Thursday, May 31, 2007

Eugene Brown Speaks Out

Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown has released a comprehensive list of questions that would provide excellent guidance to any outside inquiry into the DPD.

As he notes, they all relate to an overarching theme: "Why did three Durham residents have to go to Raleigh and the Attorney General's office to get justice?"

Class & No Class

Reaction from opposing coaches to the NCAA’s decision to grant an additional year of eligibility to the non-freshmen on this year’s Duke lacrosse team ranged from classy to the reverse.

At one end of the spectrum was Cornell coach Jeff Tamboni, who told the Ithaca Journal that his initial response was “Wow.”

Reading between the lines, it was clear that Tamboni recognized that the decision would not make it easier for his team to win the national championship next year. But he was generous:

I'm happy for the kids. Obviously those guys went through a lot. It seems a lot of it was unfair in terms of the reactions that were made — the sanctions that were made. In a way you have to feel like they've been through so much, at least give them another opportunity to relive what they missed out on as juniors.

At the other extreme was Virginia coach Dom Starsia, who fumed, “Are we rewarding them for what happened?”

Rewarding? Perhaps Starsia should poll members of his squad, and ask if any of them would have liked to trade places with a Duke lacrosse player over the past 16 months.

Starsia noted, correctly, that the Duke administration hasn’t come to grips with its mishandling of affairs, and he noted that it didn’t seem as if “anyone is being held accountable for what happened here.”

Perhaps so. But is Duke’s unwillingness to engage in critical self-reflection justification for the NCAA not to grant the waiver?

Finally, Tony McDevitt speaks about the issue, here.

Defending the Durham Status Quo

Last November, Durham’s black voters gave Mike Nifong around 95 percent of their votes. In recent weeks, however, the actions of Mayor Bill Bell, in particular, have made clear that the district attorney now enjoys scant support from the city’s African-American community. Bell also has made clear that he wants to see the truth about the police investigation’s errors.

It’s worth remembering, however, that the disgraced Durham district attorney is not still in office because of the black vote alone. Nifong also received robust backing from Durham’s far left—politically through the People’s Alliance, journalistically through Indy. And while neither the People’s Alliance nor Indy are any longer defending their onetime hero, they—quite unlike Durham’s key African-American leaders—still seem to see little wrong with the case that so tarnished their city.

Take the case of Diane Catotti, one of two People’s Alliance members who currently serves on the City Council; and the only Council member to have been endorsed by the Triangle branch of the Green Party. The P.A. and the Greens both fashion themselves as good-government organizations interested in reform; the P.A.’s website even sports an “activist calendar.”

Yet regarding possible police misconduct, no group has more aggressively defended the status quo than the P.A. Catotti seemed to have no problem with allowing the Baker/Chalmers report to stand as the final word on how the police supported indictments of three demonstrably innocent people without probable cause.

At the City Council meeting a week ago Monday, Catotti raised a host of objections to an outside review. Mayor Bell’s proposal, she complained, was too nebulous. It might cost too much. She would need more information before forming an opinion on the plan.

She also vigorously opposed calls for Mike Nifong’s resignation: “The district attorney is obviously an elected office and whatever our personal or professional opinions are, I don’t believe it’s our role to call for his resignation.”

Between last Monday and last Thursday, it became clear that the investigation would be a serious one, overseen by a group of police chiefs from around the state. That, apparently, was all Catotti needed to know: she was the only member of the Council to vote against authorizing an investigation.

Her rationale was extraordinary. The Council’s proposal would allow chiefs of what she termed “competing” and “rival” cities to examine how Durham performed. Most people would not consider a neighboring towns police department to be “competing” with the hometowns law enforcement agencies—both, presumably, have the same basic goals.

City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers, she implied, should be allowed to pick who they wanted to investigate them. Somehow, I doubt that an investigation of the DPD conducted by people who would fit Catotti’s specifications—basically Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and the Group of 88—would have much credibility.

Imagine if the situation were the reverse: a race-baiting DA, aided and abetted by a police force that routinely violated its own procedures, orchestrated the indictments, without probable cause, of three poor, black women. Does anyone believe that Catotti, as the representative of a so-called “progressive” organization, would denounce an outside inquiry on the grounds that it would allow “rival” cities to look into how the DPD performed?

Mayor Bell, appropriately, dismissed Catotti’s reasoning. “It’s almost like we’re trying to save the manager or the police chief,” he noted. “I’m not trying to do that. I want the truth.”


The P.A.’s de facto media arm, The Independent Weekly, last week published a criticism of “Durham justice,” which led off with the following: “Reade Seligmann, meet Erick Daniels. He’s what happens to people without money when they’re railroaded by Durham police and the Durham district attorney’s office.”

Daniels spent more than five years in jail after being arrested based on a flawed ID, conflicting police reports, and an investigation that didn’t look into exculpatory evidence.

A reader of Indy editor Richard Hart’s column might have believed that Indy had been at the forefront of demanding due process and procedural regularity for all in Durham.

Not exactly. The paper endorsed the election campaign of the figure who personified “Durham justice,” Mike Nifong. The D.A., the paper proclaimed, “has approached his job in a hardworking and professional manner,” as “colleagues and legal opponents alike laud his sense of fairness and justice.” Those who wanted to make the election about a single case were wrong-headed, since Nifong “manages a supportive work environment where attorneys against the death penalty aren’t forced to try capital murder cases.”

In June, Indy ran a column by Hal Crowther ridiculing the (relatively few people, at that time) who had criticized Nifong’s behavior. “To imply that rich white athletes are unsafe in the North Carolina legal system,” Crowther fumed, “is like saying the Pope can’t get a fair trial in Vatican City.” The State Bar and the attorney general, it seems, came to disagree with Crowther’s analysis.

Crowther noted that while he had been in a fraternity, “I surely don’t remember raping anyone, or seeing it done, or hearing of it.” (So much for not rushing to judgment.) He did fear the prospect of “the best lawyers money can buy win[ning] them a reprieve they may or may not deserve.” And for those who were inclined to believe the players’ claims of innocence (claims which, by that point, were fortified by Reade Seligmann’s highly publicized alibi and the fact that no DNA matched any of the accused players), Crowther had some advice: “Catch a glimpse of your inner racist in the mirror.”

Two weeks after Roy Cooper dismissed all charges and declared the players innocent, Hart praised Crowther’s column for its revealing the “fundamental problems” of “student arrogance and exaltation of sports.” Hart also celebrated the work of the Group of 88 and hailed Crystal Mangum: “Though there’s no evidence of rape, she’s still a victim.” Such thinking would make most in the Group of 88 proud.

So, it seems, Indy doesn’t exactly have a track record of opposing prosecutorial misconduct; or of questioning the DPD’s actions when the police force breaks the rules to try and railroad innocent people.


The People’s Alliance, Diane Catotti, and Independent Weekly: from Nifong enablers to the last people inclined to look the other way at the DPD’s misconduct. Quite a record upon which the Triangle’s far left can stand.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NCAA Grants Waiver

Perhaps the outcome of Monday’s NCAA final against Johns Hopkins didn’t provide for a feel-good ending to the 2007 lacrosse season. But the NCAA has just come down with a decision that provides some compensation.

The AP’s Aaron Beard and Inside Lacrosse are both reporting that the NCAA has granted Duke’s appeal to reinstate the year of eligibility lost when the 2006 season was canceled; the story is now up on the Fox News wire as well. The waiver allows the players a fifth year of eligibility whether they stay at Duke or attend another school’s graduate program.

The NCAA press release: “These individuals were involved in an unusual circumstance that we believe warrants providing them the opportunity to complete their four years of competition.”

For an organization often criticized for putting the interests of student-athletes last, it’s encouraging to see the NCAA do the right thing in this instance.

A Blow to Hodge

The non-credible foundation of the Baker/Chalmers report—that the April 4 ID session wasn’t a “lineup” but rather a search for witnesses, even though it, unlike previous lineups, was taped, and even though it didn’t include three non-suspects the police knew were at the party, and even though the police already had a witness list of people at the party—continues to crumble.

This morning’s Herald-Sun reports that Sgt. Mark Gottlieb reported that the April 4 lineup was constructed to with an eye toward how it would be viewed by potential jurors, defense attorneys, prosecutors and other judicial officials.” Why any of these people would have been interested in a lineup designed to obtain “witnesses” Gottlieb didn’t say.

