Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reade Seligmann Statement

I would like to start out by saying that we are all deeply saddened by the absence of Kirk Osborn on this very emotional day. Kirk stood by my side from the very beginning of this travesty and did all that he could to proclaim my innocence. Not only has North Carolina lost one of its finest attorneys, it has lost a man who embodied the words honor and integrity. We will never forget his sacrifices and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Today marks the end of a year long nightmare that has been a destructive force in so many peoples lives. The dark cloud of injustice that hung above our heads has finally cleared and we can now all look forward to continuing the life that has been taken from us. My family appreciates the efforts of Attorney General Roy Cooper and Special Prosecutors Jim Coman and Mary Winstead for their thorough investigation. While this day is long overdue, we recognize their diligence and perseverance to uncovering the truth in order to show the world that we have always been 100% innocent of these charges.

This past year has been the most difficult and painful period of my life and I would like to credit my family and friends for keeping me focused and bolstering my spirit throughout this agonizing journey. My Mom and Dad are the toughest, most loving parents anyone could ask for and it is because of there relentless will to defend my name that we were able to make it through the storm. I have been inspired by the courage and strength of both my parents and three brothers who have provided me with so much love, guidance and unquestionable faith in my innocence. I love you all so much.

I must also thank all of my attorneys. Kirk Osborn, Buddy Connor, Antonio Lewis, and Jim Cooney, along with the other defense teams. All of these men have worked tirelessly to ensure that three innocent men did not spend thirty years in prison for a hoax. I would like to specifically thank Jim Cooney for restoring my faith in the legal system. Through his bold leadership, incredible work ethic and sincere concern for my well being, we were finally able to achieve justice.

To the Evans’s and Finnerty’s, I will never forget your tremendous bravery and unwavering resolve throughout this unbearable ordeal. I wish you all the best in the future as we all move on with our lives and hope that we can repair the damage that was done.

I am forever grateful for all of the care, concern, and encouragement I received from my remarkable girlfriend Brooke and her family, the Delbarton community, the town of Essex Fells, KC Johnson , and everyone else who chose to stand up, use their voice and challenge the actions of a rogue district attorney.

This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If it is possible for law enforcement officials to systematically railroad us with no evidence whatsoever, it is frightening to think what they could do to those who do not to have the resources to defend themselves. So rather than relying on disparaging stereotypes, or creating political and racial conflicts, we must all take a step back from this case and learn from it. This tragedy has revealed that our society has lost site of the core principle of our legal system, the presumption of innocence.

For everyone who chose to speak out against us before the facts were known, I sincerely hope that you are never put in a position where you experience the same pain and heartache that you have caused our families. While your hurtful words and outrageous lies will forever be associated with this tragedy, everyone will always remember that we told the truth, and in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “truth is the best vindication against slander‘. If our case can bring to light the some of the flaws in our judicial system as well as discourage people from rushing to judgment, than the hardships we have endured over this past year will not have been in vain.

As the healing process begins for our families, I feel as though it is my responsibility to create something positive out of this experience. During my time away from school I got the chance to learn a lot about myself: Who I am and who I want to be. This case has shown me what the important things in life really are as my entire perspective on the world has changed. I view this situation as a unique opportunity to make a difference and I know that there are many people who can benefit from the lessons I have learned.

I fully intend on continuing my education and look forward to pursuing the goals I have set for myself. I have the deepest appreciation for my educational and athletic opportunities and my dream is to return to both by this fall. My ultimate aspiration moving forward, is to live a life that will make all of those who stood by my side throughout this injustice, proud to know that they defended the truth.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a statement. This kid is the real deal.

Joe K

Anonymous said...

good

Anonymous said...

If only there were more young men like these three.

Jen in NC said...

If it is possible for law enforcement officials to systematically railroad us with no evidence whatsoever, it is frightening to think what they could do to those who do not to have the resources to defend themselves.

The best point he could possibly raise.

Soobs said...

Wow - Cooney went after the Herald-Sun AND the "teachers." Incredible.

Anonymous said...

To think they can say things that matter without using words like racism.

Others need to learn from that.

However, being vindicated of a crime does not make one a suddenly extrordinary person. Didnt Finnerty get convicted of assaulting someone and was on probation prior to this happening?

I think the guys learned some humility although it certainly didnt need to be taught the way it was taught to them.

I hope the false accuser is not let off without real punishment.

Soobs said...

"Didnt Finnerty get convicted of assaulting someone and was on probation prior to this happening?"

IIRC, he wasn't prosecuted until AFTER he was indicted in this case. Even IF you are trying to imply he is of questionable character, what about the other two boys??

