Two books on the case will be officially released tomorrow. It’s Not About the Truth, co-authored by Don Yaeger and former coach Mike Pressler, offers a behind-the-scenes look at how everything that’s happened since last March affected Pressler, his family, and the senior class he had recruited to Duke. The book also provides background on the Duke lacrosse program,
I was especially pleased to see a nuanced, sensitive portrayal of Sue Pressler, someone who has been a tower of strength over the last 15 months. Despite having every reason to respond to developments with bitterness, she’s done exactly the opposite, showing extraordinary class and grace.
A Rush to Injustice, co-authored by Nader Baydoun and R. Stephanie Good, has a few revelations, although it’s more of a personal memoir about how a Duke graduate came to view with distaste the actions of his university.
Today’s post will touch on the new items from the two books dealing with the legal and police aspects of the case; next week, after the Nifong trial, a similar post will examine some of the revelations regarding Duke.
Both books portray Nifong as a man with deep character flaws.
Three especially revealing vignettes:
1.) The Yaeger/Pressler book tells the story of Nifong, then traffic court czar, getting into an argument with a visitor from
Nifong’s response? “My name is Mike Nifong and I am the Chief Asshole of the
(Freda Black recalled that “a lot of people thought he was being paid too much to negotiate traffic tickets.”)
2.) Baydoun is the only author, it seems, to whom Wes Covington has spoken (
Nifong’s response? “I don’t shake hands with interns.”
3.) Freda Black (admittedly not a dispassionate observer) commented on Nifong’s general trial strategy.
Nifong, she recalled, “didn’t really like to prepare very much for a case. He found it be thrilling to just sort of go and do it off the cuff.” This, certainly, appeared to be his approach to the lacrosse case.
Butch Williams observed, “Traditionally, he’s always been number two in a sled dog crew. When Nifong became number one, he still thought like number two. He didn’t know how to navigate those curves and took the sled right over the hill.”
Nifong and the Case
The Baydoun book recounts several heretofore unrevealed conversations between Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and
Gottlieb complained that he was being pressured by D.A.’s office to get the players in sooner rather than later. He also told
This portrayal of events, of course, flies in the face of Nifong’s apparent strategy to blame his ethics difficulties on the DPD.
In the Baydoun book, Bob Ekstrand also states that Nifong, incredibly, wanted to arrange the arrests of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty while they were in class—so the entire affair could be covered by the national press. This gambit was too much even for Judge Ron Stephens, who blocked it.
Also, Ekstrand’s investigator was the first person to speak with Angel Altmon (the Kroger’s security guard who encountered Kim Roberts and Mangum after the party). The investigatory asked Altmon if Mangum could have been raped; Altmon responded, “Ain’t no way.”
Neither Nifong nor the police have explained why they didn’t speak with Altmon—this blasé approach certainly contrasts with the claims from the Baker/Chalmers report that the DPD eagerly sought exculpatory evidence.
The Yaeger/Pressler book has the most detail of anything yet to appear on Mangum’s pre-party activities and reputation. The always quotable Butch Williams mocked the early media coverage of the case, whose tenor was set in the deeply flawed Samiha Khanna interview, which made Crystal look like “Sweet Polly Purebred, who met some hooligans that took advantage of her.” Williams was blunt: “C’mon, kids. She wasn’t this little poor North Carolina Central student working the fields. She was a whore.”
Joe Cheshire, meanwhile, shared some of the results from defense research: namely that Mangum rarely saw her children, and that the defense couldn’t even prove that she was a fulltime student at NCCU. Given the schedule described in the various police statements on the case, it seems inconceivable that she could have been going to class fulltime.
Yaeger also obtained an interview with H.P. (“Fats”) Thomas, the former security manager at Mangum’s strip club. Thomas described Mangum as “more of a hooker than a stripper. She was stripping as advertising for hooking.” If that portrayal sounds familiar, it should: it corroborates Kim Roberts’ March 22, 2006 statement that Mangum wanted to return to the lacrosse house to make more money.
“This girl,” said Thomas, “is a professional streetwalker from
In this week’s ethics trial, will Nifong claim that the police didn’t tell him of Mangum’s reputation before he launched his pre-primary publicity barrage claiming that “diffuse edema of the vaginal walls” provided conclusive medical proof of a gang rape?