The H-S’ Ray Gronberg dryly noted,

City Manager Patrick Baker said Tuesday he didn’t know[!] why Gottlieb’s report alluded to recording the session for potential jurors and court officials.

In the Police Department’s eyes, “that was not a lineup,” Police Chief Steve Chalmers said previously, echoing the explanation he and Baker adopted in a May 11 report on how authorities handled the investigation.
There is one other important item in today’s story: at a meeting demanded by Baker sometime last spring, Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge—one of the three finalists to replace Chalmers—joined Chalmers and Mike Nifong in justifying the decision to bypass Police Department procedures in the lineup.

[Update, 12.52pm: Today's N&O, meanwhile, reveals other concerns with the Hodge candidacy.]

How, then, is it possible Hodge could be considered as the next leader of the department?

Lacrosse Ad

Page 5a in USA Today has a full-page ad paying tribute to the members of the 2007 men's lacrosse squad for their accomplishments on and off the field. The ad was purchased by Duke graduate (class of 1957) Bob Pascal and his family.

Click below for a larger version of the upper two-thirds of the ad.

Free Image Hosting at

Hat tip: H.T.

Group Profile: The Deutsch Files

My Cliopatria colleague Ralph Luker recently attended an academic conference at Duke, where he encountered Group of 88 member Sally Deutsch. Luker recalled that Deutsch

seemed to think that I should know better than to be found blogging with KC Johnson. She bristled noticeably when I said that, after all, he’d turned out to be correct about the lacrosse case. “You mean about the charges being dropped?,” she asked. I started to say: “No. Read my lips: ‘There was no rape.'" But the hairs were already standing up from the back of her neck up over to her eyebrows and her eyes were flashing. It’s a good thing that KC and I are not looking for a job at Duke. Professor Deutsch has just moved from chairing Duke’s history department to dean of [social sciences of] the college of arts and sciences.

For the record, as Ralph pointed out, neither he nor I are seeking employment at Duke.

Some members of the Group of 88, of course, fit the caricature of faculty extremists. Take, for instance, Grant Farred, who has ridiculously asserted that by loud partying that bothered their predominantly white, upper-class neighbors in Trinity Park, “at the heart of the lacrosse team’s behavior is the racist history of the South.” Or the statement’s principal author, Wahneema Lubiano, whose “books” appear to be in the perpetually “forthcoming” mode and whose prose is virtually impenetrable, except when she reports that she will press ahead “regardless of the 'truth’.”

Deutsch, on the other hand, casts a more moderate persona. She has published two well-reviewed books with a prestigious press (Oxford). She isn’t inclined to intemperate public statements of the type we have seen from Farred or Lubiano. She has had fellowships at mainstream entities, such as Harvard’s Charles Warren Center; the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.; and the Huntington Library. And, as Ralph pointed out, Deutsch is a figure of considerable influence at Duke—dean of the social sciences within Trinity College.

Deutsch’s affiliation with the intellectual mainstream only goes so far, however. Given her status as both a Group of 88 member and a signatory to the clarifying faculty statement, it should come as little surprise that Deutsch adheres to the race/class/gender worldview so pervasive among Duke’s arts and sciences faculty. A member of Duke’s “Working Group in Feminism and History,” she describes her research interests as “the United States from 1870 to 1940, focusing on issues of [naturally] class, race, gender, and ethnic differences.”

Ralph, for understandable reasons, was taken aback that a figure such as Deutsch—someone who doesn’t cut an extremist profile—could appear unwilling, even at this late stage, to admit the obvious: that no rape occurred. Those who recalled her activities last spring, however, might have been less surprised.

Unlike some members of the Group of 88—Lubiano again comes to mind—Deutsch had actually taught lacrosse players. In fact, last spring, several lacrosse players were in her class. The week after Mike Nifong began his pre-primary publicity barrage, Deutsch deviated from the syllabus and announced that she would use class time to discuss how white men, especially in the South, had disrespected and sexually assaulted black females.

“We all knew what she was doing,” one lacrosse player later recalled. “A couple people asked questions to try to get her off track, but she persisted. It lasted a half hour. She clearly wasn’t sympathetic.” After the class, several non-lacrosse players came up to team members and told them how inappropriate they had considered Deutsch’s behavior.

I contacted Deutsch several weeks ago to ask whether, in fact, she had taken such an approach. She said that she had—but didn’t see anything wrong with her behavior. She asserted that because her course spent “extensive time on [naturally] race and gender relations,” it was appropriate for her to use class time to contextualize the incident, thereby helping to “explain why people were so upset.”

At that point, of course, the only information about the incident was supplied by Mike Nifong and his underlings, such as Cpl. David Addison. Deutsch does not appear to have considered whether it was appropriate for a college professor to accept Nifong’s word so uncritically that she would deviate from the scheduled topic of the lecture and instead conduct a guilt-presuming discussion of the case in her class, especially since several of the affected students were at the receiving end of her lecture.

Indeed, the type of background she elected to explore reflected a presumption that a crime occurred. When asked whether she had also had adjusted her planned topics to examine the case through the equally relevant historical legacy of race-based prosecutorial misconduct in the South, Deutsch did not reply.

Despite Deutsch’s claims, the course that she taught was not described as focusing exclusively on issue of race and gender, calling into further question her decision to deviate from the syllabus. The course, instead, was a survey: U.S. history from 1870 to 1914. Here is the course description from the Arts&Sciences Course Bulletin (which is, for the record, considered a contract between a student and the University):

Industrialization, immigration, westward migration, and increased United States involvement in world political and economic affairs. The resulting political upheavals and the efforts of various groups to promote, control, or alter change. Not open to students who took History 129B.

For a professor intent on providing context to the charges, nothing in that description would have suggested ignoring the long Southern tradition of race-based prosecutorial misconduct, and instead choosing to focus on a context identical to that offered at the time by Mike Nifong.

At the end of the semester, another surprise greeted the players in the class: each noticed that their marks were one- or two-thirds of a grade lower than they had expected, apparently due to the subjective “participation” component of the grading.

That a figure such as Deutsch still seems unwilling to admit that no rape occurred is not surprising. That, however, she could—months after the fact—continue to justify her decision to use class time to effectively present Nifong’s preferred foundation of the case against the players is depressing. It’s no wonder that the Duke administration never investigated allegations last spring of improper behavior by professors toward lacrosse players.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Seligmann to Brown

Reade Seligmann has decided to attend Brown University, beginning in fall 2007.

“I am excited and proud, he said today, “to be attending Brown University. I hope to make them proud of accepting me as a student. I am looking forward to just being a student again.

He also spoke to his teammates and coaches at Duke: I appreciate the support and loyalty of my teammates and coaches at Duke. I will miss them. I know that they will understand why I cannot return to Duke. I have been proud to be a part of their team and I am grateful for the support they have given to me over the past year.

Standing Out

This case is a reminder about the dangers of overgeneralization. “The mainstream media is all bad.” Can anyone equate how Joe Neff covered the case with Duff Wilson’s approach? “Civil rights leaders abandoned their principles.” Can anyone equate Jim Coleman’s response with that of Irving Joyner? “TV covered the case in a shallow fashion.” Can anyone equate 60 Minutes with Nancy Grace?

A similar need for specific analysis occurs in dealing with sports journalists. John Feinstein, Mike Wise, and Mark Purdy have been embarrassing in their work. Yet Aaron Beard covered not only the sports angle of the case exceedingly well, but also was the lead reporter for AP’s solid coverage. And Jason Whitlock was one of the first journalists—of any specialty—to identify the correct storyline for the case.

A sensational column by Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel should be added to the work of Beard and Whitlock. In a week when so many sports reporters seemed to be writing the exact same story (the party was bad, the players aren’t choirboys), Wetzel produced a column that stood out, by introducing readers to an aspect of the players’ personal experience over the past 15 months that has received almost no attention from the national media.

His thesis? “This was a team, in many ways, without a school because it was a school, in many ways, that didn’t want a team. Some faculty members still don’t want it, no matter the dropped charges, the exposed lies and the track record of model behavior since.”

