Building off a Liestoppers post on the accuser displaying 24 of the 29 indicators of false accusations, at Forensics Talk, Kathleen Eckelt’s latest interesting post tackles the issue of statement analysis—a technique, she explains, “of examining a person’s words to see exactly what they’re saying.”
Eckelt links to a detailed analysis of statements in the case from Mark McClish, a 22-year veteran of federal law enforcement whose résumé includes eight years instructing interviewing techniques at the
1.) The accuser’s responses to photos of Dave Evans and Reade Seligmann in the April 4 lineup.
The Evans transcript:
A. “He looks like one of the guys who assaulted me sort.”
Q. “Ok. How um, how sure of it are you on this image?”
A. “He looks just like him without the mustache.”
Q. “Ok, so the person had a mustache?”
Q. “Percentage wise, what is the likelihood this is one of the gentlemen who assaulted you?”
A. “About 90%.”
As McClish notes, “she cannot positively identify the man in photo #4 when she states, ‘he looks like one of the guys.’ She also uses the word ‘sort’ which may be referencing the guy (He sort of looked like one of the guys.) or she could be referencing the assault. (Who sort of assaulted me.) She is ‘about 90%’ certain he was one of the guys who assaulted her. She said he had a mustache on the night of the assault but the attorney for this defendant claims his client never wore a mustache”—and, moreover, that he has contemporaneous photographs to prove so.
The Seligmann transcript:
A. “He looks like one of they guys who assaulted
“Again,” McClish comments, “she uses the same language ‘he looks like one of the guys.’” It’s worth remembering that this transcript is the only evidence used to indict Seligmann, who was either on the phone, in a cab, or in a video a mile away at the time of the alleged attack.
Q. “How did he assault you? Which one was he?”
A. “He was the one standing in front of me. Um, that made me perform oral sex on him.”
McClish observes, “When the word ‘standing’ appears in a statement it is often a sign of tension and possible deception. This is not an absolute just an indication.”
In general, according to McClish, the transcript of the photo lineup does not read like someone telling the truth. He contends,
Her language is consistent in that she always refers to the men as “guys” and she always uses the word “assaulted” to describe what happened. However, she does not positively identify three of the men that she claims assaulted her. Out of the photo line up, there were 17 men she recognized as being at the party. Four of them she says assaulted her. All 13 of the other men she appears to positively identify with statements such as “He was sitting on the couch in front of the television.” “He was standing outside talking to the other dancer.” “He was in the master bedroom.” “He was there. He had on some brown shorts, kaki shorts.” Yet, in identifying her attackers she uses non-committal language.
And, of course, we know now that the only player the accuser twice identified, with 100 percent certainty, as attending the party wasn’t even in
2.) The Number Three
“When deceptive people have to come up with a number,” McClish writes, “they will often choose the number three.” Three certainly seems to be the accuser’s number of choice for making allegations: as McClish comments, “We have a lot of threes in this case.”
- After toying with five, zero, and possibly 20 as the number of people who allegedly raped her, the accuser settled on three.
- She said that the attack lasted 30 minutes (later revised down by Nifong when the assertion of his “reliable” witness couldn’t fit any possible timeline).
- She claimed that three other players grabbed the second dancer at the start of the rape. The second dancer was never asked about this assertion—which she said didn’t happen—and supervising investigator Nifong appears never to have investigated it, even though his “reliable” witness was effectively charging three more players as accomplices to rape.
- Ten years ago, the accuser claimed that she had been gang-raped by three other people—a charge that she then never pursued.
In her own post, Eckelt adds several items of note. “When we are wrongly accused of something,” she observes, “our emotions soar. We become highly indignant. We intend to prove our innocence. A truthful person who becomes a suspect in a criminal investigation is very quick to demand a lie detector test”—much like the captains on March 16th. Of course, their sharing that information with Duke administrators appears to have done little or nothing to suggest to the administrators that their own students were telling the truth.
Second, Eckelt lists some characteristics of a deceptive witness, which include: “defensive”; “will be quiet; afraid he will say something to get him in trouble”; “noncommittal in response”; “guarded about what they tell you”; “defeated; slumps head forward.”
These characteristics sound a lot like the description of the accuser given by Mike Nifong in the October court hearing. The accuser was sullen (she spoke barely 15 words in the meeting, according to Nifong); struggled to establish eye contact; and seemed “on the verge of tears.”
Finally, Eckelt terms statement analysis a useful technique because “it’s based on the principle that people do not lie. Most people want to tell the truth. Even liars will tell a partial truth. It’s easier to tell a partial truth than to completely fabricate a statement. They just won’t tell the whole truth.”
Perhaps the clearest example of this pattern came in the accuser’s recollection that one attacker told her he was soon getting married. According to reports, she made this claim at various points in the process.
“Even liars will tell a partial truth,” reminds Eckelt. This seemingly small lie suggests intent to deceive by the accuser. On the surface, the claim is incredible, even bizarre. But if, as she believed, she actually had danced at a bachelor party, the claim would have enhanced the credibility of the major lie.
Alas, the accuser couldn’t keep her small lie straight—sometimes Matt was the bachelor; at other times Adam had the honor. Had the supervising investigator been interested in testing the accuser’s credibility, this discrepancy might have been just the item to which he would have paid attention. But, of course, the supervising investigator had a primary campaign to win.