The shameless Wendy Murphy is back, this time spouting off in a Boston Globe letter to the editor. Conducting an investigation and presenting physical or DNA or witness evidence in court? Not a requirement, it seems, to Murphy: “There's nothing inherently difficult about prosecuting rape. It is, in fact, the easiest and least expensive crime to investigate and prosecute. The victim takes the stand and says she was forced to have sex without her consent. If the jurors believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, they vote guilty.”
The villains? “We've always used the law as a way of indulging male entitlement over women's freedom. That we allow defense attorneys to obfuscate and eroticize rape trials as a way of distorting the truth to produce an unfair result only adds insult to injury.”
In reality, what “only adds insult to injury” is that anyone could take seriously the utterances of Murphy, a figure who seems oblivious to the truth, and someone who seems unaware of the basic tenets of due process. What does it say about the values of the Massachusetts Bar that it allows such a person to practice law in the Bay State?
The Durham “grassroots” has also made its return, this time in the form of Fahim Knight, “chief researcher for the “Keeping It Real Think Tank.” (The think tank’s mission: “to inform African Americans and all people of good will of the pending dangers that lie ahead; as well as decode the symbolisms and reinterpret the hidden meanings behind those who operate as invisible forces, but covertly rules the world.”)
In a recent post, Knight brought his . . . unusual . . . analytical tools to the lacrosse case. How and why were charges dismissed? Due to the machinations of . . . Duke! That, of course, is the same Duke that reached a settlement with the falsely accused players and is currently facing massive civil rights lawsuits for violating the unindicted players’ rights. But, in the world according to Knight, Duke was actually rigging the case in the players’ behavior.
Nifong, of course, is a victim in this version of reality: “Duke University used its enormous influence and power to punish District Attorney Michael Nifong and to set an example for other ambitious adversaries who might consider in the future of contesting Duke’s power. Nifong has been character assassinated [sic] and has been publicly ridiculed for daring to come up against this historical great tobacco rich and aristocratic dynastic family institution. The North Carolina Bar Association, which is controlled by Duke(!) eventually disbarred Nifong stripping him of his law license and ability to earn money.”
And what of the false accuser, Crystal Mangum? Knight writes, “This writer also believes the victim [sic] Crystal Mangum who resides down the street from where I live, and I believe she was also paid off by Duke. Duke in one sense made her to go away. She has recently published her memoirs [en]titled, “The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story” and willing [sic] to bet you she has been very selective at the advisement of her attorneys[?] about how far she was going to go with telling the story because I am quite sure she had signed a clause with Duke University forbidding her of speaking or writing the truth.”
Unclear is exactly what Duke paid for. While Mangum never told the same story twice, she did claim to prosecutors that she had been attacked (while, as a reminder, she was levitating in midair, and shortly after she had spent seven minutes chatting with her father while simultaneously performing an exotic dance). Perhaps Knight is claiming that Duke paid Mangum to offer a story so bizarre that no one except Mike Nifong and most of the Group of 88 would believe it?
On Friday, I e-mailed Knight to ask him why Duke would have “paid off” Mangum to help students that the University’s leadership and activist faculty had gone out of their way to revile. He didn’t respond.
ESPN ombudsman Le Ann Schreiber recently commented on the network’s decision not to report allegations that Jets quarterback Brett Favre had phoned the Detroit Lions management to pass along inside information about his former team, the Green Bay Packers. The reason?
“When allegations are made against somebody,” [ESPN senior vice president and director of news Vince] Doria said, “with no confirmation or evidence on our part, and you go to the person and get a denial, and then use the denial to you as justification for putting the allegations out there—to me, that has always seemed an unethical way to get a story out if it involves a matter of character.”
That is old school journalistic ethics, music to any ombudsman’s ears, and yet Doria is right about the perception problem. ESPN can’t win on this one, because no one can come up with recent precedents.
One reason, of course, that “no one can come up with recent precedents” is how espn.com handled (and, by refusing to repudiate the story, continues to handle) the lacrosse case. An ESPN piece that appeared as an insert column on April 11, 2006—the day after defense attorneys announced that the DNA tests Mike Nifong had promised would exonerate the innocent all had come back with no matches—was reported by Eric Adelson.
Citing one and only one source—and an anonymous source, at that—Adelson provided “a detailed account of the exotic dancer’s arrival at the hospital the night of the alleged sexual assault.” The source claimed that Mangum was “beat up . . . She was hysterical . . . She was crying, she was pretty banged up.” Paraphrasing the anonymous source, Adelson suggested that “there were bruises on her face, neck, and arms” and “there were injuries to the woman’s pelvic area.”
Adelson’s performance would hardly conform to “old school journalistic ethics.” There were, in fact, only two logical explanations of his column: (1) He invented the anonymous source; or (2) An anonymous source—which, as a thread in the old Liestoppers convincingly argued, was probably former Duke Police Officer Sara Falcon—lied to him.
Astonishingly, even after the completion of the Attorney General’s investigation—which provided, it’s worth reiterating, not a scintilla of evidence to corroborate the claims of Adelson’s single anonymous source—Adelson stood by his story. Last summer, I e-mailed Schreiber to bring to her attention the errors in Adelson’s story. She didn't respond.
Duke scored a victory late last week, when Judge James Beaty upheld the University’s argument that it had the power to unilaterally defer meetings to discuss discovery requirements. Beaty wrote,
Having considered the arguments of the parties, the Court concludes that allowing discovery to proceed further at this time, prior to the filing of Answers and prior to a determination of the claims and parties that will remain following resolution of the Motions to Dismiss, would be premature and inefficient, particularly in light of the scope of this litigation and the number of claims asserted and the number of Defendants named. In addition, proceeding with full discovery at this time would likely result in significant discovery disputes that could only be resolved by determination of the issues raised in the Motions to Dismiss.
Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that further discovery should proceed only after the pending Motions to Dismiss are resolved.
The decision was a perfectly logical one, although, of course, normally one party in a case doesn't get to unilaterally change the rules.
And the Durham Police Department sustains its classy reputation.