Co-captain Matt Danowski offered one of the most perceptive comments I’ve seen on the situation that the players faced:

We weren’t winning for Duke itself. We weren’t winning for the faculty. We weren’t winning for the students. We were winning for ourselves. It sounds cliché, but at one point all we had was 41 guys and our family. We didn’t have student support. We didn’t have faculty support. It was really just about us.

Danowski’s father, head coach John Danowski, analyzed the faculty’s responses to the allegations last spring: “It was an opportunity for people to move their agendas along. That’s the world. The world is about politics. It’s not about right and wrong or truth.”

As Wetzel noted, “There have been few apologies, fewer retractions. Not from fellow students, not from professors, not from administrators.” To my knowledge, a total of two Duke professors have apologized for their response to the case—Arlie Petters for signing the Group of 88’s statement, Thomas Crowley for submitting an inaccurate op-ed to the Herald-Sun.

Two other Group members privately apologized to lacrosse players, only to, incredibly, retract their apologies by signing the “clarifying” statement, which asserted that the signatories would not apologize for signing the Group of 88 ad. No other Group member has apologized—and many have said they’d do it all over again. The only apology from an administrator came after John Burness’ ill-founded attack on the players’ character on the eve of the innocent proclamation.

In the end, Wetzel (who actually talked to coaches and players on the team, unlike Wise, Feinstein, or Purdy) found out that the players, mostly

just wanted to be a team, even if some players no longer trusted, loved or had pride in the school on the front of their jerseys.

So here on a warm day in Maryland, in front of a record crowd of 48,443 and a national television audience, they were just that—a team trying to be the best team in all the land.

Despite a furious (what else?) comeback, it didn’t happen. A group of men who attend the same school lost a lacrosse game here Monday.

That school had lost a lot more than that a long time ago.

Most people, I think, retain a type of “Mr. Chips” attitude toward the professoriate—that perhaps we’re eccentric, maybe a little bit out of touch, but that we chose our profession because we like working with students. No one who reads Wetzel’s article can conclude that the professors he quoted have such a mission.

Wiser Still

Mike Wise is back with another column in this morning’s Washington Post, this one criticizing the Duke lacrosse team for distracting media attention from Johns Hopkins. “Duke,” Wise complained, “received more attention for what was wrong with lacrosse in the past year than all the things that have been right with the sport at a place like Hopkins since 1883.”

Mike Wise is a sportswriter at the Washington Post, just down the road from Johns Hopkins’ campus in Baltimore. According to a Lexis/Nexis search, Wise wrote zero articles about Johns Hopkins lacrosse in 2004.

He wrote zero articles about Johns Hopkins lacrosse in 2005.

He wrote zero articles about Johns Hopkins lacrosse in 2006.

Until last Friday, he had written zero articles about Johns Hopkins lacrosse in 2007.

And Wise is blaming the Duke lacrosse team for the failure of the sports media—of which, of course, he is a part—to write articles about Johns Hopkins lacrosse.

Wise additionally quoted Johns Hopkins captain Jake Byrne, who remarked that the Duke situation “brought us negativity and didn’t make people in the sport out to be the right kind of people.” Neither Wise nor Bryne explained what “the right kind of people” were, nor did they--appropriately--generalize to an entire program the mistakes of one or two players, even when those mistakes are far more serious than anything done by a player at Duke.

More Sports Reporters

In a thrilling championship game yesterday, the Duke men’s lacrosse team fell just short of a national title, losing to Johns Hopkins, 12-11. The performance in the NCAA tournament brought the team back into the national spotlight, although this time for its athletic accomplishments, and so it tended to be covered exclusively by sports reporters.

Some of this coverage was first-rate:

  • The AP’s Aaron Beard continued his extraordinary work on the case in general, with daily updates from Baltimore, including exclusive interviews with Mike Pressler and Rae Evans.
  • cnnsi’s Kevin Armstrong went off the beaten path in pieces about Kerstin Kimel and the Chaminade-Delbarton game.

But the last few days featured embarrassingly poor pieces by sports columnists in major newspapers: the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the San Jose Mercury News.


In a column Friday, the Post’s Mike Wise complained about people who wore “INNOCENT” wristbands—overlooking, apparently, the fact that the Attorney General said the three accused players were innocent. And, he fumed, “This isn’t ‘To Kill a Mockingbird II.’” The reasons that he gave to sustain his viewpoint, alas, did not correspond to the plot of the book.

When a DIW reader wrote to Wise to point out his biases, the sports reporter was not amused. He ridiculed those who claim that “nothing bad went down that night, that these were just three random guys picked off the street.”

To that argument, Wise had an articulate response: “Uh, no.”

Does Wise have a theory he’d like to share with Post readers to show as to how Crystal Mangum’s selections were not random? If so, he should publish it—since such a column would be an important journalistic advancement in the case. Does Wise have evidence that something “bad went down that night”? Again, if so, he should publish it— since such a column would be an important journalistic advancement in the case.

It appears, however, that Wise prefers to deal in rumor and innuendo to justify his attacks on those who wore wristbands proclaiming that three innocent people were, in fact, innocent.


At the Chicago Tribune, Olympic sports reporter Philip Hersh confided, “The idea that the Duke lacrosse team’s success is a feel-good story makes me ill.”

The “team,” he stated, was guilty of “outrageous behavior, even if that behavior did not include the sexual assault three Duke players had been charged with committing.” And what, exactly, was this “outrageous behavior”? A spring break party “at which alcohol was served to minors.” (Hersh makes it seem like the lacrosse players were handing out vodka to 10-year-olds; how many other journalists refer to 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds as “minors”?) The players “hired exotic dancers” for this spring break party. (College students partaking of sexually raunchy entertainment over spring break: who has ever heard of such a thing?!) The McFadyen e-mail. (Hersh claims that McFadyen was expelled, and seems not to know that the e-mail played off a book assigned in no fewer than three Duke courses.) The fact that “some players allegedly yelled racial insults at the women.” (That one player yelled a racist insult to one woman after that woman yelled a racist taunt to him appears not to have crossed Hersh’s radar screen.)

In other words, much like the Group of 88, for Hersh the world appears to have stopped on or about April 6, 2006, with no facts that emerged after that point in any way affecting his interpretation of events. No wonder he’s ill.


Then there’s Mark Purdy from the Mercury News—generally considered a first-rate paper. Purdy complained that “the exonerated Duke lacrosse players (supported by many of their fellow athletes at the school) said . . . that they felt aggrieved and targeted when they hadn’t done anything to deserve scorn.”

One of the exonerated players—Dave Evans—joined his fellow captains in apologizing publicly on March 28, 2006. He repeated that apology in an October interview with Ed Bradley. Did Purdy know of Evans’ apologies? And a Lexis/Nexis search reveals no quotes from Evans, Collin Finnerty, or Reade Seligmann saying anything remotely resembling an assertion that “they hadn’t done anything to deserve scorn.”

The implication of Purdy’s comments appeared to be that the three accused players had done something to “deserve scorn.” Seligmann and Finnerty attended a party they played no role in organizing, perhaps drank some beer, and left quickly after the party became uncomfortable. Is that, according to Purdy, behavior worthy of scorn?

In evaluating the three players’ character, Purdy cited “my colleague, author John Feinstein, a Duke alum and one of our country’s estimable journalists.” (The last I looked, Feinstein didn’t work for the Mercury News, so it is unclear in what way he is Purdy’s “colleague.”) And what aspect of Feinstein’s argument did Purdy find particularly appealing? That Feinstein “expressed his disgust that the players were portraying themselves as martyrs and said, 'I think they’re guilty of everything but rape.’”

Again, a Lexis/Nexis search reveals no quotes from Evans, Seligmann, or Finnerty in which they described themselves as “martyrs.” And does Purdy—like Feinstein, a man who makes his living by being precise in the language that he chooses—believe that the three players are guilty of sexual assault and kidnapping, which surely would come under the heading of “everything but rape”? [emphasis in original]

Does Purdy endorse the March 2006 argument of “one of our country’s estimable journalists” that Duke should have terminated the scholarships of any lacrosse player who did not immediately agree to speak with Sgt. Mark Gottlieb outside the presence of counsel?

