At this stage of events, it would seem unlikely that any more new items would appear. But, of course, that’s not the case. Both the lawsuit filed last week on behalf of 38 players and Bob Ekstrand’s December lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ryan McFadyen, Matt Wilson, and Breck Archer, brought a host of new information to the table.
Perhaps the two most significant items, one from each lawsuit:
1.) The Day memo
In May 2006, the Bowen/Chambers report—whose chief motivation appeared to be negating the Coleman Committee’s largely positive portrayal of the lacrosse players—inadvertently revealed that Duke Police Officer Christopher Day had penned a report, from the night of the party, stating that a Durham Police officer had told his superiors that Crystal Mangum had claimed that 20 people raped her. The Day report suggested that Mangum was—to put it charitably—a less than reliable complainant.
Day later filed an “amendment” casting doubt on his initial report’s reliability. Yet, as we know now, his first report was correct: as the Nifong ethics trial depositions revealed, Sgt. John Shelton had just the conversation on which Day reported.
Friday’s filing makes the explosive claim: “Once the case exploded into public view on March 24, however, Duke still did not produce Officer Day’s report to the lacrosse players or the public. On the contrary, on information and belief, Duke actively took steps to suppress this report, to silence Officer Day, and later (when the existence of Day’s report became public) to discredit the report.”
The Ekstrand lawsuit discusses the highly questionable Duke judicial inquiry into lacrosse player Matt Wilson. In early summer 2006,
Even more problematic were the events of
By its own standards, then, Duke obstructed justice by interrogating
Other new items:
1.) Gottlieb on the case: March 15, 2006
One mystery of the case is how, exactly, Mangum’s complaint wound up in the lap of Duke-hating Sgt. Mark Gottlieb. Gottlieb had been reassigned away from dealing with Duke students (because of his pattern of abusive behavior towards them), and was involved with the property crimes, not the sex crimes, unit of the DPD.
Friday’s lawsuit provides the most convincing explanation of this conundrum: to Mangum on March 15, this wasn’t a sexual assault case at all. Instead, it was a robbery case, with the sole suspect Kim Roberts. Mangum informed Duke Police Officer B.S. Jones that she wanted to file charges against Roberts. And so, the suit contends, “In response to this phone call from Mangum, Jones referred Mangum’s case to Sergeant Mark Gottlieb, who was in charge of Property Crimes for District 2 of the
2.) In-class harassment: March 24, 2006
Until now, the earliest known date of in-class harassment by a Duke professor was on March 27, when History professor Reeve Huston shared the results of his “research” with his class: a sexual assault—complete with “ejaculation”—took place. The six lacrosse players in Huston’s class walked out of the proceedings. (Huston has refused repeated requests for comment on his behavior.)
According to Friday’s lawsuit, however, the first in-class harassment actually occurred on March 24—or the day after the initial press reports about the fraudulent non-testimonial order. The lawsuit notes,
Already on Friday, March 24, at least one lacrosse player, Peter Lamade, was subjected to in-class harassment by his professor before his peers. This would be the first of many such incidents in the ensuing weeks, as the campus atmosphere, exacerbated by the vitriolic harassment of the activist professors and student protestors, became hostile and intolerable to the lacrosse team.
3.) The parents’ meeting: March 25, 2006
Duke never investigated the claims of in-class harassment—even after administrators received reports of improper faculty behavior at an April 6, 2006 meeting with coaches. Friday’s lawsuit makes clear that parents had pressed for Duke to enforce its own procedures—but that the University had refused to do so:
The parents asked Moneta to remind professors of Duke’s policy . . . prohibiting harassment of students, including in-class harassment of students by professors. Moneta refused, even though, as noted above, at least one lacrosse player had been the subject of such in-class harassment the day before.
4.) FERPA: April 5, 2006
One of the most serious allegations in Friday’s lawsuit involves the University’s apparent decision to share student keycode information with the Durham Police. If true, this act would have violated federal law (the so-called FERPA). For those outside the academy: colleges and universities take FERPA very seriously. Universities might ignore media criticism, or even alumni criticism, but they live in (justified) terror of federal inquiries.
Yet, as the Ekstrand lawsuit points out, Duke was aware of its obligations under FERPA in other ways. The University wanted to be able to get the p.r. benefit from its decision to suspend Ryan McFadyen. Yet student disciplinary records cannot be publicly revealed without the student signing a FERPA waiver. On the chaotic day of April 5—when Brodhead canceled the season and fired Coach Pressler—university officials nonetheless tracked down McFadyen to get him to sign a waiver. Though they had time to do so, they didn’t make any effort to ask him about the context of his e-mail.
5.) Duke/Durham Police
A consistent refrain from the Brodhead administration: it couldn’t look into the allegations, because Duke had no authority to conduct a criminal inquiry.
Yet, as the Ekstrand lawsuit pointed out, not only did Duke have the authority, it had primary authority. Duke and
Duke officials had never revealed the existence of the arrangement.
6.) Board of Trustees chairman Bob Steel
Throughout the case, Steel was nothing short of a p.r. nightmare for Duke. In August 2006, he totally contradicted the official Duke line for canceling the season (punishment for the party, a need to defer to the criminal justice process). Instead, he informed the New Yorker, the season was canceled because “we had to stop those pictures [of the players practicing]. It doesn’t mean that it’s fair, but we had to stop it. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think it was right—it just had to be done.”
Friday’s lawsuit indicated that Steel’s tendency to wander off message wasn’t confined to the New Yorker interview. As the lawsuit notes, the Board chairman “later stated to Sally Fogarty, mother of player Gibbs Fogarty, regarding the firing of Coach Pressler: ‘Life sucks. Bad things happen to good people and you better get used to it.’”
Steel’s deposition doubtless will be an interesting affair.