Recently by William L. Anderson: Civility…or Servitude?
Many readers will remember the infamous Duke Lacrosse case of five years ago when Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong falsely charged three lacrosse players from Duke University with rape. What made the case extraordinary, however, were not the charges per se, but the fact that they were transparently false, and yet the mainstream media and the Duke administration and much of its vaunted faculty ignored the evidence to proclaim that they were true.
In the end, the case fell apart because Nifong was caught lying, and the accuser, a prostitute named Crystal Mangum couldn't keep her stories straight. (And there is even much more that has not been told that many of us know, including how Mangum came to choose these particular three players, but that is something for another article.)
Nifong was disbarred in 2007 and even served a day in jail for lying to a judge, although the Bush administration blocked any further criminal investigations of Nifong and others who took part in what clearly was a frame. (Durham police officials and a nurse employed by Duke University Medical Center fabricated documents and other statements in order to bolster the case, but in the end it fell apart and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared the players to be "innocent" of all charges.)
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The aftermath of this case, however, will not die, and the government has decided that it has not victimized these young men and their families enough, so the Obama administration's Internal Revenue Service has loudly announced that it has levied a $6.5 million lien on the assets of Reade Seligmann, one of the three people originally charged. According to the IRS, Seligmann paid no taxes on a settlement that he and the two others received from Duke in 2007.
Not surprisingly, the media has jumped on this one in an attempt to promote an "Aha!" atmosphere. "See, we TOLD you these were dangerous people!" The worst offender has been the Detroit News, which screamed out in a headline: "Controversial ex-Duke lacrosse player owes IRS $6.5M; lawyer calls it mistake."
The New York Daily News, which from the start of the case was pro-Nifong until it no longer could stand behind the lying DA, was not much better with its blaring headline: "IRS claims former Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann owes millions, lawyer says bill is mistake." The Raleigh News & Observer, which was ground zero for the outright false and misleading stories when the case first broke, jumped on the story as well, including an inflammatory quote from a local tax lawyer, Jack Cummings:
“You’ve got enough zeros there that somebody has bound to have thought about it and decided that they didn’t owe any tax,” Cummings said. There are tax exemptions for some financial settlements, though probably not this type, he explained.
As you can see, the mainstream media wants readers to believe that maybe (only just maybe) Reade Seligmann was not a rapist, but he is a tax cheat, and that should give us pause as to the first set of charges against him. We knew it all along! He is an arrogant guy who got away with rape and just decided that paying taxes was beneath him!
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Because mainstream reporters seem to be incapable of doing even basic research, depending, instead, upon whatever pronouncements come from government agencies, there are a number of questions and issues that I will bring to the fore that have been ignored by the vaunted journalists. This first is this: Reade Seligmann did not even receive $6.5 million in his settlement with Duke, so the media and the IRS are claiming that he owes more taxes than what he received in the first place in 2007. (Granted, a lot of journalists want the USA to be more like Sweden, which once taxed author Astrid Lindgren at 102 percent.)
Yes, the settlement was secret, but people talk, and the information was not difficult to find. Furthermore, as Reade's attorney Jim Cooney has noted, Seligmann did pay taxes on what he received from Duke. Keep in mind that Cooney not only is a well-known and well-respected attorney whom I know well, but also was recently recommended for a position on the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (someone else received the nomination from the Obama administration). In other words, Jim Cooney's words carry a lot of weight, and when the N&O implied in its story that he was lying, we can see once again that getting an important story straight is not important to that newspaper.
So, why would the IRS publicly go after Reade Seligmann, especially if he can prove that the agency is wrong? No doubt, the story that will be spun is that there was some bumbling in the bowels of the IRS and that someone just made an honest mistake, and the agency is sorry for its error, blah, blah, blah. Such an explanation will fly with the media, which will protect the agency at all costs.
However, there is much more to the story of Reade Seligmann and the aftermath of the Duke Lacrosse case that makes people like me suspicious of what has happened. Let me explain.