And, I wonder, exactly what evidence does Purdy possess to prove his claim that Reade Seligmann was guilty of “everything but rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping”?

I e-mailed Purdy to ask him the questions above; he did not reply. Perhaps, like Hersh, he was ill.


What, exactly, would Mike Wise say to Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann if he had the chance to address them personally? “Your [sic] guilty by association of bad judgment and real stupid, insensitive behavior. At the least.”

Wise might want to take a look at the work of Jason Whitlock, who writes for the Kansas City Star. Whitlock was right on this case from the start: on May 4, 2006, he joined Stuart Taylor as the first two significant figures in the media to question Mike Nifong’s case--in a stunningly prescient article that referenced none other than To Kill A Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, a character with which Wise appears to be unfamiliar.

As Whitlock concluded in today’s Star,

The Blue Devils are to be congratulated for surviving the past year and advancing all the way to the NCAA title game. The Duke lacrosse program and its players were demonized by overzealous media representatives, academics who hate jocks and racial opportunists. Typical, irresponsible college behavior (underage drinking) was used as an excuse to paint the Duke players as potential skinheads.

Their 2006 season was stolen. Three Duke players faced criminal charges for a year. Many students and faculty member on their own campus turned on them and staged protests. The Blue Devils, 17-3, not only survived, but they thrived. They didn’t wallow in victimhood. They took the field and went about the job of debunking their critics.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Unsung Heroes

This afternoon, at 1pm, Duke’s men’s lacrosse team will take the field to battle Johns Hopkins for the national championship. Today’s post looks at four of the unsung heroes of this year’s squad, not for what they’ve done on the field, but for how they’ve handled themselves over the past 15 months.


Junior Bo Carrington (#31) is an ACC Academic Honor Roll Selection; those who watch today’s game won’t have any trouble picking out the midfielder, since he’s one of the two tallest players on the team.

Being recognizable had its drawbacks last spring. In late March 2006, Carrington was surrounded by a group of African-American students while walking across the quad in the middle of Duke’s West Campus. “You know what happened that night!” shouted one member of the crowd. “Why aren’t you saying anything?” As the crowd dispersed, a fellow student in one of Carrington’s classes came running up and asked: “Bo, why don’t you tell me what you know?”

But nobody wanted to hear what Carrington knew: the rape charge was a lie. Yet he kept his patience and didn’t lash out.

No one who knew Carrington—a quiet, deeply religious student—would have anticipated him responding in any other way. He behaved in a similarly professional manner with his professors. The day after the first two indictments, he talked over things with his Spanish instructor, a graduate student. She started out very hostile, saying that she lived in the Trinity Park neighborhood and feared that Duke students were committing rapes there. Then Carrington mentioned that Reade Seligmann was one of the two students indicted. The instructor had taught Seligmann in a course the previous semester. “All of a sudden,” Carrington later recalled, “she went from an accusatory position to being so sad that Reade was being caught up in a big lie. She started talking about how sad it was that Reade’s picture was all over the news. She knew Reade and therefore knew he was innocent. That’s all it took, knowing Reade, Collin, or Dave.”

During the fall, the campus was energized by the efforts of Duke Students for an Ethical Durham, which sought to register Duke students to vote in Durham in time for the November election. Their lawyers had counseled the lacrosse players not to participate in the effort, lest Nifong exploit any photographs of them handing out voter registration sheets. But DSED leaders needed help—and Carrington knew that assisting them was the right thing to do. So, he noted later, he “just said screw it and started to work.” More and more players joined him.

Carrington was present at the critical December 15 hearing, as well—in the front row of the jury box, almost directly in Mike Nifong’s line of sight. (Nifong didn’t look at him once in the nearly two-hour hearing.) “It was,” he observed, “a redemptive feeling as Meehan testified and everyone saw what Nifong had done.”


Yesterday, senior Tony McDevitt (#44) was named a third-team All-American defenseman; he also was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award, given to a senior lacrosse student-athlete “who excels both on and off the playing field.”

When the players returned to campus this fall, McDevitt supplied critical senior leadership as more players became involved with the DSED registration effort. He later explained that “registering voters and working in the campaign were the only tangible things we could do for our teammates.” Following the lead of Carrington and McDevitt, the entire team was helping the DSED effort by the end of September. They decided on a major push outside Duke’s football stadium during the September 30 homecoming game.

McDevitt coordinated the effort, making up t-shirts with the (magic marker) slogan “Voice Your Choice” on the front. He bought 50 clipboards and distributed them to every member of the team, along with 30 or so registration forms apiece. The players had a “coaching” session on how to register people—what to say, what not to say, and how to answer common questions. To avoid unnecessary double registrations, McDevitt obtained a list of already-registered students from the county board of elections. Hoping for every member of the team to register at least 15 voters, the players assembled in groups of five at 11am to head out to the stadium parking lot. But, in one of the more controversial aspects of Duke’s behavior, a Duke security officer—later joined by an assistant athletic director—came up and ordered them to stop.

McDevitt pointed out the non-partisan nature of the effort, but behaved with grace, lest he give the Brodhead administration further reason to attack the lacrosse players—even though, as he knew and as Duke officials would later acknowledge privately, the security officer and athletic administrator were in the wrong. He helped organize another voter registration effort, came to the October 27 hearing to show support for the three players, and worked the polls on Election Day.


Sophomore Michael Catalino (#29) joined Carrington as an ACC Academic Honor Roll selection. He noticed the different atmosphere on campus this past fall—“Students that I didn’t know went out of their way to show their support; it seemed like everyone on campus was 100 percent behind us. I also felt safer on campus—I didn’t have to hide who I was.”

Catalino thrived in the new campus environment. In September, a donor who wanted to give $6000 to the legal defense fund purchased 6000 “Innocent” wristbands. Catalino’s mother, Gail, decided that her son would be the person to distribute the wristbands. Between late September and the end of the case, he gave out more than 5000 of them—keeping the accused students’ effort visible, while infuriating some Group of 88 members at the same time.

Catalino had hip surgery last fall, but even though Election Day 2006 was chilly and rainy, he spent the day campaigning for the Recall Nifong effort. He taped Cheek signs to both of his crutches, wore a Cheek T-shirt, and stood in the rain at the bus stop where Duke students could catch a shuttle to their polling place, waiving the crutches to students, urging them to vote.

Five weeks later, he knew that he probably should have been studying for a 7pm final, but he wanted to show support for the three accused players, especially the two that he knew best (Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty), by attending the December 15 hearing. “I knew it could have been me,” he recalled, “and if it had been, I would have wanted my teammates there to show support.”


Junior Rob Wellington (#48) is, like Carrington and Catalino, an ACC Academic Honor Roll selection. He is also one of the most courageous people in the entire case.

After the two initial indictments—when the risk of being the third player targeted by Nifong hung over all other 44 players on the team—Wellington swore out an affidavit (p. 22) confirming that he was with Reade Seligmann throughout the period of the alleged crime. He did so before Seligmann produced electronic confirmation of the affidavit, such as cellphone records and an ATM videotape.

Wellington also acted before the procedurally flawed April 4 lineup was made public. He had no way of knowing whether or not he was one of the people chosen in Crystal Mangum’s game of “Russian Roulette.” He told the truth, in public, even though he knew that by doing so—by saying he was with Seligmann every second from 12.14am through 12.46am—he was risking Nifong turning the power of the district attorney’s office on him.

In the fall, Wellington joined Carrington, Catalino, and McDevitt as among the most active players in the election campaign. On Election Night, he was with Carrington, Catalino, and some other DSED activists at the Durham courthouse, awaiting the outcome. When the results came in and showed a narrow Nifong victory, the district attorney’s supporters taunted the trio. “Hope you lacrosse players get what you deserve,” said Harris Johnson. An assistant district attorney wandered over and laughed at how the “poor little Duke kids didn’t get your way.”


Carrington, Catalino, McDevitt, and Wellington also did lots of things behind the scenes, when no one was noticing, just because they were the right things to do. The four players went out of their way to stay in touch especially with Seligmann and Finnerty—making sure the two players still felt part of the team, and knew that people on the Duke campus were thinking of them.

