Last week brought unusual news from the Whichard Committee: not only has the second meeting of the committee not yet been scheduled, but City Manager Patrick Baker said he didn’t even know if Sgt. Mark Gottlieb would testify.
Given Gottlieb’s performance in this case, anything less than a full-scale, public questioning of the sergeant would render the committee useless.
Gottlieb, it’s worth remembering, entered this case with a disturbing record of having arrested ten times as many Duke students, all for trivial offenses, as the other three District Two supervisors combined in the months before the lacrosse party. More problematic, several students leveled credible allegations of misconduct—ranging from lying on the stand to excessive use of force to discrimination based on ethnicity.
Despite this behavior, no evidence exists that the DPD took disciplinary action against Gottlieb. Indeed, in a September 2006 interview, Capt. Ed Sarvis stated that Gottlieb was following official DPD policy—implicitly suggesting that the department wanted more officers like the rogue sergeant, at least in dealings with Duke students.
Gottlieb, as we all know, claimed to have retained no contemporaneous notes; in his Bar deposition, he stated that he had “a dry-erase board” in his office, and “was under the impression that [Ben Himan] was taking photographs of the board, and when we finished that we would clear it. That wasn’t done.”
In July 2006, he nonetheless produced a 33-page, typewritten memorandum, which described in minute detail conversations from months before. In his deposition, he admitted that he wrote most of this memorandum in early July, just before its submission.
There are only two logical explanations for the “dry-board/straight-from-memory” notetaking style:
1.) Gottlieb is stunningly incompetent.
2.) The Gottlieb memorandum attempted to obstruct justice by manufacturing inculpatory evidence.
The second explanation seems to be the far likelier one. The “straight-from-memory” memorandum contradicted other material in the discovery file on at least eleven occasions. The memorandum contradicted the handwritten or typed notes of Officer Himan. Of Officer Soucie. Of Officer Reid. Of the UNC doctors.
Each and every one of these contradictions produced a version of events more favorable to Mike Nifong’s case.
The current DPD strategy is to “blame Nifong.” But Mike Nifong didn’t order Mark Gottlieb to produce the “straight-from-memory” memorandum. That document was all Gottlieb’s work.
To review the sergeant’s performance over some key dates of the investigation:
March 16, 2006: Gottlieb and Himan interviewed Crystal Mangum at her home; other officers showed her a photo array, using lacrosse players not named Matt, Adam, or Brett as fillers. Still another officer, R.A. Reid, photographed Mangum.
1.) Himan’s handwritten notes, produced on the spot and thus well before any indictments, had Mangum describing one attacker as a “white male, short, red cheeks fluffy hair chubby face, brn”; a second as “heavy set short haircut 260-270”; and the third as “chubby.” None of these descriptions even remotely resembled Collin Finnerty; and could have resembled Reade Seligmann only if Mangum had Seligmann weighing 50 pounds more than he did.
On the other hand, Gottlieb’s memorandum, produced well after indictments, recalled Mangum giving dead-on descriptions of the three accused players—descriptions that were very close to the three players’ profiles from the Duke lacrosse website.
2.) Himan’s notes made no mention of Mangum claiming the players robbed her—indeed, Mangum had consistently claimed in the initial days after the party that Kim Roberts had robbed her.
On the other hand, Gottlieb’s memorandum, produced well after indictments, recalled Mangum claiming that “after the men raped her, one of the men took her purse from her.”
3.) Himan’s notes portrayed Roberts as a conspirator in the rape, since Mangum “stated that Adam dragged her to the car and wiped her off with Nicki.”
On the other hand, Gottlieb’s memorandum, produced well after indictments and a time when Roberts was viewed as a fellow “victim,” made no mention of this claim. The sergeant did, however, recall Mangum denying that she had much to drink that evening, and claiming “I was screaming so loud” as she was choked during the “attack.” Himan’s contemporaneous notes had no such recollections. Gottlieb’s item, of course, was produced after Nifong had gone on national TV to demonstrate the chokehold.
4.) In the photos from this session, Officer Reid reported that Mangum had only a cut heel, a cut toe and bandages on both knees.
On the other hand, Gottlieb’s memorandum, produced well after indictments, claimed that “Reid stated she had the onset of new bruises present” on her face and neck.
March 23, 2006: The 46 white lacrosse players arrived at the Durham Police Department station for the photo and DNA session mandated by the non-testimonial order. Gottlieb told several players, by name, how different they looked from their Duke website photographs. In his deposition for the Bar, however, he claimed that he couldn’t recognize any of the players, except the captains, as of early April. And in his “straight-from-memory” memorandum, he made the almost comical assertion that he devoted himself on this day to ensuring that the players were comfortable and shielded from the media.
March 27, 2006: Gottlieb and Himan met with Nifong for the first time, to discuss the case. Though the inquiry was eleven days old, the police hadn’t checked into Mangum’s background, to see whether she had filed a rape claim previously. (They never would conduct such a check.) Nor had they taken an official statement from her. Nor had they asked her about the discrepancies between her claims and Kim Roberts’ official statement, which was given on March 22.