Although Duke settled with Seligmann, David Evans, and Collin Finnerty, the three have filed suit against Nifong and Durham. Furthermore, a number of other former Duke lacrosse players have filed suit against the university for its reprehensible conduct and for its alleged complicity with Nifong and the Durham police. They also have filed suit against Nifong and Durham.
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The players filed suit in federal court more than three years ago, but so far nothing has happened, as Duke has managed to keep the whole thing at bay. Duke's lead attorney is Jamie Gorelick, one of the most important Democratic operatives in Washington and who served as the number two person in the Clinton administration's Department of Justice. If there is a prominent Democrat or Democratic entity in need of a fixer, Gorelick often comes to the rescue.
While Duke is a private university, it also is a major player in the Democratic Party, both nationally and in North Carolina. Furthermore, Durham is the most important base for the North Carolina Democratic Party and if ever there was a one-party entity, it is Durham, which is one of the most hard-left municipalities in the country.
For example, Terry Sanford was president of Duke before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 (and he served as a Democratic governor of North Carolina before coming to Duke). John Burness, Duke's general "fixer" in Durham and someone who made vicious and dishonest off-the-record comments to reporters during the lacrosse case (which was one of the reasons that Duke's lawyers felt compelled to settle with the three falsely-accused lacrosse players), is returning to his position as a prominent Democratic Party lobbyist in Washington.
(The corpulent Burness has just finished serving a term as interim president of Franklin and Marshall College. Burness is proof that at least in politics and at Duke University, no dishonest deed goes unrewarded. Other faculty members and administrators that acted in an especially reprehensive manner during the lacrosse case since then have been promoted and honored, which demonstrates that while Duke's motto, “Eruditio et Religio” [Knowledge and Faith] should be changed to "We Reward Lying" or maybe the more informal, "Lies u2018R Us.")
It is no accident, then, that Duke hired someone like Gorelick, and the fact that the case has been dead in the water for three years seems to be proof that the university and its political partners, the City of Durham and Durham County, have received good services from their outside legal counsel. This latest incident involving Reade Seligmann only heightens the suspicion that this is not an act of mistaken zeros by a bumbling IRS agent, but rather a concerted effort to discredit someone that North Carolina Democrats see as a political enemy.
What Duke University and Durham, along with the mainstream media, did to Reade Seligmann was utterly shameful. The way that Duke subsequently rewarded the worst offenders in this case, including promoting the most dishonestly vocal faculty members to being deans and high-level administrators, demonstrates that the leadership of that university is proud of what it did. It is proud of the fact that it managed to become the first university in U.S. legal history to be cited in a change of venue document that claimed the university created an atmosphere that endangered the rights to a fair trial by the three falsely-charged lacrosse players.
Everyone involved in this case knows that Reade Seligmann does not owe the IRS a dime and the truth ultimately will come out in official form. However, in the meantime, Duke and Durham can enjoy watching him be demonized in the media, journalists can get another shot at this "controversial" young man who has managed to be well-respected and well-loved wherever he has been, and Jamie Gorelick can make more money billing Duke.
Like the Bourbons of France who "learned nothing and forgot nothing," we are seeing what "Progressives" do to people who manage to fight the odds and proclaim the truth even when "Progressives" are trying desperately to shout them down. Reade Seligmann is about the truth; he always has been, and he always will be, and he truly is a young man of very good character, and members of the Progressive Political Classes in this country generally do not have the same high level of moral fiber.
Yes, maybe we will find that this all was an "innocent mistake," and that an agent just got some numbers wrong. Maybe Gorelick really had nothing to do with this sorry episode. But, given everything I have seen transpire in this case, from the original N&O fabrication, "Dancer Recalls Details of Ordeal," (which is no longer available) to how Duke has protected and rewarded the case's worst offenders, you will have to excuse me if events like this make me suspicious. Very suspicious.
February 28, 2011