To quote Friends of Duke’s Jason Trumpbour: “It is worth noting that, to date, the players are the only actors in the entire saga who have expressed any genuine regret for inappropriate behavior on their part and who have been willing to examine themselves with an eye toward improvement. They are better people for this experience and will use what they have learned to make a difference in the world. Who else in all this can say that?” That comment certainly applies to Carrington, Catalino, McDevitt, and Wellington.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Unfortunate ESPN Comment

This evening on ESPN's Sports Center, anchor Neil Everett introduced a story by mentioning the scandal and then stating "the allegations were never proven."

Never proven? I believe the word that AG Cooper used was "innocent"--an all-but-unprecedented declaration--as part of a general statement that no evidence existed to substantiate the charges.

This is the network broadcasting tomorrow's final. Is it unreasonable to expect an accurate portrayal of the case?

Beard on Danowski

John Danowski is in an unprecedented position. Though on the eve of a national championship, the Duke squad is in many ways not “his” team—he recruited none of the players; his predecessor, Mike Pressler, was unfairly fired and retained the team’s loyalty; and the players themselves had been abandoned by their administration and vilified by many of their professors.

No one who has watched Danowski’s dealings with the press over the past several days could not have been impressed with how he has handled the situation.

Rather than minimize Pressler’s role on the team, he has celebrated it—even terming himself a “caretaker.” Aaron Beard’s daily story from the Final Four notes that Danowski invited Pressler to address the team, while minimizing his own success: “I felt this was a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to do some good.”

His opposing coach in tomorrow’s championship game, Dave Pietramala, has high praise indeed:

I think he was the perfect guy for that job. John Danowski has something that no other human being as a coach could bring to that team, and that's a firsthand understanding of what those young men have been through. He knows those kids. They know him, too.
You can read Beard’s full article here.

Trustees, Dartmouth, and the AP

The Duke case has provided a good example of how Boards of Trustees, by taking an excessively passive approach to their oversight role, can cause significant harm to an institution.

But Duke is hardly alone. The Dartmouth administration also made a name for itself by supporting a combination of political correctness and hostility to athletics that would make Orin Starn proud. Unlike Duke, Dartmouth allows alumni to elect some of its trustees, and in the past three years, four insurgent candidates have been elected. All four have called for:

  • an increased emphasis on athletics;
  • abolishing speech codes;
  • returning the college to a platform of research and teaching excellence.

One of the trustees, Todd Zywicki, lamented that "Dartmouth has drifted from its core mission in recent years,” often by diverting funds to "programs of questionable educational value.” He also celebrated the intricate link between teaching and research.

In short, the insurgent Dartmouth trustees could be called the anti-Group of 88.

As the insurgents have prevailed, Dartmouth has kept changing the rules to make it harder for candidates not approved by the administration to prevail; yet last week, the latest insurgent, University of Virginia law professor Stephen Smith, won.

Here is how an astonishingly slanted AP article covered Smith’s triumph:

  • It suggested that while Dartmouth had in recent years tried to “make the campus more welcoming to women, minorities and scholars,” Smith “appreciated the old Dartmouth,” characterized by “rowdy fraternities—such as the one that inspired the movie ‘Animal House.’” Yet nothing in Smith's platform suggests that such a description is accurate.
  • It contended that Smith opposed “codes regulating hate speech,” even though, as any glance through the annals of FIRE would reveal, these codes have a chilling effect on all speech.
  • It implied that Smith, who is African-American and attended Dartmouth, opposed the “cultural shifts at campuses that were previously all-male and nearly all-white.”
  • It reported that defenders of the administration “said Smith was not forthcoming about his conservative background, including a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.” (In fact, Smith’s website says, “After law school, I worked for two federal judges. The first was Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The second was Justice Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court of the United States.”)
  • It claimed that Smith’s opponents embraced “mainstream” ideas.

The article then closed with a quote not from the victorious candidate but from Dartmouth president James Wright, who remarked, “For those people who don't like goals that include diversity, that don't include faculty doing scholarship, I'm sorry, but I think those are the best traditions of Dartmouth.”

The AP coverage of the lacrosse case, coordinated by Aaron Beard, has been among the best. And in general, the AP’s stories are characterized by a no-nonsense, facts-only approach. The CNN website doesn’t identify the author of the AP piece on Dartmouth, but that such a biased story would come from the AP is disturbing.

Sunday Review

Mike Nifong’s chief investigator Linwood Wilson was much in the news last week, after a court hearing in an unrelated case revealed that his penchant for intimidating witnesses extended beyond the lacrosse case.

Several weeks ago, Joe Neff broke the news that Wilson received a 66% raise and a promotion (from coordinator of the DA office’s worthless checks program to the office’s investigator) in the middle of the lacrosse case. It remains unclear what Wilson did to merit this promotion.

A reader also reminded me of the Herald-Sun article announcing Wilson’s hiring, dated January 2, 2006. The article opened with the distinctive prose of John Stevenson: When it comes to collecting worthless checks, the Durham District Attorney's Office has just been reinforced by a bass voice of CD quality, over 6 feet of height and more than 200 pounds of weight.

In a preview of the boorish attitude he would frequently display during the case, Wilson explained why he took the job: “My wife told me I had to get work. If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” Wilson didn’t reveal that he had left his previous employment as a P.I. amidst ethics charges, and that, in a 16-year career as a P.I., Wilson faced what the N&O described as “repeated complaints and at least seven formal inquiries into his conduct.”

Quite interesting, in light of events to come, was Nifong’s description of one reason why he hired Wilson: “He’s big and he can be intimidating if he wants to be.”



The legislative fallout from the Nifong scandal continues; last week, the state Senate narrowly approved a bill to make district attorney elections non-partisan. Had this system existed in 2006, Mike Nifong almost certainly would have lost: the Republican voters ineligible to vote in the Democratic primary could have cast ballots for Freda Black—who, it’s worth remembering, lost by less than 1000 votes.

The bill—which still needs House approval and support from Governor Mike Easley—was sponsored by Senator Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg). Clodfelter, a former Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate, also has introduced measures to broaden the open discovery statute to close the loopholes exploited by Nifong in the lacrosse case.


The state’s district attorneys didn’t take a position on Clodfelter’s election bill, but they did vigorously resist his attempts to expand the open discovery statute. Indeed, their goal is the reverse—to make changes in the law that would seem to allow future Mike Nifongs greater leeway.

The Hendersonville Times-News joined the chorus of the state’s editorial boards in opposing the efforts of the Conference of DA’s “to gut the law,” since “as the recent outcome of the Duke rape case shows, that is hardly the direction the state needs to move.”

The DA conference’s efforts also produced a poignant letter to the N&O from Duffy Lincoln, who wrote, “The new discovery law was passed after many convictions were overturned because several DAs were caught lying. This law helped my sister, who although innocent spent five years arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Because the prosecutors were required by law to disclose everything they knew to the defense, my sister’s attorneys were able to adequately defend her. They discovered an SBI DNA lab error, and the DA dropped the pursuit of the death penalty . . . My sister, Leslie Lincoln, was lucky. She was acquitted but spent years languishing in jail waiting for the truth, hidden by prosecutors and police, to be uncovered. Without the 2004 changes in the law, Leslie might be another innocent person on death row.”

And in another letter to the N&O, Lloyd Bailey of Rocky Mount recommended a poison-pill amendment for the Conference of DA’s bill: “If a person is convicted and later found to be innocent because helpful information was withheld by the prosecutor, it should be mandatory that prosecutor serve the remainder of the term—even if it means death. This levels the playing field.”

As Jim Cooney has pointed out, the open discovery law doesn’t exist to regulate ethical DA’s—they already play by the rules. It’s needed to guard against those prosecutors who value winning more than achieving justice.


With the men’s team advancing to the Final Four, last week featured a variety of thoughtful pieces about members of the team. The Washington Times profiled one of the unsung heroes of this year’s squad, co-captain Eddie Douglas—who teammate Tony McDevitt describes as “probably the smartest kid I’ve ever met.” (Douglas graduated last spring with a degree in biomedical engineering.) Coach John Danowski seconded the praise, terming Douglas “the quintessential student-athlete. He’s sensitive, thoughtful, interested in world issues. It’s just what Duke is about. You couldn’t have planned it any better.”