Anonymous said...

I want this guy back at Duke. I hope he realizes the students here (which are ultimately more important) want him back here and that he can walk around this campus and everyone will look at him and think 'there walks someone found innocent.'

Anonymous said...

Yeah he was convicted of throwing FAKE punches, he never touched the guy. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I don't think either of the two boys would be safe in Durham. Period. The other Duke students welcoming them back is one thing, they would still be in Durham, NC a town full of dirty cops and racist blacks. No way, they would be nuts to go back to Duke.

michael said...

Wade Smith took an indirect swipe at the police. And a direct swipe at the potbangers. These lawyers are weaving together how great the boys are, and how bad the cowards and railroaders are.

Anonymous said...

I'm struck by the fact that none of the guys said anything directly negative about Duke. It's amazing how much bigger than the group of 88 these guys are.

Anonymous said...

Reade is clearly a class act who refuses to let adversity define him. Articulate, thoughtful and full of integrity, he would be an incredible asset in any community, group, business or family.

Steve White said...

Mr. Seligmann wrote a powerful statement that contains humility, forgiveness and a call to justice for all. It is outstanding and one that should be read by everyone touched by this case.

Forget all the issues and accusations, all the potential lawsuits and anger. Read this statement and realize how extraordinary it is.

Well done, Mr. Seligmann.

HumboldtBlue said...

I only wish I had a pot to bang.

bill anderson said...

I really was impressed with him. Duke University is too damned stupid to realize what they lost with him.

Peter Wood can go to hell, with the things he said about Reade.

Gary Packwood said...

HumboldtBlue 5:04 said...

...I only wish I had a pot to bang.

::
That is a great thing to say. Clever. We should have thought of that for today.

GP

Anonymous said...

This young man has a steel rod for a spine. The spineless Duke adminstration and faculty would do well if they could learn from his shining example.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I hope that Duke students post a copy of this statement on the office door of each and every member of the Gang of 88. (Although, the language may be too eloquent and jargon-free for many of them to comprehend in any event).

tu nd said...

Collin, Dave, and Reade, you guys are amazing. You demonstrated unparalleled class and dignity throughout this horrible ordeal and indeed should be EXTREMELY proud of yourselves. You were not alone in the public during this fiasco. While many of us could never truly empathize or understand the pain and suffering you and your families were feeling, we suffered in our own ways alongside you. I lost many nights sleep thinking about you guys, and it's safe to say I speak for many members of the 'lacrosse family' - especially here on the east coast. We're so happy that you can officially move on with your lives now. You've demonstrated over the past year that you are each destined for sucess, and we wish you nothing but the best.

KC
Unbelievable job covering all aspects of this case. Thank you for opening up my eyes up to the harsh realization that the justice system as we know it is a work in progress with catastrophic flaws. Thank you for helping to reveal the unbelievable injustices that unfortunately came along with this case. Most importantly, thank you for putting the pieces of the puzzle together and helping Reade, Collin, and Dave deservedly get their lives back. Can't wait to read your book.

To Nifong, DPD, and the rest of the crooks involved in this hoax - to quote the 'New Black Panther Party': "Justice will be served..."

To the G88, Broadhead, Burness and various other cowards and enablers, I can only hope that one day you come back to planet earth capable of embracing reality and the truth.

Kynna said...

I have been lurking for a while but I just had to sighn in to say what a wonderful day this is. This statement is so far above the vicious words spoken and written about this young man, it's hard to believe.

I wish all the best for these families and I'm completely in awe of the people like KC Johnson who stood up for them and never stopped. Great work.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Reade said: "My ultimate aspiration...is to live a life that will make all of those who stood by my side throughout this injustice, proud to know that they defended the truth."

Reade, you've already accomplished that. And more.

Gary Packwood said...

The Seligmann Team Victory

There are millions of people all over the South who listen to 'victim' radio day and night.

All this week in preparation for today's news conference, 'victim' radio here has been 'gearing' up to pounce all over the concept of WHITE MAN'S Evidence, Justice and Truth.

Today, the AG pitched that concept up in the air when he clearly said... INNOCENT, Atty. Seligmann reached up and snagged that concept when he talked abut ACCOUNTABILITY for everyone including PROFESSORS and then he tossed that concept over to his son Reade who pounded that concept towards the goal post when he talked about VICTIMS who do not have the RESOURCES to fight the system.

Score!

My neighbor who is a retired AA Black railroad worker said about Reade... That boy gets it!

While all of us white folks like to talk about truth, and fairness ...AA Blacks want to hear words about Innocence, Accountability, Victims and Resources (not money).

