It has been 18 months since I last wrote an open letter to you, and at that time I was hoping that the State of North Carolina, having done the wrong thing for more than a year, would try to make things right. I really did want to believe it, seeing your strong and unequivocal performance the day in April 2007 when you dismissed the charges, declaring that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans were "innocent."
Yet, here I am writing another letter because you permitted a number of people who openly broke the law to walk away without a scratch, even while three young men and their families were forced to pay millions of dollars to defend themselves against charges that were transparently false. Furthermore, you permitted two sociopaths, Michael B. Nifong and Crystal Gail Mangum, the accuser, to walk away unharmed.
Well, Mr. Cooper, today Mangum "thanked" you for all your hard work. She held a press conference to publicize her new book, Last Dance for Grace, which is a collection of lies that you instantly will recognize. The usual media suspects were there, as well as people from the North Carolina NAACP, which had so desperately tried to keep the Big Lie alive even after you announced the charges were false.
Guess what, Mr. Cooper? Crystal claims that she was sexually assaulted and, no, she did not change her story one bit. Furthermore, she did not look like someone who was having yet another psychotic episode, as you and the media wanted to portray her when you declared you would not seek charges against her. After all, who could not feel sympathy for someone who is psychotic and not in control of herself?
Certainly, the families of the indicted players did not want to sue Crystal or have her prosecuted for the misdemeanor of filing a false report. After all, who wanted to be seen as going after a psychotic woman who claimed she was levitating (one of her stories) while being raped? When nearly 40 other lacrosse families filed suit against Nifong, Durham, and Duke University this past year, Crystal’s name was missing from those suits as well.
As far as I am concerned, you made a huge mistake in not charging Crystal. She is no poor, psychotic woman; she is a sociopath, just like Nifong. Neither she nor the former disgraced prosecutor have attempted to tell the truth, but have spun even more lies, which is pretty much in line with how sociopaths generally act. In fact, Nifong has supporters who have decided that not only was the case legitimate, but your criticisms of him were politically motivated, as you decided to help guilty, white, rich boys get away with rape. If you don’t believe me, just read the Nifong website. (I think you especially will like the cartoons which depict you as a tool of the rich and guilty, not to mention the "Nifong Manifesto.")
During the press conference, someone asked you if you were going to investigate further into the case, and you said that you might. About six months later, however, you decided to punt the case to the U.S. Department of (In)Justice, which decided it would punt, too. When you asked the DO(In)J to investigate, you declared that North Carolina did not have a grand jury mechanism by which to dig into the case.
Now, that is really interesting to me. You had no problem bringing in two special prosecutors, Mary Winstead and James Coman, to investigate the rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping charges in the lacrosse case. Are you telling me that the office of attorney general for the State of North Carolina lacks the legal ability to investigate crimes? Something simply does not ring true.
Furthermore, there were plenty of people and plenty of crimes to investigate. Let us start with Crystal. Forget about the misdemeanor charge of filing a false report; here was someone who took thousands of dollars from the state "victim’s fund" and supported her lifestyle. One cannot take thousands of dollars fraudulently (unless one is an elected politician or a good friend of the elected politician).
What about "lying to investigators"? When she had her interview with Winstead and Coman, she made up a cock-and-bull story about being "levitated" while Reade, Collin, and David were busy raping her (and then she was assaulted by 20 lacrosse players after that). Now, you and the others dismissed it to her being psychotic, but a friend of mine who also is a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) tells me that she believes Crystal saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to come up with a whopper. (As my friend told me, "She might be crazy, but crazy like a fox.")
Speaking of SANEs, there is the problem of Tara Levicy, the SANE (or, SANE-in-training) who was not legally qualified to do the rape exam of Crystal Mangum, yet signed the examination form as the one who did the exam, even though it was performed by Dr. Julie Manly. Moreover, Robert Ekstrand, the attorney representing three of the families that are suing Duke, Durham, and Nifong, has written in the formal complain that Levicy "fabricated" material on the medical charts.
If what he says is true, then he is alleging that Tara Levicy committed a felony under North Carolina state law. Furthermore, she had some partners-in-crime, namely Nifong and members of the Durham Police Department. It is a felony to lie to a grand jury, but that is what Ben Himan and Mark Gottlieb did when they secured indictments against the three young men. Himan even admitted as much during his testimony to the North Carolina State Bar in 2007.
Then there is Nifong, Mike Nifong, the person who continues to mock you and who claims that you "whitewashed" the investigation. Are you telling us that there are no statutes in the law books of North Carolina that don’t cover his actions? A prosecutor is free to make up whatever he wants, continually change his stories, lie to judges and everyone else, and then go scot-free? You are telling us that that there is nothing you can do after the fact?
By the way, your inaction against the perpetrators of these felonies has meant they could get on with their lives. True, Nifong was disbarred, but he is receiving his pension and so far he has been able to weasel out of the lawsuits by declaring bankruptcy. As for Himan, he currently is working for the police department of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. A reporter who looked at Himan’s recommendations from Durham told me that there was nothing about the lacrosse case in his files.
That is interesting. Here is someone who refused even to look at the exculpatory evidence that Reade Seligmann’s defense had in its files, yet then demanded that Seligmann be prosecuted for "obstruction of justice" for making the information public. (Nifong did not follow Himan’s suggestion, but nonetheless you can see that Himan was willing to use his authority for nefarious and illegal purposes — and you have let him walk.)
Mark Gottlieb was permitted to "retire" from the Durham police, Linwood Wilson, who clearly was strong-arming witnesses and trying to force them to sign false affidavits, also has avoided investigation. Levicy left Durham and now is practicing her nursing profession in New Hampshire, even though dozens of complaints were filed against her to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, which has refused even to open a complaint file against her.
All this tells me that the fix was in. Drop the charges, and no one has to worry about a thing. Mr. Cooper, these charges were a transparent lie, and you knew that from the very first day you met with the attorneys for the defense. There should have been no bargaining at all. None. False charges have no place — no place — in the halls of justice, and either you stand for justice or you do not.
It is true that all of the people (and others) are facing lawsuits, but Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans were facing perhaps the rest of their lives in prison, and had Nifong been able to move this thing to trial, he almost certainly would have won a conviction with a jury from Durham. The only thing that kept these lies from trial was a one-vote margin on the committee of the NC State Bar that voted to charge Nifong with ethical violations while the case still was proceeding. And don’t forget that Nifong had promised to charge every lacrosse player at Duke with covering up the rape, which would have carried the same legal penalties as one receives for rape and sexual assault. Every player and every member of his family had to fear for their very lives, and you tell me that you are helpless to investigate?
What all of this tells me is that the authorities in North Carolina watch out for their own. Other people — and they are legion, as you know — can be falsely charged and convicted in North Carolina, but when people with the right political and governmental connections break the law openly and with impunity, they are sacrosanct. Why don’t you ask Betsy Kelly or Darryl Hunt what it is like to spend years in a North Carolina prison for crimes they never committed?
So, all I can say is that there is unfinished business. It was Crystal Mangum and her people who chose to come out of the closet and go public with their charges. It was Michael Nifong who told his supporters that you were a liar and a crook. You gave both of them every chance and still they insist on lying. Perhaps it is time to do justice in North Carolina, for Lady Justice has been asleep there for many years. It is time that she be awakened.
October 24, 2008
William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services.