“I spoke out early and often when this case began, mainly because it actually hit home. I am currently a rising senior at the University of Maryland, a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference school alongside Duke University, and as a freshman, was the manager for the men’s NCAA division I lacrosse team. Beyond that, I grew up on Long Island, in a town called Garden City. Known mainly for its intense lacrosse team, beautiful homes, sprawling golf courses, tight-knit community, and “Leave it to Beaver” families, Garden City was an ideal place to grow up. Incidentally, Collin Finnerty, one of the former Duke lacrosse players who was falsely accused, indicted, and charged with second degree rape, kidnapping, and sexual assault, grew up only blocks away from me. I also attended high school with several of the men on the 2005-2006 Duke men’s lacrosse team. So to say I had a lot invested in this case was an understatement.
“I watched for almost a year as night after night, talk shows, news shows, and even comedy shows, focused on this team, including the parts of their lives that intersected with my own; I never knew that someone’s grade point average, family income, high school extra curricular activities, church, and property taxes had anything to do with being charged with a rape. I also never knew that underage drinking and strippers were “issues” that only affected white, upper-class, students at “elite” institutions. But apparently, I was wrong.
“I sat by as news papers, magazines, and news broadcasts labeled these men elitists, misogynists, racists, spoiled “frat boy” alcoholic brats who have had everything handed to them by their “rich daddies”. I watched my town come under fire as a breeding ground for racism. Nancy Grace and Wendy Murphy condemned anyone who had ever so much as picked up a lacrosse stick as a rapist, and black “activists” used this case to further the idea that every white male who comes from wealth is automatically a racist pig out to destroy black people. I watched members of my own team at Maryland face the scrutiny, and found myself defending them often, clarifying that not only were the stereotypes surrounding the “culture of lacrosse” not true, but that in fact these men were the closest things to brothers I ever had. They were men who made sure I got home safe at night, picked me up when I needed rides, studied with me and helped me pass my intro to computers class, guys who stood up for me when other guys at the bars got too rowdy. These weren’t men who assaulted me, raped me, or treated me badly, nor were the guys I had come to know on the Duke team.
“After the case began to unravel, and when it finally came to light that the prosecution of the three men was unethical and false, I saw an even grosser side to the public; a ravenous, unfair, vengeful side that didn’t care for justice, only sought to see the rich white kids get punished for who they were. Suddenly, people began mocking their families, their parents, the way they dressed, the way they walked, anything they said in their own defense. In a recent article published by the Wilmington Journal, a certain Mr. Bailey even referred to the members of the team as “pampered white frat boys”. While sometimes referred to as “lax”, it does not represent lambda alpha chi, but instead lacrosse. A sport, an athletic commitment much like the other programs at Duke; highly competitive, where the members of the team are chosen from thousands of qualified lacrosse players around the country and world based on athletic and academic performance. As for the team being entirely white, as Mr. Bailey would lead you to believe, Devon Sherwood, a freshman player at the time of the alleged rape, is African American. And in terms of pampered, many of the players parents are working class members of their communities, including police officers, teachers, and firefighters. Why Mr. Bailey, or anyone for that matter, would judge a group of men so harshly and cruelly without researching their backgrounds first, let alone even meeting them, is beyond me. I find it funny that those who adamantly fight against racism, sexism, and classism against minority working class women, had no problem judging these men on the fact that they were white males from wealthy families. I guess it only matters when it’s going a certain way.
“I would like to also say that as a current student at a large and prestigious public research university, this “insane, wild, illegal” party the team threw, looks like a game of tidily winks compared to some of the parties I have attended in my four years at college. I stand proudly and say I, like 95% of the rest of students in college across America, have gotten drunk underage, seen a stripper, owned a fake ID, played a game of beer pong, attended multiple parties, watched other people do keg stands, and witnessed a whole lot of sexual exploration. Condemn me if you wish, but let he who has never “sinned” cast the first stone. This is college folks, like it or not, deny it or not. I speak on behalf of my generation. This is not a “white thing”, it’s a college thing. And to assume a black college student has never urinated in public, or said a dirty word, simply because Nancy Grace wasn’t highlighting it, is pathetic. Let’s get real people.
“Furthermore, the favorite topic of degradation many of the anti-Duke lacrosse community members enjoy has been the players’ socio-economic standing. For some reason, people have been lead to believe that because the three falsely accused men came from comfortable backgrounds, they are not human. They are not capable of feeling pain, of suffering, or of being kept down. People say that because they will still have “good lives”, we should not feel sorry for the Duke members.
“Let me tell you about pain and suffering. I grew up in the same town as Collin Finnerty, and the same lifestyle as many of the members of the team. I lived in a beautiful home, on an acre of property, had the best of everything given to me from birth. I went to one of the best public schools on Long Island, played lacrosse and field hockey, and enjoyed summers in the Hamptons. When I was sixteen, this all changed. My father, a prominent maritime lawyer, well respected on Wall Street and in our community, strong family man, had died during an open heart surgery. My life, and the lives of my mother and sister were changed forever.