As the Times’ Patrick Stevens notes, the media attention associated with the season put great pressure on Douglas to serve as a spokesman, a task for which he was remarkably well-suited. Looking back, the Duke graduate student described the year as “an unbelievable learning experience. For Matt [Danowski] and me both, it’s been a challenge at times to stand in front of everyone and deal with a lot of different questions and different issues about the program. It’s also been very rewarding. The opportunity to speak for and stand for such a great group of guys has been great for both of us.”

It’s no surprise that anti-lacrosse extremists on the Duke faculty, such as Orin Starn, don’t want to talk about people like Douglas.

They don’t want to talk about students like McDevitt, either. The first in his family to receive a college degree, McDevitt was the subject of a glowing article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The son of a Teamster, McDevitt recalled, “My parents had four kids at a very young age, and the odds were against them. But they worked their rear ends off so we could have a better life. You know, they taught me when I was younger not to worry about what other people think. But to watch television and read bold-faced lies in the newspapers, making generalizations about me, about our teammates, it hurt at times, no doubt about it. There were times I’d talk to my mom and dad and to some of my friends about how we wished people knew the truth. I tried not to let it bother me too much. Thankfully, that whole thing is in the past.”

John Danowski gushed, “Special is such an overused word in coaching, but Tony is one of those young men who really is special. He’s an excellent student. He’s a worker in the weight room. He wants to lead, and he’s a vocal about it. He’s not flashy. He’s more athletic than he is a lacrosse player sometimes, but he’s tried to do the things we’ve asked him to do this year and he gets better every day. He’s a delight to be around.”

Once again, these are the kind of people Orin Starn, Peter Wood, and the Group of 88 do not want to see at Duke.


Of course, the spotlight also led to other types of articles. A piece by Rosalind Guy in the Memphis Daily News led off with the following sentence: “The Duke University lacrosse team rape incident a year ago put the national spotlight on an issue that plagues universities all across the nation: sexual assaults on campus.

“Rape incident”? And was Guy suggesting that the “issue that plagues universities all across the nation” is accusers falsely claiming sexual assault? If not, it is difficult to see the relevance of her referencing Duke.

Guy’s conclusion: “Although charges eventually were dropped against the three athletes, the seriousness of sex crimes has not diminished on college campuses.

Meanwhile, on, Michael Corey presented the following view of events last spring for the lacrosse team:

The hellfire that was 2006 brought a postponement of the lacrosse team’s ultimate reason for matriculating at Duke in the first place—to learn via sport—as a dastardly misrepresentative of the justice system incited a public pillory of the program and the men therein. A trio was then siphoned away from the team and dumped into the cesspool that was the rhetorical filth being spewed by a rogue District Attorney, and by certain locusts in the media eager to join the schadenfreude, impatience and prejudgment that fueled the feeding frenzy.

Few would argue with Corey’s condemnation of the media and of Nifong. But he seems to have conveniently sidestepped those on Duke’s campus “eager to join the schadenfreude, impatience and prejudgment that fueled the feeding frenzy.” That decision, of course, comes as little surprise: this is the same writer who penned a February article bizarrely suggesting that the two sets of victims in this case were the lacrosse players and the Group of 88(!).

In his previous analysis, Corey critiqued what he termed the “seething” and “shrieking” blog attacks against the Group of 88, while denouncing the “lemmings” and “locusts” who read blogs. The article, I suppose, might have been more persuasive had Corey cited even one blog post that he deemed “seething” and “shrieking.” And an author concerned with “seething” and “shrieking” rhetoric might have been offended by Houston Baker calling the lacrosse players “farm animals.” Or by Bill Chafe arguing that the whites who lynched Emmett Till provided the appropriate context through which to interpret the actions of the lacrosse players. Or by the Glymph/Lubiano/Sebring panel worrying that things were “moving backwards” on campus when DNA tests came back without a match to any lacrosse player. Or by Grant Farred contending that, by registering to vote in Durham, Duke students were projecting their “secret racism” onto the city.

Corey’s only comment about such professors? He noted sympathetically that their lives were forever changed when they signed the Group of 88’s statement, which subjected them to “seething” and “shrieking” attacks from blogs—from which, of course, he never quoted. No wonder Corey chose not to reference his earlier work on lacrosse matters.


Meanwhile, several good articles dealing with the fallout from last year’s events. Both Steve Politi in the Newark Star-Ledger and Kevin Armstrong of Sports Illustrated covered the Delbarton-Chamidade game, which featured Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty as dueling assistant coaches.

And Inside Lacrosse broke the news that Duke—with the support of other ACC schools—has petitioned the NCAA to grant the entire team another year of eligibility. The move would be unprecedented—but the argument is a strong one: misconduct by Nifong (aided and abetted by the Herald-Sun, the potbangers, and the Group of 88) so poisoned the atmosphere last spring that the players’ safety couldn’t be guaranteed. The students, therefore, shouldn’t be punished because of a situation initiated by Nifong.

No word on the NCAA’s timetable to make the decision.


At Friends of Duke, an important update from Jason Trumpbour. He noted that the organization’s “approach was originally premised on the fact that Duke should be a part of that process [of ensuring the players’ innocence], not only for the sake its falsely accused students, but for its own sake. That objective has yet to be realized. Together, with many others, we changed the world around Duke for the better. However, Bob Steel’s most recent letter and the News and Communications Office’s recent attempts at history show the University still singing exactly the same tune it was a year ago.”

Trumpbour correctly noted,

At some point, the administration will have to come to terms with the lacrosse case. It is not going to go away. The incident will be relived countless more times as the many books about it are released. The story is not going to get any better for Duke with each retelling—indeed, quite the opposite. Hopefully, the administration will engage in some self reflection and soul searching so that, if the past cannot be changed, the future will. The University will have opportunities to do this in the near future. Settling the Dowd case fairly was a small step in the right direction. We are not going away yet and will watch events in the coming weeks.
He added an important point with which I—as someone who has met quite a few current and former Duke lacrosse players—strongly agree: “It is worth noting that, to date, the players are the only actors in the entire saga who have expressed any genuine regret for inappropriate behavior on their part and who have been willing to examine themselves with an eye toward improvement. They are better people for this experience and will use what they have learned to make a difference in the world. Who else in all this can say that?”


Finally, congratulations to the Duke women’s lacrosse team, for another great season. The team had a heartbreaking defeat in the Final Four—losing for the second straight year by a late goal in the national semi-final.

The team was vilified last spring by journalists (Harvey Araton, Stephen A. Smith) and Duke professors (Karla Holloway) alike. Their actions were vindicated; their critics’ judgment was proved wrong. And, of course, columnists and professors who criticized the women’s lacrosse team never apologized.

Kevin Armstrong, who has done a great job covering case-related issues for, has a nicely done article on the Final Four game and Coach Kerstin Kimel, who joins Jim Coleman as the two Duke figures whose performance so stands out in the past 15 months.

Armstrong notes,

It was the women, though, who carried the Duke brand name on the field. When wearing Duke gear was unfashionable, they donned the attire. While the men's faces appeared as headshots and their names scrolled the bottom of the screen on news networks, the women took to the field. Without shoulder pads or facemasks to hide them or offer a buffer zone, they sat in classes listening to professors rail against the lax code of conduct that the lacrosse programs purportedly allowed to fester. All the while, Kimel acted in support of both teams.

"When things were in limbo with the men, Kerstin really stepped up as someone who was really the coach of both teams for a while there," said Mike Pressler via phone on Friday. "Her steadfastness and support were amazing. Players who just needed help would stop in and see her. They knew her strength."

Again: how can it be that Duke not only did not punish professors who engaged in such behavior, but never even spoke to players on the women's and men's lacrosse teams to investigate the matter?

[Update, 11.26am: An excellent comment regarding Coach Kimel:

Should Duke win in the finals on Monday, Kerstin Kimel should feel the pride that anyone does who contributes to creating a championship team.

Pressler recruited and coached the players through 2006, Danowski coached in 2007 and this is no attempt to take away from their feats. But Kimel, suffering the slings and arrows from fools for doing so, put the entire men's team of 2006 on her back and kept them going when the vast majority at Duke either outright condemned them or ignored them.

Kimel still has plenty of time to win a championship of her own, but whether she does or not, she is the model of a winner and a champion.]

