According to the pundits, the time is coming that prosecutors finally drop the remaining charges of the Duke Non-Rape, Non-Kidnapping, and Non-Sexual assault case. Perhaps that is the case, but three young men, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans, have lived with these false charges for 11 months, so the question really should not be "When will the charges be dropped?" Instead, it should be, "Why were they filed in the first place?"
While attending the Austrian Scholars Conference a couple of weeks ago, I found myself holding a number of impromptu sessions with people interested in the case. During one session, a woman asked me if there was not a possibility that the three men really were guilty. My answer to her did not seem to convince her, as she seemed to be of the belief that if one is charged by the state, such action automatically confers guilt.
Now, I should add that she seemed to be only one of two people to whom I spoke who was in disbelief, the other a former prosecutor who also was skeptical of what I was saying. Part of the reason for his skepticism, I would think, was that when he was in office, he tried to be honest, and figured that Michael B. Nifong and the police at worst might have been overzealous. A man in his position, who would not think of framing someone, might find it hard to believe that Nifong would present a bogus case from beginning to end.
The retired prosecutor’s words notwithstanding, it is even clearer today that this case is not one of overzealousness; it is one of dishonesty, extreme dishonesty. To make that point, it is necessary to recall some of the things that happened in the early weeks of the case.
The late Kirk Osborn, in an email sent to me last year, reminded me of how the saga began:
Mangum did not assert the rape allegation until she was taken from the Kroger parking lot to Durham Access (the cops who found her at Kroger believed she met the criteria for involuntary commitment — that she was a substance abuser and was dangerous to herself or others). It wasn’t until she realized that she was to be committed that she alleged rape. Sgt. Shelton, the officer who found her at Kroger, was called by the officer who transported her to Durham Access. That officer informed Shelton of the rape allegation. Shelton told him to take her to Duke University Hospital. Shelton then went to Duke Hospital and confronted Mangum about her allegations. Mangum recanted and said some men groped her but no one forced her to have sex. Shelton called his watch supervisor to inform him of the recantation. Thereafter, Shelton learned that Mangum was telling the S.A.N.E. Doctor that she was raped.
From there, the rape investigation began, starting with the physical examination of Mangum’s body. Her story contrasted directly with the DNA evidence that came from the examination. (She claimed to have been beaten with fists, and that her attackers did not use condoms and ejaculated. No DNA — not one cell — from any of the lacrosse players, including the three young men charged, was found on her, despite the fact that the tests were ultra-sensitive. However, the labs did find the DNA of seven other men in the "sexual" areas of her body, despite her claim that she had not engaged in sex with anyone else for at least a week.)
Soon, the Durham Police Department was openly alleging that the lacrosse players beat, strangled, and gang-raped Mangum. According to the Raleigh News & Observer:
“We’re asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward,” Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. “We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime.”
He emphasized the seriousness of the accusations — first-degree rape, kidnapping, assault by strangulation and robbery.
Details of the accusations were made public this week in a warrant authorizing a search of the three-bedroom rental house where the attack is alleged to have taken place.
The accuser spoke Friday, struggling not to cry as she recounted the events of the early hours of March 14 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., next to Duke’s East Campus.
It is The News & Observer’s policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes.
Elsewhere, in an infamous "Crimestoppers" poster of 43 of the Duke lacrosse players, Addison declared that Mangum was raped, strangled, sodomized, and robbed. Yet, the medical report taken at Duke University hospital said that her anal area was "normal," which clearly would not have been the case had she been "sodomized." In other words, police were telling whoppers from the start.
So, according to the N&O, these were not just accusations; they were fact. Yet, there is something that readers should know, and that is by the time this story appeared March 25, 2006, police and Nifong already knew that these things had not happened. I will repeat what I said: they already knew it was a lie. I say "knew," not "thought."
My "Exhibit A" is seen below. The picture on the left is Mangum, police having taken this picture on March 16, 2006, just two days after she supposedly had been raped, beaten, and strangled. The picture on the right comes from her high school yearbook, taken about 1999 or 2000.
The reason I call attention to these photographs is that it is abundantly clear that the woman on the left shows no bruises, swelling, or marks on her neck that would demonstrate strangulation. When one compares her face on the left with her face on the right, there is nothing out of the ordinary in the comparison, no bruises, swelling, or other marks that would have been put there in an assault.
Yet, the Durham Herald-Sun, which more than any other newspaper, save perhaps the New York Times, has enabled this prosecution, declares that she really was beaten. According to the H-S:
…the accuser’s parents hinted that their daughter may welcome the charges being dropped.
“She had told me once before she was tired of it and she wished she could just get it over with,” the accuser’s father said, “She hates that she ever reported it.”
While he still believes wholeheartedly his daughter was brutally raped and assaulted on the night of March 13, 2006 — he recalls in vivid detail his daughter’s swollen eyes and cut arms — he said his daughter has at least once mentioned regrets about having ever made the accusations in the first place.
I include this last sentence because the reporter is not quoting the woman’s father, Travis Mangum. She is stating as a matter of physical fact that the woman had "swollen eyes and cut arms." Yet, as we see from the picture, there are no "swollen eyes," and the medical report said nothing about "cut arms." In other words, the H-S literally made up these reported injuries from whole cloth.
Yet, there is more. From a recent Liestoppers post, we read:
A source has provided ESPN with a detailed account of the exotic dancer’s arrival at the hospital the night of the alleged sexual assault at a party thrown by members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team.
…The source says the woman entered the hospital well after midnight March 13 wearing a red nightgown and nothing on her feet. She was walking on her own, but there were bruises on her face, neck, and arms.
