Monday, November 06, 2006

The Latest Bombshell

I spoke last night with Ashley Cannon, a former assistant district attorney in Mike Nifong’s office.

She told me the following:

On Friday, her last day working for Nifong, Cannon spoke with the Administrative Office of the Courts, and filed an oral complaint alleging sexual harassment by Assistant District Attorney C. Destine Couch and a complaint against District Attorney Nifong for taking no action on the matter.

Couch received some attention earlier in the case, after people noticed his racy myspace.com website (which was then taken down). According to Cannon, Couch engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior that prompted her to file an internal complaint with David Saacks, the chief assistant district attorney. Saacks, she said, then brought the complaint to Nifong.

I spoke this morning with Saacks. He said that he could confirm that he was "involved" with the complaint in the office, but otherwise, as a personnel matter, only Nifong could comment on the issue.

Cannon said that, around four weeks ago, after Nifong showed no signs of acting, she made an appointment to speak to the district attorney. She reported that Nifong told her that they would talk about the matter later; and in the meantime, he would put her on a schedule that didn’t overlap with Couch. When Nifong did neither and she felt that the situation wasn’t going to improve, she decided to leave and file her complaint—against Couch for inappropriate behavior and against Nifong for inaction.

I asked Cannon why she came forward now; she said that she felt compelled to follow the same advice she gave to women who experienced sexual harassment in their jobs.

The N&O reached Ken Williams, human resources officer with AOC, who "said he had not heard about the complaint but would not have been the one to take it. He said if human resources receives a complaint, the office typically will investigate and make suggestions or recommendations to a district attorney, but that his office has no authority over elected officials or their employees."

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Couch’s mother, Finesse Couch, is a major player in the Durham Committee for the Affairs of Black People. The PAC recently endorsed Nifong, even though African-American groups traditionally look poorly upons reckless prosecutors. Finesse Couch has also donated $1000 to Nifong’s re-election campaign. Her most recent contribution, $250, came on October 10, or after Cannon had complained about C. Destine Couch’s behavior.

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The ironies of Cannon’s experience, of course, are numerous:

  • In the last seven months, Nifong has positioned himself as a great defender of women’s rights; yet he appears to have had a blasé attitude toward following up on a sexual harassment complaint in his own office.
  • Would Nifong have handled Cannon’s complaint differently if Couch’s mother had not been a significant figure for his re-election effort?
  • Nifong felt comfortable moving forward in the lacrosse case without ever speaking with the accuser about her version of events; and yet here, with a member of his own office filing a complaint and talking personally to him, he appears to have done little or nothing about it?

I emailed Couch and Nifong for comment; both have, to date, not replied. The N&O did reach Nifong; he refused to comment.

[Update, 9.11am: I should make it clear that I heard about Cannon's complaint from a mutual acquaintance, and then called to ask her about the details.]

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, that's not a bombshell.

lskinner

Anonymous said...

K.C.,

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that "character is fate." Indeed, that is what we are seeing here. The accuser's dishonesty is catching up with her, as her co-workers finally are speaking out. I am sure that the defense already has stored away a wealth of material that further discredits the accuser, and while the good people of Durham already have said that any attempt to discredit the accuser is an act of racism, nonetheless the truth remains.

Now we see that Liefong was covering up in order to protect the son of one of his biggest supporters. I can assure you that this will be another nail in his career coffin.

Liefong sold his soul (or whatever soul he might have had) in order to pursue this case. He secured indictments in order to satisfy some of the electorate, and now he must live with the results.

This truly is an "Oh, what a tangled web we weave..." moment. And you can bet that even more things are going to come out in the future. Fitzgerald was right.

William L. Anderson

Anonymous said...

Wow, just when I think I've heard it all, something else surfaces from the DA's office. After reading Mr. Couch's MySpace web page months ago, he was the first person that came to mind when I read about Ms. Cannon's complaint. Nifong certainly appears to lack consistency in his outrage concerning crimes against women. It is particularly striking the lack of concern he had for the well being of one of his own staff.

Anonymous said...

To 1skinner, you're right, it's not a bombshell. It's actually business as usual for the Durham PD and District Attorney's office. No surprises here.

Anonymous said...

KC,

First class reporting (who, what, when, where, how, why) on your part. As they say in the biz, "Nice Get."

Walter Abbott

Anonymous said...

Poor MILF MAN. He just can't control himself around the ladies. It appears Destine's grooming for a power spot in Durham is probably over. What is mama Couch going to do now.

Anonymous said...

Mama Couch is probably going to hire Willy Gary to blow into town in his 727 and file a defamation of character claim against Ms. Cannon.

kbp said...

Thanks KC,

Another fine example of a blogger out shining the MSM on a news worthy event.

You've constantly illustrated WHY bloggers will be the best source for years to come.

On the topic, Mr. Anderson's "tangled web" comment describes this MESS well.

sceptical said...

In speaking to Ms. Cannon, did you ask her at all about the prosecution of the Duke 3? Now that she is not a Nifong employee, sh might have some interesting insights.

She is the first rat to jump the sinking ship, but probably not the last.

gc said...

Excellent post KC. Don't forget Ashley Cannon was the ADA who went after Evans for the noise violation. She pursued it. He was found guilty by Judge Bushfan (LOL) even after the judge in Flannery's case either found him not guilty or dismissed it. (Sorry can't remember which one). Remember the judge questioned why they were wasting the courts time.