“We cried. We grieved. We felt as though our family had been ripped apart. A piece of me was gone, and we had to deal. But I will tell you what we did not do. My family did not roll around in wads of money. We did not remind ourselves how “wealthy” we were. We did not pride ourselves on monetary comforts. We gathered around our family, and grieved over the loss of our father. At age sixteen, I gave the eulogy at his funeral. I stood before more than 200 funeral attendees and spoke of the lessons my father taught me; acceptance, understanding, patience, selflessness, graciousness, kindness, and love. Success, money, wealth, country clubs, cars, and bank accounts were never mentioned, nor thought about. So for those who believe pain, suffering, and heart ache are all “privileges” of the working class black man, think again. Rich or poor, black or white, we all bleed the same. And in most cases, no amount of money can relieve our pain. There is not a day that goes by that I wouldn’t trade my home, my cars, my bank account, anything, to be able to speak to my father again.
“Looking back over the case, I only wish my father had been here to see it all go down. My father, who often did pro-bono work for minority clients in his later years, right up until the night before his surgery in his hospital bed, would be heart broken to see the divisive nature of the NAACP and other “liberal” groups, who exploited the racial issues for their own agendas. He would have been heartbroken to hear people who had never stepped foot in Garden City, attacking a community he gave so much to. He would have been heartbroken to hear the testimony of Mr. Evans, father of falsely accused Dave Evans, who developed type I diabetes due to the stress the false allegations against his son had put on him, as he too suffered from diabetes. And above all, he would have been heartbroken to see so many people attacking these parents for being “wealthy”, and for giving their children a life most would die for. Because since when in this country, has it been considered wrong or improper to sacrifice everything for your family? Since when has it been deemed shameful to provide a life for your child where education, opportunities, and values are provided? Why was it wrong for these families to encourage success, education, and talent in their children? Why was it wrong that these families and parents worked hard to provide a life for their children that most would consider the American Dream?
“So to all those who had were so confident they really knew that team, to those who based their entire opinion of the men on one party, to those who judged my hometown, my favorite sport, my life, my friends, my classmates, and my values without ever experiencing any of it, I simply say thank you. Thank you for constantly reminding myself, as well as the rest of the world, how truly blessed I was to grow up in a world where jealousy, envy, revenge, and stereotypes did not control my life. People say money is the root of all evil; however, is it those who have it and use it wisely, or those who don’t and hate those who do, that are truly the evil ones?”
Former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler was on the West Coast last week giving a lacrosse clinic, and the Contra Costa Times ran a lengthy, insightful interview with him. Jack Emmer, Pressler’s college coach (at Washington and Lee University), remembered his former player as someone who “wanted to be successful. He knew what it took to be successful, and he demanded that of himself and his teammates.”
Recalling events of spring 2006, Pressler noted, “It was mass hysteria. People prejudged us, the players, the program. Everybody rushed to judgment that this was true with absolutely no evidence.”
Pressler had positive—and accurate—words about his former players at Duke. “How they handled themselves—the class, the integrity—they stayed on the high road and never lowered themselves like so many adults did, trying to take them down.”
As for the University itself, Pressler said, “I’m a fan of the players and of some of the coaches, but you can’t do this to people and get away with it and not apologize for it. Nobody has gotten an apology from anybody. That to me is an amazing thing.”
The blog also has posted a poll asking visitors to speculate on which Whichard Committee witnesses will invoke the 5th amendment. Right now, it’s a neck-and-neck competition for the lead between Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and ex-Investigator Linwood Wilson. Cpl. David Addison—he of the repeated false statements in his capacity as DPD spokesperson—is running a surprising sixth, and Tara Levicy—she of the willingness to change her story along with Crystal Mangum—is well at the back of the pack.
Fans of Addison or Levicy need to show more support . . .
Silence, and time, are a criminal's friend, and the Duke administration, by being silent, is an accessory to the crime that this group of professors committed.The Sixth Amendment demands a speedy trial for those accused. Thus the saying, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied." Perhaps the Duke administration, with its feckless treatment of its tenured staff, hopes that by being silent this will eventually blow over, and Duke can go back to teaching our children about justice, habeus corpus and the terrible villains that would deny us our rights to these things . . .
. . . And then maybe in another class, teach about irony.
But until the members of this Group of 88 publicly apologize for their actions, the moral authority of the entire faculty is questioned, and they have no right to discuss with our children about the values that we hold dear, and that brave men and women have died defending.
And it ought to be an apology as strong as the original message, say, a paid advertisement in a prominent newspaper with all of their signatures. But it should not be just one of them, breaking ranks and feeling a little guilty, claiming to speak for all of them in a 10-second sound bite.
I would never send my children to Duke, now that I can see that its faculty would gang up and deny its own students basic freedoms and rights that we cherish. I would not donate money to Duke, or attend its basketball games, since doing so supports this culture of intolerance and fear.
As long as the Group of 88, and the Duke administration, remain silent, they have the moral equivalence of a dictatorship. The original action of the Group of 88 was outrageous, but their silence and that of the administration is even more so.