Opening Argument – In Duke Case, a Rogues’ Gallery

National Journal

My rogues’ gallery does not (in all probability) include any Duke University lacrosse player. That’s because the available evidence leaves me about 85 percent confident that the three members who have been indicted on rape charges are innocent and that the accusation is a lie. (Some evidence was in my April 29 column; some is below.)

The gallery does include more than 90 members of the Duke faculty who have prejudged the case, with some exuding the anti-white racism and disdain for student-athletes that pollutes many college faculties.

The gallery also includes former Princeton University President William Bowen and civil-rights lawyer Julius Chambers. They went out of their way to slime the lacrosse players in a report on the Duke administration’s handling of the rape scandal — a report that is a parody of race-obsessed political correctness.

Many members of the national media have published grossly one-sided accounts of the case while stereotyping the lacrosse players as spoiled, brutish louts and glossing over the accuser’s huge credibility problems.

Then there is Mike Nifong, the Durham, N.C., district attorney who is prosecuting the case. In addition to the misconduct detailed in my April 29 column, he has shielded his evidence (if any) from public scrutiny while seeking to keep the rape charges hanging over the defendants by delaying any trial until next spring.

Nifong and a certain Durham police officer should themselves be under criminal investigation, in my view, for what looks like possible intimidation of a disinterested defense witness, a cabbie who had been transporting one defendant at the time of the alleged rape.

Am I prejudging the case myself? Yes, in that I have not yet seen all of the evidence. And yes, in that there could be an innocent explanation for the recent arrest of the cabbie by rape-case investigators under a two-and-half-year-old, apparently frivolous shoplifting warrant.

Opening Argument – An Outrageous Rush to Judgment

National Journal

The trashing of Duke’s lacrosse team by many in the media may be shifting gears as the Durham, N.C., district attorney’s case against two players indicted for gang rape falls apart and evidence of gross prosecutorial misconduct mounts. I can’t rule out the possibility that there may be some horrible truth in the shifting claims by an African-American "exotic dancer" that the two indicted defendants and another team member gang-raped her in a bathroom. But accumulating evidence strongly suggests that the charge may well be a lie.

The innocence of at least one defendant seems clearly established by rock-solid evidence that he could not possibly have been raping anyone during the half hour after the accuser and another woman had done their four-minute dance at a team party at midnight on March 13. The case against the other defendant also seems weak.

And the evidence that perhaps no Duke lacrosse player committed rape should make a lot of people ashamed of themselves: District Attorney Mike Nifong, the Durham police, many in the media, politically correct Duke professors, spineless Duke administrators, and others.

(Disclosure: A parent of one team member is a friend of mine, and I might not be writing about the case if my analysis of the evidence supported the rape charge.)

Instead of backing off, many in the rush-to-judgment crowd have simply hedged their presumption of guilt and shifted to smearing the lacrosse players — including sons of three retired New York City firefighters, and others from modest backgrounds — as a bunch of privileged, thuggish, racist, and (horrors) white jocks, suggestive of Southern slaveholders.

As to the rape charge, consider some evidence.