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Monday, April 10th 2006

Jumping to Conclusions

DNA evidence has failed to point to rape by any member of the lacrosse team. You can watch the words directly from the horses’ mouth.

Certainly this isn’t the nail in the coffin of a possible prosecution. The lip flapping prosecutor, who couldn’t seem to shut up earlier in this investigation, has made that clear. It has to be posturing for his upcoming election.

“I’m not saying it’s over. If that’s what they expect, they will be sadly disappointed,” Nifong said at a candidate forum Monday night. “They can say anything they want, but I’m still in the middle of my investigation. … I believe a sexual assault took place.”

He can talk all he wants, this result is a major, major blow. Along with released time stamped photos from the defense team which show the bruising and the bad shape the stripper/escort is in at the time of her arrival to the party, this DNA evidence cast some serious doubt on the guilt of these young men. These signs of trauma were a major part of the announcement by her examiners, after her accusation, that she had physical signs consistent with sexual assault and they appear to have occurred prior to her arrival at the lacrosse party.

Although the lacrosse players themselves have kept relatively quite, motives, such as anger over money and maybe even racial slurs directed towards the alleged victim, have been leaked out about why a false accusation may have been made. Talk Left probably has the most likely scenario down,

Bottom line in my opinion: The accuser got to the party at 11:30 pm. The evidence of sexual activity which the rape exam nurse found to be merely “consistent with” forcible sex, likely happened before she arrived, as did her physical injuries. There was a dispute (and possibly) a scuffle over the money – the players felt ripped off that the girls stopped dancing after just a few minutes and that one of them (the accuser) was too drunk to dance.

If the accuser made up the rape claim, the damage she caused to these young players, to the lacrosse team which had its season cancelled, to Duke University and its reputation and to the team’s coach is incalculable. And, it will be a huge stab in the back to true rape victims everywhere, who already fear they won’t be believed if they come forward.

Even with the underage drinking, the alleged racial slurs which in themselves may not be true, and the vile disgusting email, these players have been forever demonized beyond their guilt, which is unfortunate. It will horrify me anytime I read about how they brought it upon themselves.

What we have here is a party with underage drinking and strippers, something that, while a mistake and wrong, happens thousands of times over every weekend across the universities of this country. What we have here is a single disgusting drunken email, from a lone individual, not the other 45 men. But even this young man didn’t deserve what these accusations have cost him.

If the accusations turn out to be lies, the real villain here is the “victim”…if anyone has the guts to step back from the conclusions they immediately jumped to and realize that. But I’ll be surprised if I see half the editorials written about this new turn of events as I did when the victim was a sympathetic African-American mother of two trying to put herself through college by working hard at the only profession that paid well enough to do it.

And as always, if despite the lack of evidence, this woman was raped then let those who did it rot in prison.

Here’s Captain’s Quarters take on it. Here is Lashawn Barber with great coverage of the scandal and commentary on the portrait of racial crimes in the media.