So now the question is now that Ashley has left the office, do you think Nifong pushed to go after Evans for the noise violation???

Anonymous said...

Is Ashley a white or black woman???

Anonymous said...

This "latest bombshell" is certainly newsworthy, but I think that we need the dust to settle on the sexual harrassment allegation before we draw any conclusions. Of course, my natural inclination, knowing about Nifong, is to insist that Nifong should publicly castigate Mr. Couch as a "hooligan" before there is any investigation.

KC Johnson said...

The 10.04 is correct; and I want to make it clear that my post isn't meant to take any position on the merits of Cannon's claim. Couch declined to reply to me; Nifong refused to comment to the N&O.

What is significant, though, is Nifong's hypocrisy (a rape case can be prosecuted on solely the word of an accuser to whom he hasn't spoken; a sexual harassment claim is sluffed off) and the unusual timing between the filing of the claim and the subsequent additional donation of Couch's mother, whose support was vital for Nifong in the African-American community.

Anonymous said...

tick tick tick...the clock on your spurious campaign is coming to its conclusion. can you hear it? It's evident in your frustrated, panicked, mindless efforts.
my goodness, what will you people do on Wednesday morning? time for roll out of plan B...and C and D...meanwhile, the lacrosse case will head to court, with DA Nifong at the helm. as well it should.

Anonymous said...

What really is the bombshell is that there are several witnesses and video tape of Crystal pole dancing and giving lap dances and whatever else she gives only days after the alleged attack. Nifong and DPD knew she was still dancing, they knew the owner of the Platinum club wanted to change his affidavit. Nifong got caught covering up and lieing again. Now we find out that the owner of the club is involved with a Nigerian gun running operation and smuggling diamonds from Africa. HMMM if I was Crystal I would come clean, tell the truth that she lied to just get the assorted drugs she wanted from the various hospitals she went to. I wouldn't want to get the Nigerian mob angry at me because I exposed their operations all because she lied. So Crystal I suggest you come clean with the lie you told because everyone that goes down with you, including Nifong, the DPD
and now these Nigerian gun runners and diamond smugglers. Durahm is an endless cesspool of corruption. By the way Ashley Couch must be very proud of her disgusting, perverted son. You see the DA can be paid off, just donate to his election. This man will do anything, including look the other way when there is sexual harrasement in his office to keep his job. Pathetic. Come on FEDS step in anytime. What more do you need.....maybe a voodoo high priestess?

Anonymous said...

Is it about time for the New black Panther party to jump in? After all they claim to be the protectors of black women.

Anonymous said...

Ashley Cannon is white but race has nothing to do with this. Couch is just a sex crazed man with a thing for MILF's.

Anonymous said...

To 10:30 am,

Couch is a psycho sex freak with a thing for White MILFs.


To the 10:07 am Troll,

LMAO

Anonymous said...

Re: 10:07. Nifong seems to have plenty of time to play the troll, as he apparently doesn't spend much of the day, week, month or season functioning as district attorney. We'll probably hear less from him in his next job as a cart wrangler at Walmart. Sic Semper Tryannis

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the tables do turn.

Getting out while the getting is good. I imagine the resumes of those in the DA office were polished and published over the past few months.

One would think that there is a wealth of documentation by an ADA on the matter if the accusations are legit. Then again, an "oral complaint?"

The N&O conveniently left out that the ADA had complained about it and spoken with Nifong weeks ago, leaving the impression that the matter was only brought up Friday.

And no mention of WHO the ADA accused in the story. Wonder why the ALLEGED offender wasn't named?

Not much of a bombshell, but sure shows that it "works both ways."

Twaddlefree

sceptical said...

Is Ashley Cannon still affected by the gag order preventing attorneys from discussing the Duke Lacrosse case?

KC Johnson said...

To the 12.05:

She is not, since she no longer works for Nifong's office.

To the 11.05:

Yes--we don't know the merits of Cannon's claims at this point. We do know that Nifong handled them in a procedurally dubious fashion.

Anonymous said...

To 10:16 post: "what more do we need a voodoo priestess?" Actually no. The streets of Durham run rampant with them.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't surprise anyone that Nifong didnot follow procedure.

duke09parent said...

The story is now on the AP wire and will probably be on local t.v. news there and certainly in both the N&O and the Herald-Sun. The web sites for those papers have the story already. It's probably Prof. Johnson's post that put AP on it. They had to confirm with their own calls to Cannon before they could run the story. Ironically Cannon is the one who prosecuted Evans for the noise violation in June and Elmo for the shoplifting conspiracy. I wonder if she was forced by Nifong to do these?

Anonymous said...

living with niggers is difficult

Anonymous said...

To ALL who have criticized Mr. Couch - You are ALL a bunch of sorry bastards who don't have a fuckin' clue as to who he is. You're ASSUMPTIONS based on bullshit gossip is absolutly irrational. Personal life has nothing to do with the business world - and basically, I think you're all just jealous of the fact that he's an honest, good looking, well educated man - which many of you will NEVER be, or will NEVER have. Please get the fuck over the petty shit, get a real life - and focus on the important worldly issues that are affecting millions of people as we speak.

Anonymous said...

oooooooooooo...touchy,touchy.

Anonymous said...

The only people not guilty in Durham are the lacrosse players. For God's sake, the Duke president, faculty, police departments, and town of Durham nned to go on vacation. Has everyone in that town got their head in an improper place (You do know where that is?). Can the Feds even find Durham?

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