March 31, 2006: Gottlieb and Himan met with Nifong to set up the flawed April 4 lineup. According to Gottlieb’s memorandum, “Mr. Nifong suggested . . . we were under the impression the players at the party were members of the Duke Lacrosse Team.” Even though the police had learned on March 28 the names of the two non-lacrosse players at the party, Gottlieb didn’t inform the DA of this fact.
April 4, 2006: In violation of the DPD’s General Order 4077, Gottlieb, the officer supervising the investigation, ran the suspects-only lineup. Even though Mangum claimed that photos 4 and 5 both looked like one of her attackers, Gottlieb asked different follow-up questions regarding the two identifications. (The ID of Dave Evans received much more detailed questions.) Though he subsequently claimed that the session was intended only to have Mangum identify witnesses (or to determine if she was on ecstasy the night of the party), Gottlieb wrote that he taped the session so a “jury” could subsequently see it.
April 5, 2006: All officers involved the investigation met. According to Officer Soucie’s notes, they decided on items to be done before any arrests were made, including interviewing Devon Sherwood and interviewing Mangum’s two “drivers.” (No one in the DPD seems to have found it at all unusual than an unemployed woman without a college degree had two private drivers.) Despite the decision to do so, the police never interviewed Sherwood; their interviews with the “drivers” yielded material harmful to the case. Gottlieb’s memorandum contained no mention of this meeting, a remarkable omission given his ability to remember intricate details of an interview with Crystal Mangum that had occurred 20 days previously.
April 6, 2006: Mangum finally gave her official statement, in which she asserted (for the first time) that three other lacrosse players dragged Roberts away from the door at the start of the “attack.” Even though the official version now had Roberts as a witness to the start of the “crime,” Gottlieb made no effort to re-interview Roberts before seeking indictments.
Early April 2006: The DPD received the medical file from UNC, which recorded Mangum saying that she was “drunk” and “felt no pain” on the night of the “attack”—even though SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy had based much of her analysis on her belief that Mangum supposedly was in pain and was not drunk. Mangum also claimed to have been hit in the face and pushed backwards into the sink, on which she hit her head, details that didn’t appear in her March 14, March 16, or April 6 versions of events.
When asked about these discrepancies in his Bar deposition, which occurred in spring 2007, Gottlieb—astonishingly—replied, “This is not a report that I have had time to review.”
April 10, 2006: Gottlieb joined Nifong and Himan in the first meeting with Dr. Brian Meehan, in which Meehan told them that while no matches to the lacrosse players’ DNA existed, there were matches to unidentified males. With the exception of Mangum’s “boyfriend,” the DPD never learned the identity of these males.
April 17, 2006: Gottlieb testified before the grand jury that indicted Seligmann and Finnerty. In his Bar deposition, Gottlieb said that he told the grand jury that “as soon as Nurse Levicy was able to calm her down, which didn’t take long at all, she never changed her story from that point.”
In fact, as the chart below shows, Mangum told Durham law enforcement three stories in which she had different people doing different things to her; different numbers of people doing different things to her; and, actually, different things being done to her.
. . . . . . . . . . . Oral . . . . . Anal . . . . . . Vaginal . . . . . Married
Matt . . . . . . . .X . . . . . . . YZ . . . . . . . XZ . . . . . . . . X
Brett . . . . . . . . - . . . . . . .YZ . . . . . . . .YZ
Adam. . . . . . . XY . . . . . . .X . . . . . . . . .- . . . . . . . . . .Z
A green X corresponds to the story that Mangum told Tara Levicy on March 14, 2006; a blue Y corresponds to the story that Mangum told Gottlieb and Himan on March 16, 2006; a red Z corresponds to the story that Mangum provided in her April 6, 2006 official statement.
In making its indictments, therefore, the grand jury relied on Gottlieb’s false assertion that—despite transforming Kim Roberts from a criminal to a fellow victim, and despite alleging that different people did different things to her, and despite sometimes claiming to be drunk and sometimes not, and despite changing her mind on whether first-name aliases were used—Mangum “never changed her story” between the time she first encountered Tara Levicy to the time that Gottlieb spoke to the grand jury.
April 21, 2006: Gottlieb joined Nifong and Himan in their second meeting with Dr. Meehan, who told them that the DNA of Dave Evans—and two percent of the male population of the United States—couldn’t be excluded as among the mixture on Mangum’s false fingernails, which were found in Evans’ trashcan. In his Bar deposition, however, Gottlieb recalled Meehan stating that the odds of the fingernail DNA not being Dave Evans’ were “one in 900-some trillion.” He gave no evidence of having read the Meehan May 12 report, which would have cleared up his misconception.
April 27, 2006, 3.38pm and 3.54pm: According to Gottlieb’s sworn statement to the Bar, this 17-minute period represented the only time in the entire investigation in which he kept contemporaneous, handwritten notes. The item recorded: an unsuccessful search for labs that might test Mangum’s hair.
That’s the Gottlieb record in the case:
- Misrepresenting facts to the grand jury;
- Producing a “straight-from-memory” memorandum that appeared designed not to record the truth about the investigation but to fill holes in the prosecution’s case;
- Failing to investigate obvious items that might contradict one or all of Mangum’s stories;
- Violating standard police procedure in not keeping contemporaneous notes.
Sgt. Gottlieb remains on the beat in Durham. No record exists of any disciplinary action having been taken against him.