Hat tip: K.D., J.G.G.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rae Evans in Baltimore

An excellent story from AP's Aaron Beard, who is covering the Final Four in Baltimore:

Rae Evans--who attended today's game--remembered the pain of the cancellation of last year's season:

So when this year's team reached the NCAA semifinals, she sent an e-mail to co-captain Ed Douglas, which Douglas then read to the team, reminding the team to savor this year's experience

Evans told Beard, "You can never take this away from them, that they're at the Final Four. They're all my heroes, I can tell you that. Every single one of them."

As for the game? "This is a time for joy and celebration. It's not a time to look backwards."

You can read Beard's full story here.

Men's Lacrosse Wins

For those who missed the game, the men's squad defeated Cornell, 12-11, to advance to the finals against Johns Hopkins.

Goalie Dan Loftus stymied Cornell for the second and most of the third quarters with several dazzling saves, and Duke's Zack Greer scored the game-winning goal with three seconds left, on a pass from Peter Lamade.

The Monday finals, at 1pm, will be televised by ESPN.

A Word to the Wise

As the men’s lacrosse team prepares to take the field in today’s Final Four, another unfortunate sports column, this one from Mike Wise of the Washington Post.

“With all due respect to those ‘INNOCENT’ bracelets worn around Durham this year,” Wise writes, “this isn’t ‘To Kill a Mockingbird II.’”

With all due respect to Wise, here’s North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper: “We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.”

In short, each and every person who wore an “innocent” bracelet—which, Wise neglected to mention, contained the numbers of the three accused players—was vindicated by Cooper’s all-but-unprecedented declaration.

To rationalize his statement, Wise cited the facts that “aren’t disputed”: the McFadyen e-mail; the fact that college students held a raunchy spring break party (imagine that!), and that afterwards one of them (though not, as Kim Roberts admitted, any of the three to whom the “innocent” bracelets referred) made a racist comment.

Wise forgot to mention a few other facts that “aren’t disputed”—that the racist remark came in response to a racist taunt from Roberts; that we generally do not hold a group of nearly 50 people responsible for the reprehensible thoughts of one of its members; and that the McFadyen e-mail played off a book assigned in at least three Duke courses.

The second part of Wise’s statement is even more intriguing. It’s been a while since I’ve read the Harper Lee novel, but as I recall, none of the novel’s characters claimed that the man falsely accused of rape, Tom Robinson, was (to borrow a phrase preferred by Duke administrators) a “choirboy.” Indeed, Robinson’s personal character wasn’t a major theme of Lee’s novel. Nor was the character of Robinson’s friends, or any people who happened to play on sports teams with Robinson.

Instead, To Kill a Mockingbird explored how an ambitious prosecutor fanned racial prejudice and brought charges against a man he knew or should have known was innocent; how the majority of the town allowed emotion to overcome reason and joined the mob; and how Atticus Finch and his family experienced this prejudice first-hand when Finch defended Tom Robinson, stood up to the mob, and argued that all people—even those who don’t represent a group politically popular with the local majority—deserve the same procedures before the law.

To me, those are themes that resonate given the experience of Durham over the past 15 months. But, as I said, it’s been a while since I read the Harper Lee book. Perhaps Wise obtained a different interpretation from someone who has read it more recently than I have. After all, as Mike Nifong told the Herald-Sun last year, To Kill a Mockingbird is his favorite book.

The Astonishing Mr. Chalmers

At the point we did go into the grand jury [on April 17], Mangum’s accounts were consistent up to that point.

--Steven Chalmers, Herald-Sun, yesterday

Until his impromptu press conference Thursday night, it was possible to buy into one of the case’s urban myths: that perpetually absent police chief Steve Chalmers actually absented himself because he recognized early on that the investigation was—to borrow Kim Roberts’ phrase—a “crock.” Instead, Chalmers appears to be among the truest of true believers in the case.

In yesterday’s Herald-Sun, Chalmers made one of the most astonishing statements offered by any Durham figure of authority in the past 14 months. Only two explanations exist for his claim that “at the point we did go into the grand jury, Mangum’s accounts were consistent.” First, he is incompetent. Second, he is delusional.

In reality, Mangum’s accounts were inconsistent in virtually every respect possible.


On March 16, Mangum said she was 70 percent certain she saw Reade Seligmann someplace at the party. On April 6, she said she was 100 percent certain he looked like one of her attackers.

On March 21, Mangum said she didn’t recognize Dave Evans. On April 6, she said that she was 90 percent sure Evans looked like one of her attackers, except that Evans had no mustache. She hadn’t mentioned that any of her attackers had mustaches at any point previously.

On March 16, Mangum described her three attackers as a “white male, short, red cheeks fluffy hair chubby face, brn”; “Heavy set short haircut 260-270”; and “chubby.” On April 6, she said she was 100 percent Collin Finnerty, who doesn’t even remotely resemble any of those descriptions, attacked her.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

Number of Attackers

On the morning on March 14, Mangum spent several hours with Officer Gwen Sutton (who Mangum later would not recognize); she told Sutton that there were five attackers. Then, in her interview with SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy on March 14, it was three attackers. The number was still three on March 16, when Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Officer Ben Himan interviewed her. But by April 6, the number of attackers had risen to six—three who committed the crime, and three who dragged a crying Kim Roberts away from her at the bathroom door.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

Names of Attackers

In the Levicy interview, Mangum said her attackers names were Matt, Adam, and Brett. She said the same in her March 16 Gottlieb/Himan interview, and the officers then constructed photo lineups using lacrosse players with those first names as the suspects. But by April 6, Mangum said her attackers’ real names were not Matt, Adam, and Brett, and that these three names were “aliases.”

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

What Her Attackers Did

In the Levicy interview, Mangum said that Matt assaulted her orally and vaginally; Adam assaulted her anally; and Brett did neither. By March 16, the claim was that Matt assaulted her anally; Adam assaulted her orally; and Brett assaulted her vaginally and anally. And on April 6, Matt and Brett assaulted her vaginally and anally; while Adam assaulted her orally.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

The Marital Plans of Her Attackers

On March 14, Mangum claimed that, during the attack, Matt mentioned he was getting married the next day. No record survives of Mangum making any such claim in her March 16 interview with Gottlieb and Himan. By April 6, one of the attackers was back on the eve of betrothal, only this time it was Adam who was getting married the next day.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

The Role of Kim Roberts

In her interviews with the Durham Access Center nurse and then with Levicy, Mangum accused Roberts of stealing her money; the Levicy interview also featured Roberts as a de facto accomplice to the criminals, someone who carried her back into the house and then helped clean her up and dress her after the “attack.” By April 6, however, Roberts was a fellow victim, torn away—in tears—from Mangum at the bathroom door.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

The Nature of the Attack

In her discussions with Duke Hospital medical personnel, Mangum denied that she had been struck during the attack. The next day, she told UNC doctors that she had been “knocked to the floor multiple times and had hit her head on the sink.”

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.

Mangum’s Alcohol Intake

In her March 14 interview with Levicy, Mangum said she might have had one or two beers before the dance. The next day, she informed UNC doctors that during the attack, she was “drunk and did not feel pain.” The following day, according to the Gottlieb memo, Mangum was a virtual teetotaler, having consumed no alcohol other than a mixed drink the sergeant implied had been spiked.

But according to Chalmers, Mangum’s “accounts were consistent” between March 14 and April 17.


Brad Bannon correctly termed Chalmers’ statement “the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard in my life, and I can't believe anyone who has read the case file would say those things. Crystal Mangum never told the same story twice. Her accounts were all over the place between March 14 and when these cases were submitted to the grand jury. That statement by the police chief lets me know he knows nothing about the investigation he's commenting about.”

But in the Wonderland that is Durham, wholly inconsistent stories are the paragon of consistency—just as defense attorneys are to blame when the police and prosecutor seek indictments against demonstrably innocent people without probable cause.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pressler Interview with AP

On the eve of the men's lacrosse national semi-final, the AP's Aaron Beard has an exclusive interview with former coach Mike Pressler.

Pressler was generous in praise of his former players:
I don't think 'pride' or 'proud' even describes how I feel about these young men and what they've accomplished in spite of what they've been through. It's an amazing story and the story should be focused on them.

For me, I get gratification to see them succeed at the highest level with everything they've been through. That, to me, is an amazing thing.

