With little left to do as he waits for his ethics trial, perhaps the figure Liestoppers has dubbed “Inspecteur D.A.” should devote himself to the “case of the missing chief.” Yesterday’s Herald-Sun featured a front-page story detailing concerns about the recurring, lengthy absences of Police Chief Steve Chalmers.
The chief, of course, was missing in action as Nifong (improperly) usurped operational control of the lacrosse investigation. Then he appears to have missed another extended stint last month. And City Manager Patrick Baker has promised a make-work job for Chalmers for the final four months of his contract, from September through December of this year.
This record, H-S reporter Ray Gronberg reported, “has prompted considerable behind-the-scenes speculation about the department’s day-to-day management.” City Councilor Eugene Brown remarked that he was “hearing more and more complaints—from a variety of people” about Chalmers’ absences.
Several other members of the Council expressed concern, but said they would trust City Manager Patrick Baker, to whom Chalmers reports. This, of course, is the same Patrick Baker who polled all lacrosse case officers and fantastically reported that all claimed the accuser gave the same version of events. (In fact, the accuser failed to tell the same story to two different officers, much less all of them, and gave some officers—Himan in particular—several different versions.) No doubt civil lawyers are salivating at Baker’s “report.”
This is also the same Patrick Baker who oversaw
Meanwhile, the city attorney’s office refused a H-S request to release how much time away from the office spent in 2006. That move doesn’t inspire much confidence, either.
Good commentary in college newspapers has ranged beyond the Duke campus. In the past week alone, analyses of the case have appeared in the campus newspapers at Wisconsin-Madison, Emory, and Cornell. Ari Rabkin in the Cornell Sun captured the sentiment of these pieces, looking at what remains a disturbing anomaly of this case: “While most of the country has reacted with horror to the way the accused students have been treated, many on the Duke [arts and sciences] faculty had a quite different reaction. Their comments about the case reveal some unwelcome truths about university faculty and how they sometimes view their students.”
Rabkin’s column recalled the litany of campus events—the allegations about Kim Curtis’ behavior toward the lacrosse players in her class; “the initial reaction from many quarters [of] certainty that the accuser was being truthful, and that the lacrosse players were beasts”; and the embarrassing “racialist rhetoric” from Houston Baker. Rabkin (appropriately) ridiculed Group of 88 member Alex (drinks and “hookup”) Rosenberg, whose “studied outrage calls to mind that scene in
In the end, Rabkin lamented, “Many members of the
The “clarifying” faculty’s missive proved to be one of the worst p.r. moves of the entire case. Rather than exonerate the Group of 88, the new statement only recalled attention to the original version. And the combination of a defiant tone and an utter refusal to even consider apologizing generated scorn from Dan Abrams to Charlotte Allen.
Another fine piece on the issue came from Mary Laney of the
Laney quoted Charles Osgood of CBS News, who once said, “Being politically correct is always having to say you’re sorry.” Except, it appears, to your own students.
Seligmann defense attorney Jim Cooney gave an interview, his first about the case, yesterday to McClatchy newspapers. Cooney signaled his arrival in the case at the October hearing, during which he eviscerated Nifong’s claim of receiving no alibi information from the defense. (Seligmann’s alibi had been filed on May 1, though Nifong stated publicly that he didn’t read it, since he lacked the time to peruse “fiction.”) And Cooney’s examination of the hapless Dr. Brian Meehan provided the Perry Mason moment in the December 15 hearing, when Meehan admitted that he and Nifong had entered into an agreement to intentionally withhold exculpatory DNA evidence.
In his interview, Cooney noted that while the media misplayed the case initially, in a “fairly rare” occurrence many journalists have reconsidered their views. (I suppose the Herald-Sun and Wilmington Journal are battling for recognition as the last to abandon Nifong’s case.) He expressed confidence that the current prosecutors would evaluate the case fairly and accordingly drop all charges. And he pulled no punches on the deleterious effects of this case, noting that it has worsened race relations in
Two especially revealing answers. When asked whether “we’ll ever know what happened during the team party on March 13, 2006,” Cooney responded bluntly and correctly:
I feel very confident that we know what happened. I am also confident that there are certain people who will never believe the facts of this case because it does not fit their view of the case or their personal agendas. The simple truth, as the facts show, is that there was no rape, no sex offense and no kidnapping.
Also, Cooney perceptively analyzed why the case attracted so much attention.
I think there were really three factors. The first was that this case was a “perfect storm” of race, class and gender issues—it appeared to appeal to our worst thoughts about male athletes and underprivileged women of color. Second, the district attorney was so adamant and certain in his public statements that these crimes occurred—and that they were racially motivated—that even casual viewers could not help but be outraged by it. The third was that a number of constituencies—both the media and individuals with various race, gender and class agendas—then seized upon the case for their own purposes. This created a Pandora’s box that, once opened, could not be shut.
The third group, obviously, would include the Group of 88 and the state NAACP, the last bastions of the Nifong enablers.
Under the category of truth is stranger than fiction, readers of the N&O’s
The group just released a tune called “I Still Believe in
A few days ago, Liestoppers ran an amazing post by a late 1990s Duke graduate and English major, whose “all-time favorite course was Professor Laurie Shannon’s thought-provoking Shakespeare class.” The author said she “was heartbroken to learn that Professor Shannon signed both the Group of 88’s ‘listening’ ad and the Concerned Duke Faculty’s non-apology.”
The post examined a consistent pattern of how race has subsumed gender as the preferred narrative of the case. To cite one example, the post recalled the silence (or, in the case of Karla Holloway, worse) as members of the national media patronizingly attacked the women’s lacrosse team, many of whose members wore armbands or headbands sympathizing with the accused players in this year’s women’s Final Four.
Now, of course, members of the women’s team are viewed as heroes: students who not only had the courage of their convictions, but whose convictions have been wholly vindicated.
At the time, however, commentators from Harvey Araton to Stephen A. Smith to Kathy Redmond to—of course—Holloway had nothing but criticism to offer. I recently asked women’s lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel whether any of these reporters had offered even a private apology to her or her team. Unsurprisingly, the answer is no.
The Liestoppers poster lamented,
When I was in college people thought that Title IX and the rise of women’s athletics was important to produce women of the caliber of these lacrosse players and dispel patronizing attitudes that female students were “little girls” incapable of expressing reasoned opinions and taking positions on public issues. Where are those Title IX defenders now? Hasn’t the honorable conduct of the women’s lacrosse team proved their point? Why not say so?
Those waiting to hear from Women’s Studies program director (and “clarifying” faculty member) Robyn Wiegman to respond to such questions might be waiting for some time. After all, the program’s webpage for months featured Holloway’s essay attacking the women lacrosse players. Apparently ideology trumps gender for the Duke women’s studies faculty.
In late August, Nifong termed himself “very pleased” and said it “made me feel good” to have Victoria Peterson sign on as his citizens’ committee co-chair. In addition to her homophobic rants and her claims that
A recently released Duke Police report shows that Peterson did more than simply stand silently on the platform. According to the report of Officer S.M. Tiffin,
Capt. Evans informed me that during the rally, Ms. Peterson was advocating burning down the house at 610 N. Buchanan. Capt. Evans told me that he quietly asked her not to continue telling people to burn the house. He also said that the leader of the group also stated that he did not agree with burning the property.
So the figure that Nifong welcomed as his citizen committee co-chair advocated burning down private property and adopted a more radical position than the head of a hate group. Incredible.