The Magazine

Durham Bull

The phony Duke rape case, and who was really assaulted.

Sep 24, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 02 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
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Until Proven Innocent

Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

by Stuart Taylor Jr. and K.C. Johnson

Thomas Dunne, 432 pp., $26.95

Now that: (1) all rape and related felony charges stemming from the supposed white-on-black sexual assault said to have been committed by three Duke lacrosse players at a team party on March 13-14, 2006, have not only been dismissed but the three young men have been completely exonerated as "innocent" by the attorney general of North Carolina; (2) the prosecutor, Durham district attorney Mike Nifong, who brought the patently false charges in an effort to court the black vote in his election race, has been disbarred, obliged to resign from office in disgrace, and even sentenced to jail for a day for lying to the court; and (3) the supposed rape victim has been revealed to be, if not a pathological liar, certainly pathological, I'm waiting to see exactly how many members of the mainstream press assigned to review this meticulous and damning dissection of the case by Stuart Taylor Jr. of National Journal and Newsweek and Brooklyn College historian K.C. Johnson will finally name the name in print or on television of the hired -stripper/exotic dancer/soi-disant student who caused all the trouble.

Her name is Crystal Mangum.

Taylor and Johnson do so. And they also publish a photograph of the
-bruise-, contusion-, and cut-free face of the then-27-year-old Mangum, taken by the Durham police on March 16, 2006, exactly three days after she said she had been beaten, kicked, and choked (with her head banged against a sink), as well as penetrated orally, vaginally, and anally for 30 minutes in a group-house bathroom by the three Duke students she later identified in a rigged photo lineup as the since-graduated lacrosse cocaptain David Evans and then-sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty.

Of course, outside of Mangum's story, which changed materially about a dozen times as the months passed, there was not a shred of evidence--physical, forensic (as in DNA), testimonial, or otherwise--to link the three (or any other member of the Duke lacrosse team) to a gang-rape of Mangum.

In fact, there was no evidence that sex of any kind between Mangum and any lacrosse player had taken place, or even could have taken place, on the night of the party, given that (as Taylor and Johnson have carefully documented using time-stamped photographs, receipts, phone records, and police statements, as well as multiple interviews of the players present that night) Mangum spent the entire hour she put in at the party either "dancing" (four minutes of "mumbling and stumbling," according to Taylor and Johnson), locking herself in the bathroom in the sole company of her fellow stripper, Kim Roberts, haggling incoherently with assorted players in the living room and outside the house over whether she deserved to be paid $400 for a four-minute performance; and beating on the door to be let back into the house to retrieve a lost shoe, until she finally passed out on the back stoop and was carried to Roberts's car by several players.

One of the three accused, Seligmann, had left the party well before the supposed sex crimes occurred, as his trail of cell phone, taxicab, and ATM receipts indicated, and Finnerty departed soon afterwards.

So you would think that after April 11 of this year, when Attorney General Roy Cooper, who had taken over the case from Nifong in January and appointed two of his senior prosecutors to conduct an independent investigation, declared at a press conference that "these three individuals are innocent of these charges," Mangum would have forfeited the last shreds of her status as an alleged sex-crime victim deserving to have her name kept out of print, and been inducted into the Tawana Brawley Memorial Hall of Rape-Hoax Fame.

But I'm not counting on it. As Taylor and Johnson observe, most of the nation's major media outlets--"including, of course, The New York Times--continue to protect the anonymity of false accusers such as Crystal Mangum even after they have been proven beyond any doubt to be vicious liars bent on sending innocent men to prison."