Defense lawyers have argued that the written medical reports do not support the charge of rape. But in addition to the nurse’s oral description of injuries consistent with the allegation, Sergeant Gottlieb writes that the accuser appeared to be in extreme pain when he interviewed her two and a half days after the incident, and that signs of bruises emerged then as well.
…During that interview, the woman, who is dark skinned, said bruises were beginning to show from the attack. A female officer took photographs and confirmed that ”she had the onset of new bruises present,” Sergeant Gottlieb wrote.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: You said you saw bruises on her face. Where were they?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right up on the eyes and the jaw (INAUDIBLE)
“Tears ran down her face freely and her nose began to run.” Gottlieb noted that “the victim stated she had bruising that was beginning to show up from the assault,” 60 hours after the party. He ordered Investigator R.A. Reid to take photographs, and noted that “Reid stated she had the onset of new bruises present.”
“Well, she (INAUDIBLE) like she was in a lot of pain, and her face was swolled up. She had bruises on her eyes. And she just looked awful, and you look at her, you could tell she had been beaten up.” MSNBC
“The father went home and waited for word from his daughter. Later that morning, she came to her parents’ house with her boyfriend….After she came home, that’s when I knew she had been beaten up,” her father said.”
The father of the woman who said she was raped at a party near the Duke University campus said in an interview Tuesday that when he saw her the day after the party, her eyes and face were swollen, her arms were scratched, and she was complaining about her leg. She told him she thought some part of her leg had slipped out of joint, he said. The woman told her father that she had been dancing at a party and that someone had hit her. It wasn’t until the next day the woman told her father she had been raped, he said. “I think she was ashamed. … I just felt numb, angry,” the father said.
At this point, we need to keep in mind that the journalists a year ago were lapping up what the police and Michael Nifong were telling them. Yet, every police officer who has been on the job for a while knows how someone looks when that person has been severely beaten and strangled. Moreover, the notion that the bruises came about only after March 16 is laughable. (Police never did get around to taking any pictures of Crystal Mangum after March 16 that would demonstrate bruises. They used the picture I have shown above as their proof that the things that were alleged actually had occurred.)
Furthermore, soon after March 16, Mangum went to the University of North Carolina hospital emergency room looking for painkillers, yet the medical report from that says that while she claimed to be experiencing pain at a level 10 of a 1—10 scale, the personnel did not observe bruises or any other kinds of physical trauma. And there is more.
In the first "60 Minutes" report last October, a clip of Mangum doing a pole dance at a local strip club was shown. What significant about the film is that it was taken 12 days after Mangum claimed to have been raped, beaten, sodomized, and strangled. Police and Nifong still were claiming at that time that she was still in great pain. The flexible woman in the film does not exactly exhibit the injuries that such an assault, especially made by three strong, young athletes, would imply.
One also would think that police and prosecutors, when confronted by the March 16 picture of Mangum, would stop alleging that she had been beaten and strangled. Yet, all of the statements made by Nifong and the police came after March 16. The picture to the right is one of Nifong demonstrating to an MSNBC television audience on March 30, 2006, how the young men "strangled" Mangum.
Please do not take my words that these things are bogus. The following comes from Kathleen Eckelt, who has been examining rape victims as an expert nurse investigator for more than two decades:
On the surface, it looks like a photograph of a normal, NON-INJURED female. Just looking at it, I’d say this is not the face of someone who has been recently beaten. Let me explain why:
First of all, consider the type of crime it [supposedly] was. The accuser claimed she was violently beaten and choked. If it was a right handed male who did the hitting, he’s usually going to swiftly, angrily swing his right fist up and hit the outer right* side of her face — either up at the eye area or in the mouth. If he is left-handed, it will be the opposite.
FYI: A woman will usually hit with an open hand; a male with either the back of his hand or a closed fist. The open hand usually indicates that the person is hitting out of pain. Someone has said something to hurt them and they slap them back. The back of the hand against a woman’s face is immediate control and domination. The closed fist is rage. They are out to hurt somebody. When a male fist connects with the soft tissue of a female’s face, it can do some serious damage.
When a woman has been beaten on the face, we expect to find bruises, abrasions, and/or lacerations, primarily on one side of the face. You can have injuries on both sides but they won’t be identical. You wouldn’t expect to see two injuries exactly alike from this type of beating.
If she has been beaten around the eyes, you would expect to see redness and swelling almost immediately, no matter what race the person is.
Her comments are devastating to the prosecution of this case, but might be helpful to the prosecution of the police involved and Nifong himself. I will repeat what I said earlier: the police and prosecutors knew that nothing had occurred, and that this case was a lie. Yet, not only did they hide evidence, something that came to light at the "tipping point" hearing on December 15, 2006, but they also faked evidence in their reports, claiming that Mangum had injuries that clearly she did not have. Because police reports are considered evidence in the investigation of a crime, we have a number of instances in which police wrote false statements in their reports, which is no different than "planting evidence" at the scene of the crime.
We are dealing with people who apparently were willing to stop at nothing to frame three young men of a "crime" that never happened. Today, the special prosecutors, James Coman and Mary Winstead, and their boss, Roy Cooper, still continue the fiction that Crystal Gail Mangum was "kidnapped" and "sexually assaulted."
While the special prosecutors claim that they simply are giving the case a thorough examination, all they have to do is to look at the March 16 picture of Mangum to know that the entire thing has been a lie. Should they choose to perpetuate the lie, then they can be assured that writers like K.C. Johnson, Joan Foster, the Liestoppers, Johnsville News, La Shawn Barber, Michael Gaynor, and many others, including me, will not rest until justice is done. We are not going away.
March 28, 2007