There must be many FODU members who have been working on the words and concepts used today in the news conferences. You are to be congratulated.

I have a picture in my minds-eye of Reade in the AG role someday.

GP

John in Dublin California said...

A most impressive statement.

To KC, I've been a silent follower of your site for months now, thank you so much your insightful, honest and determined coverage of this fraud.

It's great to see true justice triumph.

Geoff said...

I have not been following the case that closely, however I am glad all charges against these guys were dropped and that their innocence was openly declared.

Having said that, I must point out the slight ridiculousness of this statement from Seligmann: "This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed."

Wow. That's self-involved, highly dramatic, and a bit weird. These guys got screwed real bad and it must have been awful for them, but is Seligmann really saying this is the first time he has become aware of a "tragic world of injustice?" What about all of the folks wrongly put on death row who have only recently been exonerated because of DNA evidence? What about the stuff going on in Darfur right now? What about a million zillion other things? This kid seems to have a pretty small worldview.

Now, I know, he follows it up immediately with "If it is possible for law enforcement officials to systematically railroad us with no evidence whatsoever, it is frightening to think what they could do to those who do not to have the resources to defend themselves" which is good, but then he ends with "This tragedy has revealed that our society has lost site of the core principle of our legal system, the presumption of innocence." I don't think this case shows that the "presumption of innocence" is out the window (it's one stupid and bizarre case for God's sake!) and I don't think this is the big problem in our criminal justice system today. Most of the problems have to do with racial and economic inequalities and most of the problems don't generally harm folks like Seligmann.

Along these lines the comment of poster "tu nd" to KC thanking him for "opening up my eyes up to the harsh realization that the justice system as we know it is a work in progress with catastrophic flaws" is equally troublesome. The justice system in this country has massive problems and it has for a very long time (the whole time actually). More often than not, privileged white dudes like these Duke guys are not the ones who get screwed. Rather it is poor people and often poor people of color who are most ill served by a system that rewards those with money and clearly has some inherent racial biases (for example the well documented sentencing disparities for whites and blacks who committ the same crimes).

The fact that so many people reading this blog and following this story are only now inclined to see a problem in our criminal justice system (and the wrong one at that) is, I think, arguably more disturbing than the case itself and speaks to the level of privilege and insularity from injustice that so many white Americans (including apparently Seligmann) enjoy.

Don't get me wrong. Nifong is clearly an idiot jerk who should be disbarred and a lot of other folks have comported themselves in a horrible manner in this case, but Nifong and this case are not the real problem in the U.S. justice system. The fact is that this is a one-off case and these lacrosse players have probably literally received more help than any wrongly accused average American in the 21st century (as Seligmann implicitly acknowledges). Not that they don't deserve it, but others do too.

As such, I'll be interested to see if KC Johnson and other DIWers will work in the future to help some random African American guy (for example) who is wrongly accused of a crime or already sitting in prison for something he did not do. Such things happen everyday, but since these stories are not as sexy as the "Duke lacrosse case" and since the individuals don't have the connections that white collegiate athletes do they do not get covered (again, Seligmann's comment refers to this apparently, but does not explore it in any detail).

I hope DIW fans view this as one of the lessons of the case (as jen in nc did) and I hope KC Johnson uses his considerable skills and his now considerable audience to work for some random innocent person caught in the criminal justice system who does not have as many people helping them as the Duke players did. I'm sure, for example, that he could contact any number of anti-death penalty or Legal Aid-type groups to find a case along these lines, and I really think it would make a nice complement to his work on this case.

Anyhow, I'm sure some people will hate that comment if they bother to read it (and no one will), but I truly am glad these guys were fully exonerated. Now maybe we can talk about some real problems. Peace.

luke said...

"I am forever grateful for all of the care, concern, and encouragement I received from my remarkable girlfriend Brooke and her family, the Delbarton community, the town of Essex Fells, KC Johnson..."

Bravo KC.

Bella said...

"I don't think this case shows that the "presumption of innocence" is out the window (it's one stupid and bizarre case for God's sake!)" - Geoff

Wow. Where do I start? I think anyone who posts on or even reads this blog and has followed this case can give you a long list of how these boys, and I'm sure many before them who haven't received such attention, were robbed completely of their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Nifong never proved anything, as is evidenced by the AG's strong language today, namely his use of the word "innocent." Nifong saw an opportunity and, whatever the motivation, moved forward on this case, making comments about his certainty that a crime was committed and these boys committed it. But Nifong didn't act alone. So many members of the media , some of whom hold actual law degrees (ahem, Nancy Grace), who were so certain, even without evidence that these boys were guilty. Even when evidence to the contrary started to surface, many members of the media did not change their position. In the same token, Reade and Collin were kicked out of school, endured persecution by fellow students and professors, and saw the entire team punished for charges that had not been substantiated.

