Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Tale of Two Men

Robert Wellington is a Duke lacrosse parent; he recently sent me the essay below, which I reproduce in its entirety:

In a world that has become complacent with respect to honesty--or more accurately stated, the lack thereof--two men have emerged as symbols of this new debased standard. One man is the president of the highly regarded Duke University, the other serves as District Attorney in Durham, North Carolina. One man prides himself on his intellectual capacity and erudite demeanor, the other on his newly won status and influence as the top law enforcement official within his community.

Both men relish in their power and positions of leadership and seemingly will do anything to maintain them, yet neither is a leader. Both men seem to be motivated by fear—the fear of being pushed from the vaunted heights of their personal fiefdoms, the fear of criticism, the fear of admitting that they have made a mistake.
But most of all, they seem to fear being viewed differently than the way they see themselves when looking into a mirror. Neither has the courage to look deeply inside and see who they really are, to catch that glimmer of inspiration which might put them on the road to understanding the responsibilities as well as the hardships that come with the ordination to high office.

Both men have reacted to the Duke Lacrosse circumstances with one overriding impetus: their personal survival. Neither looked more than one move ahead when they condemned the Duke team, its coach, and its players. Both followed an agenda laid out long before, in one case by those unhappy with the status quo and in the other by the almighty god to those in public office, the politics of reelection. Neither looked at the facts as they related to the circumstances and players in the Duke Lacrosse travesty; neither cared much for seeking the truth.

One needed to quickly show his constituents that he was on top of his new position as president of Duke University, perhaps a reaction to criticism he had received while at Yale. The other needed to show his constituents that he was fair to people of all colors within his jurisdiction and quick to smite illegality in whatever form it presented itself.
Ferreting out the facts and determining if a crime actually happened was secondary to showing the public how good each looked in their shining armor. As a result, one man rushed to judgment, inflicting more harm on his institution and all associated with it than if a crime had actually occurred. The other ignored proper legal protocol, committing all sorts of procedural improprieties in the hope that the end would justify the means. In the end it appears that the only crimes committed were by these two men.

I fear that both men are well aware of their misdeeds. I fear that once again the actions of both men will be driven by their internal mantra of self-preservation. I fear that each man will never be able to admit that he has made a mistake, much less correct it.

One man hides behind his call for patience so that healing can take place. The other hides behind a fabricated conviction that he believes the boys are guilty no matter what the facts might show. Neither has the courage to say that he was wrong.
Both want to be seen as leaders of men, yet both lack the courage to be honest. Honesty in this case begins with admitting their errors and then correcting them. Perhaps we can forgive their early missteps as being the result of limited facts. But they know what is right now: 1800 pages of prosecutorial evidence, or more correctly lack thereof, have clearly laid out the right action to take.

It is time for these men to clean up the mess they have made. It is time for them to make reparations to those they have harmed. It is best that they fix things now while the power and ability to make amends is still in their hands. The wheels of justice turn slowly but they will not be denied.

This is more than a case of three boys falsely accused by a troubled woman. This is a case of doing what is right. What is right is helping the individuals involved; helping those indicted (and all who have been falsely tarred by these fabricated allegations) to be declared innocent before the world and made whole mentally, emotionally and economically; and also helping the accuser to get proper therapeutic and medical assistance so that she can get her life back on track.

This is not a case of black vs. white or privileged vs. underprivileged. This is a case of honesty, both legally and socially. I call upon these men to do what is right and I pray that they will find the wisdom to know what that is and the courage to do it. Justice will be meted out eventually. The opportunity can be theirs or left to their inheritors. It is time for them to choose.

Wellington's son, Rob, was recently named for the second straight year to the ACC Academic Honor Roll. 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 confirming that he was with Reade Seligmann throughout the period of the alleged crime. He did so before Seligmann produced, among other items, cellphone records and an ATM videotape confirming that Seligmann is demonstrably innocent.

By risking Nifong's wrath to tell the truth, Rob Wellington is one of the few heroes of this affair.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing to light another true hero in this case!

