, and hope that they can edge Nifong nonetheless.
Friday’s Chronicle featured an editorial about the Big Bad Blogs, which mirrored in tone and content the sort of gloom-and-doom portrayals of blogs often seen in national newspapers in the late 1990s. The blogs covering the case, readers were told, have failed to examine the “crucial complexities of the sentiments on campus”; have often violated “the very ethical standards of journalism bloggers castigate major media for overlooking”; and feature “assertions [that] are made from afar with little true reporting.”
All serious charges. Unfortunately, the editorial neglects to give any examples to back up its claims; and its “one-size-fits-all” denunciation seems to miss, to borrow a phrase, the “crucial complexities” needed for sophisticated media criticism.
Over the past several months, Duke’s “blue wall of silence” has gradually come crashing down. First, women’s lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel became the first Duke employee to publicly defend the lacrosse players’ character. Then Duke Law professor James Coleman became the first Duke professor to condemn Nifong’s myriad procedural abuses. Then Steven Baldwin became the first arts and sciences professor to publicly break from the emotionally tyranny of the Group of 88. The last brick to fall: a member of the Group of 88 itself retracting his or her signature, or at least criticizing the course of the case.
As Philosophy professor and Group of 88 member Alex Rosenberg made clear in Friday’s New York Sun, he will not provide the final step in tearing down the wall. Rosenberg distinguished himself over the summer by proudly affirming he had joined the Group of 88 despite recognizing that Nifong was exploiting the case for political purposes; he added that people who knew Reade Seligmann should keep their opinions to themselves, thereby allowing Nifong’s demonstrably false portrayal of Seligmann’s character to remain unchallenged.
For good measure, he claimed that I sent him an email accusing him of prejudging the case (my email is here: judge for yourself). At the time,
In the Sun,
No word yet on whether the responses of