Current members of the team and current coach John Danowski were equally generous in their comments about Pressler. And Beard notes an extraordinary irony: Pressler "remains the only Duke official to lose a job as a result of the case, even though an internal investigation concluded he was the only university employee to take significant action when accusations of wrongdoing - including disorderly conduct and public urination - emerged about the lacrosse team." Those who orchestrated Duke's response to Nifong's charges, on the other hand, have faced no consequences; nor have the faculty members who ignored the requirements of the Faculty Handbook to treat all Duke students with "respect" as fellow members of the academic community.

Beard's full story is here.

DPD: Internal Candidate to Replace Chalmers?

If any organization cries out for bringing in someone from the outside to clean house, it's the Durham Police Department.

Yet, as WRAL reports, the three finalists for the position include Chalmers' current deputy, Ron Hodge.

City Manager Patrick Baker said that Hodge and the other two finalists “meet the criteria and qualities I had in mind for the next chief, including having risen through the ranks at a similar size police department, holding positions that allowed them to develop strong field and management experience, combined with an appreciation for strong community relations.”

In other words: the DPD has gone through an ethical crisis of enormous proportions, yet dealing with such issues isn't among the chief criteria of the candidates to replace Chalmers? Remarkable.

Linwood & The Intimidators

Linwood Wilson is the Triangle’s version of Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, or Jimmy Swaggert—figures whose ostentatious displays of their religiosity concealed hollow moral cores.

No word yet on whether the group will be performing outside the Bar’s ethics trial of Mike Nifong, who will surely be, at that time, still "in the fire."

The Group of 88: Non-Endorsement "Endorsements"

The Group of 88’s ad did not include a list of all 88 Duke faculty members who signed onto the statement. But it did specifically assert that five Duke academic departments (Romance Studies; Psychology: Social and Health Sciences; Art, Art History, and Visual Studies; Classical Studies; and Asian & African Languages & Literature) as well as 10 academic programs formally endorsed the statement.

It is hard to overstate how unusual such an endorsement is. Academic departments rarely sign onto statements that do not directly deal with departmental concerns. That nearly 20 percent of a school’s arts and sciences departments would endorse a statement such as that produced by the Group of 88 is extraordinary. These departmental (and program) endorsements gave the statement added heft—perhaps explaining why the statement’s principal author, Wahneema Lubiano, included the names of the relevant departments in the text.

How could it be, as occurred in each of the five departments above, that a majority of a department’s professors did not sign onto the ad individually, but then took the far more significant step of supporting a formal departmental endorsement of the statement?

Well, it turns out, they didn’t.

In some, and perhaps all, of the five departments, no vote to sign onto the ad ever occurred. There was no informal polling of department members, either. Some, and perhaps all, of the departments listed as signing onto the Group of 88’s statement did not, in fact, ever endorse the ad.

Two members of the Classical Studies Department had informed me that no departmental vote on whether to endorse the ad occurred, and so I asked the department’s chairman, Peter Burian, what had happened. He replied,

Your information is correct. The department did not vote to endorse the ad. An individual faculty member gave the “go ahead,” and at least one member of the department was upset that this had happened without departmental consent. The action was well-intentioned, if in retrospect it may appear mistaken; it needs to be understood in the context of the immediate, highly emotional reactions to the first reports of the incident.

In effect, then, a professor decided to confer upon herself the authority to speak on behalf not only of her 10 colleagues but also an established department of Duke University.

No doubt that the situation in Durham was highly emotional last spring. It’s worth remembering, however, that the Group’s statement was hardly immediate—it went to print on April 6, more than a week after defense attorneys had publicly asserted that the DNA tests that Mike Nifong had promised would exonerate the innocent would all come back negative, and nearly two weeks after the first press reports on the case. Indeed, the rush to produce the ad appears to have stemmed less from emotion than from Lubiano’s desire to get the ad published before the DNA test results came back.

Academic freedom carries with it responsibilities as well as rights—and one responsibility is to follow accepted procedures, or at least make a good faith effort to do so. It’s hard for me to believe that a tenured, full professor was unaware that she did not have the authority to unilaterally say that her department endorsed a public statement.

An even murkier situation exists in the (since consolidated) Department of Psychology: Social and Health Sciences. Two members of the (then) department told me that no vote occurred on whether the department as a whole should endorse the ad; and the department’s then-chairman, Tim Strauman, confirmed that he had no recollection of any vote. Had such a vote taken place, of course, the motion to endorse almost certainly would have been rejected—since not even one member of the department individually signed the Group of 88’s statement.

So on what basis did Lubiano claim that Psychology: Social and Health Sciences endorsed the ad? She isn’t saying: she earlier had instructed me, when I asked her what evidence she possessed that the Brodhead administration had responded last spring in an overly favorable fashion to the lacrosse players, “Do not email me again. I am putting your name and email address in my filter.”

The “endorsement” of a third department also does not appear to have occurred: In Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, 10 of the 12 faculty did not sign the statement individually. I e-mailed the department chairman, Hans van Miegroet, to ask under what procedures his department endorsed the ad; he declined comment.

The chairs of the other two departments to sign onto the ad (Leo Ching and Margaret Greer) were members of the Group of 88. They did not reply to requests on what procedures their departments followed in electing to sign onto the ad.

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Northwestern law professor Jim Lindgren (who has served as an associate dean at two universities) explained the severity of this breach of academic protocol.

Could it be that one or more of the approximately 15 departments or programs that supposedly endorsed the letter did not do so? Did the letter writers fabricate departmental or programmatic support that did not exist, either intentionally or out of confusion?

That is a truly frightening possibility, even if less likely to have happened than some of the other [possible explanations]. After the Group of 88’s letter was published with departments and programs at Duke presented as official signatories, the President or the administration would likely have talked to at least a few chairs to determine the circumstances of their departments’ signing on. Is it possible that the President or another member of his administration had discovered that the authors of the Group of 88 were falsely claiming official Duke departmental endorsements that were fraudulent—and kept silent about it?

Leading a university is like herding cats, and faculty members can be expected to make many irresponsible statements for which the administration can’t reasonably be held responsible. But claiming departmental support (if there were none) is a claim that an administration would have a moral (and perhaps a legal) obligation to correct. Publishing the Group of 88’s letter certainly damaged the reputation of the Duke students accused of rape, and encouraged those who were harassing them. If a professor lied about whether departments or programs at Duke joined in the denunciation of the accused Duke students, that lie would have damaged the reputation of those students.

The false claim of departmental endorsements, ironically, was then reaffirmed in the January “clarifying” statement—which defiantly rejected calls to apologize or to back down in any way from the Group of 88 statement. Whatever else motivated them, the “clarifying” faculty certainly were not responding to the emotions of Crystal Mangum’s initial allegations and Mike Nifong’s pre-primary publicity barrage. So it remains the official, public position of more than 100 Duke professors that the departments of Classical Studies, Psychology: Social and Health Sciences, and Art/Art History formally endorsed the Group of 88 ad.


Last spring, there was a spring break party that featured drinking and boorish, raunchy entertainment—hardly an extraordinary occurrence, except perhaps at institutions such as Liberty or BYU that most politically correct professors disdain. The party—because, it’s worth remembering, all such writers claimed they weren’t prejudging the criminal case—triggered hostile op-eds or letters from no fewer than 14 Duke arts and sciences professors, critical comments from at least a dozen more, a denunciatory ad signed by 88 faculty members, and presidential comments inaccurately suggesting that the lacrosse team had a history of racist behavior and asserting, “Whatever they did is bad enough.”

A few weeks later, what Lindgren correctly called a “frightening” breach of academic protocol occurred, in which three and perhaps five departments were listed as endorsing a highly controversial public statement even though the departments had never voted to endorse the statement—and, in fact, even though a majority of at least three of the departments clearly did not support it. This abandonment of standard academic procedure has, to date, produced no critical comment at all, from anyone in the Brodhead administration.

In one of her essays on the case, USC law professor Susan Estrich wrote, “There are reasons you follow procedures. In general, they are there to spare outrage.” Following procedures in this instance would have spared the outrage of a document prominently cited in the defense change-of-venue motion falsely claiming endorsement from several of Duke’s academic departments.