And I just focused on this case. So many people are presumed guilty based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, and so on. While this case defied what people would consider discrimination, these guys were pursued because they are white, male, and wealthy. Fortunately, they had the means to prove their innocence (although the DA should have had to prove their guilt), while others aren't so lucky.

Geoff said...

Bella just to clarify my point, which was probably articulated poorly, I fully agree that the presumption of innocence was thrown out in this case. It's terrible that happened. My only point it that generalizing to the argument "the whole justice system throws out the presumption of innocence and this is a huge problem" is a stretch. I don't think a lack of presumption of innocence is the biggest problem in the justice system, which is why I think focusing too much on this particular--and very non-typical--case could cause one to draw less than useful general conclusions.

tu nd said...

Geoff,
I don’t doubt for one second that similar injustices to less ‘privileged’ citizens have occurred before. That said, it doesn’t make this case any less catastrophic. I’m not a lawyer or law official, and I’ve been lucky enough in my life to never stare down the false accusation gun barrel. B/c of KC’s work more people in positions of authority like Nifong are going to be darn sure to be accountable for their actions, and less likely to falsely prosecute ANYONE. My statement does not hold boundaries. No one deserves to be falsely accused and/or convicted of any crime, no matter what their race, class, or gender. This case became public for all the wrong reasons, and if there is a silver lining, it could be work like KC’s - helping not only the Duke kids, but all citizens who (to quote Reade) “may not have the resources to defend themselves” in the future.

I can’t help but address the absolute ignorance of your observation of Reade’s statement: “Wow. That's self-involved, highly dramatic, and a bit weird…This kid seems to have a pretty small worldview…it's one stupid and bizarre case for God's sake!” I’m sorry, but I think ANYONE facing a false charge punishable with 30 years in prison has the right to be ‘self involved’ on their day of exoneration.

Cheap shots like that and statements like “What about a million zillion other things?”are not going to build a lot of credit for you here today.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seligman may end up being
the Joseph in this story -
falsely accused by Potifer's
wife, ultimately being the
savior of both Egypt and Israel
during a time of famine.

The hottest fires temper the best
steel.

(That having been said, it would
be nice to see equal justice
for Nancy Grace, when compared
with Don Imus: Imus' ignorant
comments pale at what she attempted
to do to this fine young man.
Give her the hook!)

As for Reade's future,
I'm reminded of Tom Hank's
character's remark, when he says:

"James...earn this."

The big difference is that this
young man, Reade Seligman,
deserved none of the pain and
suffering he's been smothered
with. But still...we're expecting
great things from him.

Best Wishes, Young Man

Mac

Evil Sandmich said...

"This past year has been the most difficult and painful period of my life..."

That's one of the largest understatements I think I'll ever read.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic statement by Reade. He is truly a remarkable young man who will go on to do great things. I wish him the best.

As a college student, who grew up in Annapolis, MD I have been surround by lacrosse my entire life. This whole situation really hit home when I realized that these 3 young men wrongfully prosecuted could have just as easily been some of my many friends playing college lacrosse. I have supported them from the beginning and am so glad to see that justice has finally arrived.

Anonymous said...

Geoff:

Speaking of the self-absorbed . . .

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope a lawsuit is filed against Duke's spineless president, Richard Broadhead. Like Nifong, Broadhead convicted these young men in the media by firing the lacrosse coach and cancelling the season. If the three young men do not file a lawsuit, I would hope the Duke Board of Trustees will send this poor excuse for a college president packing.

Anonymous said...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/kevin_armstrong/04/16/delbarton.seligmann/1.html
here is a great story about reade and the support of his alma mater Delbarton.

Anonymous said...

I miss Reade. We havn't hung out since freshman year. Reade was one of my favorite guys ever since I met him! I don't have words. I just read yalls comments, and I needed to affirm it again, why not. I miss you like hell, reade!

-alice

Anonymous said...

Cried like a big sissy today at court.

Anonymous said...

The disbarrment and resignation of Nifong today is a very very small punishment that he actually deserves for doing what he did to these good people. Its shameful that the race card is always played when its in the best interest of thoes playing it. Nifong should be thrown in jail for no less than 20 years for what he did.

Anonymous said...

Praise God that Nifong was disbarred! Some justice was done today. Judgement day is coming for people like Nifong. God will not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows! Nifong will reap a harvest of regret and torment over this. Hopefully Nifong will repent of this evil and call it for what it is, evil.

