At this stage, nothing about the lacrosse case should in any way surprise me—but then someone like Rob Taylor comes along. Taylor, who runs a crime-related blog out of Greenville, South Carolina, was invited by Frontpage to participate in a forum on the Casey Anthony trial. The panel’s other members: Alan Dershowitz, Bill Anderson, and Ben Shapiro, a Harvard Law grad and Los Angeles lawyer.
After a reference to Nancy Grace’s appalling coverage of the Anthony trial, the forum moderator mentioned Grace’s even more appalling treatment of the lacrosse case. But Taylor would have none of it.
“The accused in that case [emphasis added],” he huffed, “aren’t innocent. Innocent people don’t gangbang hookers, they don’t stiff hookers and they don’t hurl racial slurs at them.” Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty—“the accused in that case”— were guilty, Taylor wildly continued, of “criminality and immoral behavior . . . three guys stiffed a hooker and got burned . . . My point here is that though they weren’t guilty of rape they were not innocent. They hired two hookers (not strippers), didn’t get the color they wanted and when an argument ensued started calling them the ‘n’ word. Justice prevailed – but they brought this on themselves when they hired and fought with two drug addled hookers.” The falsely accused players, Taylor concluded, are “degenerates whose degeneracy led them to be the victims of other degenerates.”
(The FrontPage moderator vehemently rebuked Taylor for his comments, though the magazine nonetheless printed Taylor’s wild assertions.)
I concluded that, perhaps, Taylor had obtained secret and heretofore-unrevealed evidence about what transpired at the party, since I couldn’t imagine that someone at this stage would be so willfully inaccurate in a public forum. So I wrote to Taylor, identified my background and connection to the case, and asked him for the evidence upon which he based his opinions. I pointed out that the known evidence contradicted Taylor’s version of events in at least five ways:
(1) That despite Taylor’s assertion that “though they weren’t guilty of rape they were not innocent. They hired two hookers,” Seligmann and Finnerty played no role in the planning of the party, much less the decision to hire the strippers;
(2) That despite Taylor’s assertion that the allegedly “innocent people” had elected to “gangbang hookers,” there was no evidence, including the negative DNA tests, of any sexual contact of any kind between Crystal Mangum and Seligmann, Finnerty, or Evans (or to any lacrosse player);
(3) That despite Taylor’s assertion that “though they weren’t guilty of rape they were not innocent. They hired two hookers (not strippers), didn’t get the color they wanted and when an argument ensued started calling them the ‘n’ word,” unimpeachable electronic data confirmed that neither Seligmman nor Finnerty were even present at the house when one player hurled a racial epithet at the second dancer, Kim Roberts;
(4) That despite Taylor’s description of Roberts as one of “two drug addled hookers,” no evidence exists that Roberts was a hooker, or that she was “drug addled” or in any way incapacitated; and
(5) That despite Taylor’s assertion that “they hired two hookers,” no evidence exists that the player who hired the strippers (who was, of course, not one of the falsely accused players, despite Taylor’s claim to the contrary) actually intended to hire not strippers but hookers.
It’s difficult to paraphrase Taylor’s response, so I’ll print it below, with the profanity as in the original:
Are you kidding? I have $500 for you (if you're married) and you go tell your wife now that you want to hire strippers from an escort service. [As none of the people at the party were married, I’m not sure what point Taylor is attempting to make here—ed.] Then go to a strip club with real strippers and ask them to insert something in themselves without having the bouncer beat you half to death.
This is what my comments were about - common fucking sense. These kids hired hookers. That's who you hire from escort services and there are no "strippers" who work frat houses [Taylor appears unaware of the nearly two dozen Duke parties in the 2005-6 academic year that hired escorts—ed.]. You know that. You're pretending not to because it's convenient.
I didn't say this or that individual did a specific act - I said if you hire drugged out hookers and they know where you live you should remain on good terms with them. You're little boyfriends are lucky that Mangum - who as it turned out was an insane murderer - didn't kill one of them and you and I both know she was probably planning that before she killed her old man. They put themselves in danger just like people who buy weed in Prospect park do. In your rush to defend them you pretend they weren't doing anything wrong or that they themselves weren't committing crimes. Like underage drinking or HIRING ESCORTS. They were not guilty of rape - but they weren't innocent. That word should means something in our society but it doesn't because degenerates like yourself are so eager to deflect judgement from society they work to promote the illusion that morality is subjective.
Now for your question when Anderson mentioned the case I went to other crime blogs and read the archived police and witness statements. Then I used common sense. I'm from jersey - I met strippers and I currently have a couple of tipsters who work in the sex industry. I know the deal. You can Google and find the same sites I went to.
Now let me lay a real truth on you. You teach at some college that's a step above Essex County Community. I have a Masters from Wesleyan University.Neither of these things matter[emphasis in original] and the fact that you're an academic with time to run a blog about old cases is not as impressive as you would think. I get paid to do this - I make a living writing on the web etc. I don't get paid to debate with random weirdos on the web (except in that Frontpage piece). I don't know who you think you are, but the sense of entitlement that drives you to think I need to answer to you is the similar to the one that makes idiots think hookers don't have ways of getting even with them. Contemplate this.
I get it. You want to promote the book you slapped your name on which is no doubt about this case. [I actually have published six books; and have done no promotional work for the lacrosse book in more than three years—ed.] But before you insert yourself into this moment on the web I can tell you that it's my policy to ignore and/or mock people who are condescending in their emails. Also I publish them along with their contact info. [My contact info. is already public, on both the blog and my personal website—ed.] Now if you want to rethink what you wrote and contact me in a more respectful manner I might trade a cordial email with you. But right now I'm going to tell you I'm working, and you need to get a real job hippy because it's the middle of the goddamn day and you're trolling me via email.
If you don't like what I said leave a comment at Frontpage. Who are you think I'd want to engage you personally? I moved out of NYC (The Bronx - where real men live) because I don't like New Yorkers. Not interested in talking to any now. [Though I work in New York, I’m actually a resident of Maine. I presume Taylor doesn’t like Mainers, either—ed.]
Sifting through this extraordinarily angry and defensive response, it would be easy (and not altogether inaccurate) to dismiss Taylor as full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. That said, a few items stand out:
(1) Taylor consumed quite a few words (618, to be exact) to say what could have been said in one sentence (i.e., “I can say whatever I want about the case, and refuse to provide any documentation for my remarks.”)
(2) Why? One theory: Taylor recognized that he needed to walk back the most obviously false (and almost certainly defamatory) item of his Frontpage screed—his assertion that the three falsely accused players (1) hired “hookers”; (2) participated in a “gangbang” with one of these “hookers”; and (3) hurled a racial slur at both Roberts and Mangum.
Yet Taylor’s denial—“I didn't say this or that individual did a specific act”—is absurd. He clearly referred to “the accused,” the “three guys,” who “though they weren’t guilty of rape . . . were not innocent.” Rather than retract his demonstrably false statements about Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans, Taylor simply asserted that he didn’t say what he said—even though there’s a permanent record of his remarks.
Indeed, by admitting that he had researched the case, including police reports, before penning his incendiary remarks, Taylor has sacrificed any claim of ignorance about the case. Instead, he all but admitted that he defamed the three falsely accused players—“the accused”—with actual malice.
(3) Even if only 1 percent of the American public shares both Taylor’s ignorance and his indifference to facts, that would total more than 3 million people—suggesting the massive, and likely permanent, nature of the harm caused to the falsely accused players by the misconduct of Nifong, the DPD, and DNA Security.