In the wake of Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong’s dropping of rape charges against Collin Finnerty, David Evans, and Reade Seligmann — and keeping the kidnapping and sexual assault charges alive — I believe I need to make some statements about the case where it presently stands, and what to expect in the future.
First, and most important, Nifong dropped the charges not because he had "new evidence," but because the defense found out he had been illegally hiding "old evidence." Nifong had the same information in April that the defense finally received in December, and when it was made public, then the rogue prosecutor immediately claimed that the "victim" now could not remember some of the details of the "rape." Thus, he said he believed he no longer could "prove" rape, so he dropped those charges.
Second, his holding onto the kidnapping and sexual assault charges are also part of the Big Lie he has chosen to promote. Despite the claims by his supporters, like Irvin Joyner, the law professor at North Carolina Central University, that these charges do not require DNA and other such aspects of evidence, the same barriers remain.
First, he has to be able to place Finnerty, Seligmann, and Evans all in the bathroom alone with her at the same time. The evidence clearly does not point to that. Second, as for sexual assault, DNA still will play a role, as not one spec of DNA from the young men was ever found on her, despite the extensive "crime scene" investigation that police and hospital personnel carried out.
Second, the only person making the claim is the accuser herself, Crystal Gail Mangum. She has told a number of very different stories that have changed with each set of questions from investigators who surely from the start knew better than to believe her. This woman is not exactly a credible accuser, having lied to police about her sexual habits prior to the fateful party.
Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to admit the obvious. Take Sports Illustrated writer Lester Munson, who in the wake of the latest news wrote:
They (the defendants) still face some serious charges. There is little doubt that something unsavory happened at the party on March 13. After the dismissal of the rape charges, it will be easier for the accused players to attempt to settle everything with a guilty plea on lesser charges.
Here is a writer who still wants to believe that these "privileged, white" athletes at least attacked the woman even though the other evidence that has come about since last spring makes such an event so unlikely as to be impossible. He does not seem to understand that there is no basis for charges, other than Nifong’s desire to win an election and for the local black community of Durham, as well as a sizeable chunk of the Duke faculty to be able to exercise their prejudices.
However, when one examines the performances of members of the so-called mainstream media (or MSM) such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and the broadcast outlets, one finds that these were the organizations that from the start were the engines publicizing the false charges — and desperately trying to give them credibility. Even now, we see someone from the MSM trying to salvage something out of it.
I predict that this sorry case never will make it to trial, no matter what Munson and his other MSM colleagues believe. Nifong is not going to risk having his entire case rest upon a single witness who has lied from the first moment, and who never had real credibility. He will find a way to drop the other charges — and it will not occur because the players plead to misdemeanors.
The unfortunate thing is that people are going to have the impression that Nifong is a rogue prosecutor whose actions are unlike those of other prosecutors. I disagree, and disagree heartily. Nifong is a product of the mentality that governs the prosecutorial process in the United States today: Just win, and win at all costs.
Nifong may have some explaining to do, but I can guarantee you that he is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. One might hope that Americans will become more skeptical of prosecutors because of this case, but I, for one, continue to say that I am from Missouri.
December 23, 2006