Anonymous said...

What person, persons or association hired the stripper? Was Seligmann connected to them?

Did Seligmann visit other sexual exhibitions?

If the mob and the media were so intense in the initial clamor for Seligmann's hide, and were completely WRONG, why should we now believe that the mob and the media are all wholesdale RIGHT?

What makes a rich jock, who sobs in public about his problems, a hero?

Anonymous said...

Reade Seligmann is truly a hero. I'm glad he hasn't backed down from helping the case and wish the best for him.

I hope Crystal Mangum is charged ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Would like to tell
Reade Seligmann and the other
two. Do not go on ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN
for interviews.

Yvonne said...

From the moment I heard the news that these boys were being charged, I never believed it for a minute! I am so relieved and happy for them. I only wish that a picture of the accuser would be published. I don't recall seeing her face plastered all over TV like they did to these young men.

I was impressed by Reade this morning while being interviewed by NBC. I only wish that he did not sound so much like a politician when asked about how he felt he was treated by Duke. He is so well spoken that I believe he could have gotten his point accross that he was wronged by the school. Also, don't forget, these very stations who are now singing yor praises are the very ones who sounded like they presumed your guilt as well. The media did you wrong too!!!

This act of racism should not be forgotten. If this situation was the other way around, we would never be hearing the end of it! Whites need to speak up about the racism that occurs to them with much more avengence. We let it pass by way to much!

I would also like to say that I find the question, What makes a rich jock, blah blah blah.. absolutly repulsive. That person who wrote that does not posses an ounce of class and should join Nifong in the sewer.

Good luck at Brown!

Anonymous said...

That was an amazing statement. These boys are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

The sewer is too good for Nifong. If he was half a man, he'd do what the Japanese used to do when they were disgraced. Mike, do everyone a favor and commit hara-kiri!

Anonymous said...

Wait and see how much ruin the families of these boys inflict on Nifong et al. It's unfortunate that people without money cannot feel the same sense of revenge-driven fulfillment that I am sure these families are aiming for.
I would not go so far as to call these boys heroes or sources of inspiration. What they have done for the world is purely passive, as they did not actually do anything good. They just did nothing bad. It would, loosely, be like thanking a stranger for not robbing my house. They deserve respect for their poise on camera. But does that really tell us anything truthfully about them? Many of you are making these boys out to be deities. That type of thinking is what got them into trouble in the first place. Why must everyone assume, either negatively or positively, that someone they read about or see on TV is a certain way?
I am happy that these young men were exonerated. It was the ultimate backfire in the face of a society and mass media that loves to see rich, white, privileged kids go down. Mostly it is the "rich" part that draws the attention, however...mostly.
I believe it is okay to give the benefit of the doubt to most people. But the GREAT majority of us do not know these kids. We only know that they did not rape what's-her-face.
Regarding Nifong, everything he has done up to this point has been suspect and he was, rightfully, disbarred. But you cannot say that he should kill himself or that he should be in the sewer. Remember that many of your views of him are swayed by the media, too. You do not know this man. You do not know if he is really evil (as many of you have already convicted him of being) or if he is a guy that made a HUGE mistake. Don't be hypocrites.
Matt H.

Anonymous said...

As a Black American female and Durham, NC resident, I would like to say that not all of thought these young men were guilty and we are not all racist, news reporters never wanted to speak to those of us who understand truth and innocent until proven guilty.

I am more than pleased with the outcome and am sadden that anyone would paint Black American’s in Durham or anywhere or any race with a broad brush. Nifong used a community’s hatred of an institution that employs a huge percentage of Durham residents and ignorance to gain reelection.

The biggest racist in the whole nightmare may very well be former DA Nifong, he played the race card and won reelection (and it cost him in the end, justice served); Miss Mangum allowed him to really rape her and no one wins.

The system worked because these young men come from families who had the resources to go the distance, we should all be so blessed, we should all work to build a life of comfort for our families and we should never begrudge anyone there financial success.

Broadhead was a wimp from day one and while he should be removed from his position as President of Duke University he will not be and Nifong and Miss Mangum both deserve a day in court.

Congratulations Reade, Collin and Dave.

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Anonymous said...

Very nice post. I wish only happiness, peace, and healing for your family. Stand tall.

The same thing happened to my dad. Falsely accused of rape. Sadly he gets to spend the rest of his life in jail after being found guilty with no evidence. Only word against word.

Whatever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty? Why is there such a rush to believe the accuser and to punish? Does it make us feel safer by reading it or seeing it in the media? Must the men and women of our judicial system strut and display their power at the cost of the accused and their families? It's sickening. Change needs to happen.