A few updates.
Crystal Mangum’s bail, for charges of attempted murder, arson, and child endangerment, was reduced to $250,000. As one of the most astute observers of the case commented to me privately, a notable aspect of this affair is that, by filing severe charges against her, the Durham Police Department is no longer willing to afford Mangum the special treatment she so consistently received in the lacrosse case.
Mangum’s patron and “co-author,” Vincent Clark, appears to have noticed this as well: he sniffed to WRAL that “we hope that the courts will adjudicate this case with fairness and without bias.” (In the mind of Clark, it looks as if Nifong's decision to violate rules on behalf of Mangum constitutes the system acting fairly.) Clark also wildly suggested that Mangum had suffered from unidentified “past injustices.”
In Newsweek on-line, Susannah Meadows, who covered the case extensively, correctly observes, “I am sorry to say that I wasn't at all surprised by the most recent events.” Mangum, of course, has a long history of mental illness. And, as Meadows observes, “There were so many different versions of events that her statements took on an air of absurdity. She came off as more pathetic than conniving” (quite unlike, for instance, Nifong).
Meadows also contends that “though the case ended, the sadness that the scandal incidentally exposed remains unresolved. Remember that racial slur? When the two black strippers left the lacrosse party in a huff, a white freshman on the lacrosse team yelled out to them, ‘Thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt!; Case or no case, the epithet still hangs in the air.”
Indeed it does. So, too, does the Group of 88’s statement. But unlike the student who uttered the racial epithet, the Group of 88 has, if anything, only tightened its vise over Duke’s humanities and (some) social sciences departments in the wake of the affair.
Two instances of false or dismissed rape allegations. The New York Post brings the story of a woman sent to prison for lying about a rape—a lie that led to an innocent man being sentenced to 20 years in jail. It’s inconceivable to me that Mangum could have been convicted of such an offense—she could have claimed mental illness, or she could have suggested that, as the DPD and the county’s “minister of justice” believed her, the story she told was credible. But the sentence is a reminder of just how unusual it is for false accusers—in a crime where the word of a false accuser can be enough to merit a decades-long sentence—to be prosecuted for their lies.
On another front, the Sacred Heart lacrosse case, which prompted several publications to write, as fact, that the “victim” was a “girl”? It turns out that, legally, there was no “victim” at all. All charges have been dropped.
Finally, I’ve little doubt that only the truest of true believers, scattered hacks who want to rehabilitate Mike Nifong, and those with high tolerance for what Dave Evans once termed “fantastic lies” monitor the “justice4nifong” site. I count myself in the latter category.
That said, the site remains the closest thing we have to the unvarnished thinking of Nifong. The committee members that nominally supervise the site consist of Nifong’s closest followers, and have admitted that they’re in contact with Nifong himself.
With that in mind, it’s been interesting to see a sudden, even abrupt, change in the “Nifong party line” over the last couple of weeks. The previous party line amounted to: Mike Nifong’s an ethical guy, a rape probably occurred, the lacrosse players are awful racists, and the State Bar mistreated him. These beliefs still animate the site. But nonetheless, sometime between a post on February 7, 2010 and February 16, 2010, the party line shifted.
The site escalated its personal attacks on the State Bar prosecutors. It magnified its claim that Nifong didn’t benefit from the case politically. More intriguingly, it suddenly started homing in on Rae Evans, to an extent far greater than previously. And, again, to a much greater extent than before, it suddenly started highlighting an alleged plot between CBS News(!) and the special prosecutors/AG’s office.
I’m not aware of anything that occurred in the case between February 7, 2010 and February 16, 2010 to cause Nifong and his acolytes to suddenly focus on demonizing Rae Evans and CBS News, or to suddenly challenge, in minute detail, the DHC’s conclusion that political concerns motivated Nifong.
The new party line, alas, is no more convincing than the old party line was, and would persuade only those in Nifong’s closest circle and the hacks who accept Nifong’s rationalizations as credible.