Anonymous said...

Wow Great essay Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew how to contact Mr. Wellington and thank him for his so eloquently written words - that completely reflect my own (not so eloquent words). The "Duke Lacrosse situation" has become less about the accuser and the accused than it has become about the interim-Durham County District Attorney.

He is certainly guilty of violating the NC BAR ethics rules as they pertain to prosecutors (section 3.8) as well as section 3.6.

Additionally, I believe if someone were to be able to determine how the accuser went from not being able to identify anyone in 6 prior lineups (on 3/14 and 3/21) and provided physical descriptions so far off ANY of the DLAX players (short, chubby 260/270 pounds) ... to identifying "4" attackers with 90% & 100% certainty and as many as 14 other party attendees (including what they wore and where they were that night), I think we'd find that she was coached by someone - or directed to websites where she could research the team members.

Note that the ID process was directed by Mr. Nifong very likely AFTER he learned that the DNA evidence came back clearing the LAX. This is evident in his media statements -- up until 3/30 he indicated that DNA would solve the case. On 3/30 he began saying that the case would not fail w/o DNA -- not when the AV could ID her attackers (note that on that date she COULD NOT and HAD NOT ID'd her attackers). On 3/31 he ordered the new lineup - on 4/4 the AV's memory was amazingly improved. If someone could prove that she was somehow coached (or threatened) between 3/30 and 4/4 - that may be prosecutorial misconduct - much more serious (imo) than ethics violations.

Durham Voters - please support the Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek effort. The committee needs both financial and volunteers. Visit for details.

Anonymous said...

To correct my previous typo:

Durham Voters - please support the Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek effort. The committee needs both financial support and volunteers. Visit for details.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for both of the above articles. I have often despaired over the past four months. The words "honor", "courage", and "honesty" have seemed like relics of a world I once knew, long gone now. Thank you, from this baby boomer for renewing my faith that those amorphous concepts do still exist. Thank you, in particular, Mr. Wellington, for sharing with all of us- and for sharing Rob with us!
Texas Mom

Anonymous said...

Excellent essay. In the scale of things, Nifong's transgressions far outweigh those of Brodhead. If the new judge is honest and hard-working, as some said, it shouldn't take long to toss this out of court. Then watch Nifong and Brodhead squirm.

Anonymous said...

Being a leader is hard's much easier to take the weasel's way out, which is what both men did...neither man is a leader.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wellington has written a very good and pertinent essay. As a college professor, I see this kind of behavior in spades in academe. Notice that Brodhead was most fearful of offending the Group of 88 and all of the other PC constituencies.

To be honest, I suspect Brodhead would have preferred that the three athletes be guilty, as it would give much ammunition to the PC faculty and permit Brodhead to do the kind of moral strut that people like him often do. Instead, we are going to see him literally try to salvage some sort of condemnation of these athletes, even if they did not commit rape (which we know they did not).

As for Nifong, not only is he engaged in self-preservation, but the entire legal system in North Carolina will try to fall into line and try to let him and everyone else save face. We have seen this before in North Carolina. If there were any justice in that state, David Hoke would be behind bars serving time for attempted murder through his false and malicious prosecution of Alan Gell. Instead, he is the number two person administratively in the entire North Carolina judicial system. It boggles the mind, except that government employees look after each other. Truth has nothing to do with the court system in North Carolina, trust me.

Bill Anderson

Anonymous said...

I sit here with tears in my eyes. As the mother of a 21 year old son in college, this travesty has shook me to the core.

I can only imagine what Mr. Wellington and all the Duke LAX player's parents are going through.

Thank you Mr. Wellington. Thank you.

Marco2006 said...

You and your son have your integrity, something which Brodhead & Nifong lost long ago.

We are going to win this fight and then were are going to get Brodhead & Nifong fired!

Anonymous said...

