The Chronicle reports that Michael Burch was recently arrested on charges of rape. Burch is the same man arrested for rape after a February 2007 party at a house rented by members of Duke’s predominately African-American Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. The Chronicle reminded us that “police had found marijuana, cocaine and Oxycontin in the house” at which the February 2007 party was held. Burch, who is not a Duke student, is African-American; his February 2007 accuser, who was a Duke student, is white. Neither the Chronicle nor the N&O revealed the race of Burch’s second accuser.
After his February 2007 arrest, Burch was held on a $50,000 bond. It was hard to miss the disparity between this figure and the amount ex-Nifong boss and current Durham judge Ronald Stephens assigned to the falsely accused lacrosse players—$400,000, with a requirement for posting the entire amount in cash, rather than (as Burch received) a 10% bond. The father of Burch’s accuser certainly noticed how Durham Justice operates:
We feel eschewed because the Duke lacrosse players had to post $400,000 and this individual had to post $50,000. From a racial aspect, on the outside looking in, [it seems they thought] ‘four white kids from the North let’s make it $400,000 and for a black guy let’s make it $50,000.’ A crime is a crime.
Of course, the Burch case revealed not only the double standards in Durham Justice but in Duke Justice. The clarifying faculty told us that the Group of 88 had—based only the version of events presented by Mike Nifong and Sgt. Mark Gottlieb—proclaimed that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum, had thanked protesters who carried a “castrate” banner, and had promised to continue their crusade “regardless of what the police say or the court decides” because of “the atmosphere that allows sexism, racism, and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus.”
Certainly, then, we should have expected a cacophony of protest from the Group targeted at Burch—given that his alleged victim was a student at the University from which the Group members draw their salaries. And yet the Group’s sound was silence.
Burch’s second arrest? Again, not a peep. I’ll be checking the pages of the Chronicle for another Wahneema Lubiano-organized ad, but I’m not betting on it. Could the Group members have become latter-day civil libertarians?
As for the University? In the Burch I case, Larry Moneta appeared to shift the blame to the accusing Duke student, commenting that the situation was “part of the reality of collegiate life and of experimentation and some of the consequences of students not necessarily always being in the right place at the right time.” (Imagine if Moneta had issued a statement early in the lacrosse case seeming to blame Crystal Mangum.) Neither Moneta nor anyone else from Duke has issued a statement in Burch II; it’s unclear if Moneta still maintains his selective blame-the-accuser approach.
The house rented by the fraternity members had four students; Moneta told the N&O that Duke had moved the quartet to temporary campus housing, because “we wanted them to be able to concentrate on their classes.” That’s the same Moneta who, in the lacrosse case, told two Duke students whose house was besieged by a mob of potbangers that they should call the Durham Police for assistance, since he couldn’t do anything.
By the way: Burch will come to trial sometime in 2009, so his case will be handled by a D.A.’s office under the leadership of newly elected D.A. Tracey Cline. That’s the same Cline who issued misleading or outright false statements about her role in the office’s lacrosse case misconduct, and was scheduled to assist Nifong in the prosecution of the bogus charges. How reassuring.