Nifong was smug and self-assured [at their early April meeting, Bill] Thomas said: "I had 27 years of experience with him, and he was looking me in the eye. He said he had interviewed her, he discussed the details of the case, he believed her and that my view of her as perhaps being a call girl working for an escort service, running around making things up for financial gain, was absolutely false. ... He went on to say what a wonderful person she was. He said she was fully believable, she was intelligent, articulate ... and telling a convincing story about what happened."
Nifong didn't tell Thomas that he knew Mangum and her family. In 1992, one of her uncles who owned a small grocery store in Durham was slain in a robbery. The case dragged on for three years, but finally the killer was tried and convicted.
Nifong was the prosecutor, and the case earned him the Mangum family's confidence, which would have helped Crystal Mangum feel comfortable with Nifong in the Duke case, according to her mother, her brother and a family friend.
"The whole family knew him and trusted him because of that case," said Delois Burnette, a minister who has known the Mangums for decades. "People had confidence in him that he would do us right because he had prosecuted that case."
Neff's revelation should serve to raise additional questions about newspapers' policies of not identifying those who claim sexual assault. That Nifong had a history with the family of the person he came to call "my victim" is relevant--not determinative, but one piece of the puzzle worth considering. Granting the accuser anonymity prevented this type of information--or the damning testimony of Mangum's strip-club supervisors--from coming to light.