Out of this all this ugliness,some true heros have emerged. First Dave Evans, with his remarkable speech professing his innocence and that of the other two indicted lacrosse players. And now Rob Wellington's letter. This is a young man who has already signed an affadavit about Seligmann, is prepared to be a witness at trial and who is returning to Duke.

Compare Evans and Wellington's actions to those of Brodhead and Nifong, men many years older and one would think wiser. Brodhead has shown himself to be a true coward. Brodhead was Dean at Yale when a student was murdered in 1999. After the mess he created then and doing his best to ruin Prof. James Vander Velte's career, one wonders how did he ever get hired at Duke?

Mike Nifong used the Duke Lacrosse Hoax case to win a primary at all costs and continues to stop at nothing under the aegis of the pursuit of justice.

The case stopped being about the accused victim long ago. Notice nobody ever mentions her anymore.

Thank you Mr. Wellington for a breath of fresh air amid all of this darkness.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best pieces I read on the Duke Lacrosse case, and trust me I have done a lot of reading. Mr. Wellington summarizes the situation quite well and accurately. I agree with all of his analysis 100 percent. The question is does Nifong or Brodhead really care about honesty, integrity, truth, or justice? Based on their actions so far, I suspect not. So, waiting for them to take any corrective action is futile. Some other force has to come into play here, if the three innocent young men are to get their lives back. We, all of us, are responsible for seeing to it that, whatever it might be, such a force/action/project/initiative is created. This injustice cannot be and should not be tolerated.

A Duke Friend

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I certainly understand Mr. Wellington's disappointment in Brodhead's statements and actions, failing to support or rally behind the team. However, I feel it is grossly unfair to equate what Brodhead has done to what Nifong has done.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that large institutions, and their heads, regularly ignore or sacrifice individuals where the image of the institution is threatened. It is not Brodhead's fear of losing his job that motivated him, it was fear of having Duke's image besmirched.

Institution heads never get out in front of a story, they always react. Brodhead reacted to the story, late coming to him because of poor communication from his administration staff, and studiously tried to steer a neutral course between the university forces pushing for more disciplinary action and those pointing to the positives of the team members' records. I doubt any university president would stick his neck out in favor of students accused of such a heinous crime. Condemn Brodhead for not transcending what university presidents usually do. Condemn him for not coming out for his students once the 1800 pages of prosecutor's evidence was released or even when the DNA results seemingly supported the players' story. Condemn him for not trumpeting the good record of the team. Condemn him for not publicly chastising the Group of 88's inflammatory ad. But don't lump him with Nifong.

Nifong clearly engaged in dishonest and unethical behavior for personal gain. That's a whole different ball of wax.

Anonymous said...

As I was reading all the post pertaining to the duke rape case.... I have this question.... Can you people imagine what the victim and her parents are going through also? It is not one sided here. Others are suffering too!!

This case will leave scars on many after it is over.

Anonymous said...

Is it time for bloggers to organize on this case? To expect Nifong or even the new judge to toss this out could be wishful thinking. Are there any attorneys out there (Judicial Watch) who would take up the case? The left has always used the law to its advantage. Could the left and right unite on this and come up with a strong legal case to challenge the status quo?

Anonymous said...

Well, Nifong maybe but I don't think it's fair to blame Duke president. after all, lacrosse boys had been acting like they were above anybodyelse. cmmon piss on neighbors yard? I know that doesn't mean they should be accused of something they didn't commit. But we should wait and see.

Anonymous said...

President Brodhead's rush to be politically correct rather than waiting for events to unfold illustrates what a professor friend of mine says--education is too important to be left to educators! Duke has prided itself in being innovative--how about firing Brodhead and bringing in a corporate LEADER (Jack Welch??) as CEO supported by an academic all-star as COO? Maybe then we could also stop the relentless rise in the cost of sending a student to Duke without sacrificing the quality of the education.

Anonymous said...

These guys were not innocent choir boys and that is a fact. There behavior was out of control. Are you people ignoring that?

Anonymous said...

Great article! Thanks.

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