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04-23-07, 04:29 PM #1
Closing The Door On the Duke Lacrosse Rape Claims
Closing The Door On the Duke Lacrosse Rape Claims: Why the Accuser Should Be Prosecuted, and The State Should Revamp the Way It Handles False Crime ReportsBy JONNA SPILBOR
Monday, Apr. 16, 2007
On April 11, nearly a year after three Duke lacrosse players were charged with rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that the charges were, in a word, a crock. After much harsh criticism of the prosecution and prosecutor - including a series of columns I wrote for this site -- the case was finally dismissed.
The decision, though late in coming, was exactly the right one. Moreover, not only did the Attorney General do the right thing, he also courageously refused to make excuses for what he admitted was a failure by Durham's District Attorney Mike Nifong to perform his duties properly.
However, Attorney General Cooper has not yet addressed the question that still hangs in the air: What is to become of the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum?...
...Now, Nifong is finally facing some consequences for his actions: He was charged with several ethics violations by the NC State Bar relating to his handling of the matter -- among them, withholding critical evidence from the defense. These serious charges remain pending - and could lead to his disbarment. Last Friday, April 13, a disciplinary committee rejected a request Friday to dismiss the charges.
But what about Mangum? Will she get off scot-free, despite her lies?
The Attorney General's Statement: A Clear Vindication of the Defendants
So far, Attorney General Cooper seems to have done everything right. First, his office looked carefully into the case for three months. Then, on April 11, as noted above, Cooper announced that all remaining charges against defendants Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were to be dismissed. Permanently.
But Cooper, in my view, needed to do a lot more than this: He also needed to tell the nation the defendants were innocent; that the accuser had lied; and that the D.A. had acted terribly. Given the egregious facts of this case, the standard prosecutorial lingo accompanying a dismissal -- "We are unable to prove the charges"--simply wouldn't be enough.
Fortunately, Cooper understood this. He stated that "Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges." (Emphasis added).
Moreover, Cooper laid the blame directly at D.A. Nifong's door, saying "We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations….
[W]ith the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. Later, Cooper also said, "This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor."
This was historic. Surely, such a candid government admission of D.A. misconduct, by a fellow prosecutor at that, will serve to restore some faith in a justice system that had seemed to go terribly awry.
Charges of False Reporting Should Be Brought Against the Accuser
Unfortunately, however, Cooper concluded his press conference without ever discussing whether or not there were to be consequences against the accuser herself. Indeed, he didn't even mention the accuser's name at the press conference - even though his own logic showed there was no longer any reason to protect it.
What Cooper said plainly implied that the accuser was guilty of lying to the authorities, and concocting a story about the three players. After all, if the players are innocent - as Cooper clearly stated was the case -- then it follows that the woman who accused is guilty: guilty of lying to authorities about who raped her.
Based on the evidence made public in this case, moreover, it seems overwhelmingly likely that she also lied about whether any rape ever occurred. This is no case of mistaken identity; the accuser's story of what happened that night had blatant inconsistencies in many other areas as well. That's why Attorney General Cooper also noted that "we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night."
Falsely reporting rape - or any crime - is itself a crime. Typically, filing a false report is merely a misdemeanor (an inadequate consequence for falsely reporting any crime, in my opinion). Yet even a misdemeanor prosecution here would at least send a message of some accountability - and might actually bring to public attention the under-punishment of false reporting, so that state statutes might be changed.
The Accuser Must Be Punished, And the System Needs to Be Examined Too
In addition to directing that charges be brought against Mangum, Attorney General Cooper also had another proposal. He proposed "a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands."
Fair enough. But there can be no justice here unless charges are also brought against the accuser.
It's not just about punishing one person for a very serious misdeed - though that is surely important, given the devastating impact on the three defendant's lives. It's also about the way her lies will wrongly be used by some to question the veracity of genuine victims of rape. Protecting Crystal Mangum isn't protecting a victim; it's making every future victim more vulnerable, in the prosecutor's office and in the courtroom, to being wrongly disbelieved.
Thus, Crystal Mangum not only wronged the three defendants, but also all the women in this world who ever have been truly victimized, or who, sadly but unavoidably, one day will be. These are the unseen victims of Duke.
The law already allows those who falsely report crimes to be punished. I can't imagine a better case for invoking it than this one. Moreover, because - as Attorney General Cooper noted - this case involves systemic problems, not just one rogue prosecutor, it's time for an investigation.
Why didn't someone working with D.A. Nifong resign over it? Why did a DNA expert accept D.A. Nifong's instruction to provide a partial and misleading DNA report - one that not only reflected no DNA match with the defendants, but also reflected DNA matches with other men, matches kept secret by Nifong? More generally, why was a false report believed so long in the D.A.'s office, despite numerous indications it was false?
Until we have answers to these questions, we will not have truly closed the Duke lacrosse case - and we will have no assurance that this kind of travesty won't repeat itself, in North Carolina or elsewhere.
"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly. - Lovelace
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.
04-23-07, 04:50 PM #2GrasshopperVerified LEO
- Join Date
- Rep Power
Hate to bust this guys bubble, but it does repeat itself. On a fairly regular basis.And Shepards we shall be,
for thee, My Lord, for thee,
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy Command.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
And teeming with souls will it ever be.
In Nomine Patris, Et Filli, Et Spiritus Sancti.
04-23-07, 04:56 PM #3
sad thing is what would they get even out of civil lawsuit against the bitch... she owns nothing...
oh -- they can be her new pimp daddys till she pays it up...
anyway, sad but this type of thing will happen again someplace else if not the same place... i do agree.http://www.allpoetry.com/Grunts%20Girl
We dallied under
Vine maples and sapling alders
Searched for lady slippers
Found blackberry riots and
An old skid road
Brought ghost ferns and
Hollows filled with
While waves wrapped
Intricate lacings of weeds
'Round mule spinners
His cyanotic eyes
Were hard enough to make
The sun turn tail and
Tender enough to attract me
To his world of illusion
04-23-07, 05:10 PM #4
More info on the accuser: http://johnsville.blogspot.com/2006/...il-mangum.html
Suspects: college kids without any criminal history to my knowledge, their names were quickly given to the media
Accuser: woman with a criminal history that worked for an 'escort service'; criminal history where she stole a car from a lapdance patron (is that the proper term) while DWI, led the police on a pursuit, then attempted to run over the police officer; she made a prior rape allegation that she didn't follow through on
Evidence: her verbal accusation, which was not even corroborated by her friend (the other stripper)
Crystal Gail Mangum 07/16/1978
It's terrible that the media burned those students for so long, and it was even more sickening that the prosecutor kept at it even though there was evidence coming to light that the allegations were false. I doubt it will happen but Mangum should be charged with filing a false report.
Last edited by HudsonHawk; 04-23-07 at 05:14 PM.
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