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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That is because, from March 2006 to April 2007 and beyond, much of the mainstream media, including the Times, operated as a "journalistic echo chamber" (the words are Taylor and Johnson's) that credulously channeled not only Nifong--who violated all canons of prosecutorial ethics by publicly declaring the three defendants guilty before trial and accusing the rest of the team of erecting a "wall of silence" to cover up the crimes--but also a considerable segment of Duke's arts and sciences faculty, who turned viciously against their own students in order to further political agendas that included race-baiting, Marxist class war, man-hating feminism, and plain hostility toward competitive sports and the athletes who engage in them.

Crystal Mangum was a piece of work. She had been discharged from the Navy after showing up for assignments drunk and getting pregnant by someone other than the man to whom she was then briefly married; had pleaded guilty in 2002 to larceny, drunk driving, and assaulting a government official after stealing a taxicab, leading police in a high-speed chase, and aiming the stolen cab at a pursuing officer who had exited from his squad car (fortunately, he jumped away just in time); and had claimed to have been the victim of an earlier three-man gang-rape in 1993 when she was 14 (her father said she had made that up), and also a death threat by her former husband in 1998 (he denied any such thing).

She had a history of psychological problems, including a brief mental hospitalization in 2005, and she frequently combined large quantities of alcohol with an array of prescription and nonprescription drugs while pursuing multiple careers: dancing (and passing out) at an outfit called the Platinum Pleasures Club; giving half-hour "private performances" in hotel rooms and elsewhere; having sex with a man she described as her boyfriend and also with at least one of the "drivers" who transported her to the "private performances"; oh, and also reputedly taking courses at the historically black North Carolina Central University in Durham--although, as Taylor and Johnson point out, "virtually no one on campus appeared to have any contact with her before the fall of 2006."

Attorney General Cooper gave up on Mangum after she showed up "significantly impaired" for an interview on April 4, 2007, and "admitted before the meeting that she had taken Ambien, methadone, Paxil and amitriptyline."

Mike Nifong was another piece of work. The various prosecutorial outrages he committed that led to his June 16 disbarment on grounds of "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation" included: arranging for the rigged photo lineup that Mangum was told consisted solely of the 46 white members of the Duke lacrosse team (enabling her to pick out the three defendants in a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey process), even though he knew that she had failed to identify a single one of her supposed assailants in two earlier photo lineups that had included, as is proper, nonteam ringers to ensure that the lineup was not unduly suggestive; securing felony indictments against Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann after learning the results of the DNA tests that exonerated them; and, most egregiously, concealing from the defense lawyers (via deliberate omission from a May 12, 2006, lab report) the fact that a medical exam conducted on Mangum shortly after the supposed rape revealed the presence of DNA from at least four different men on her person and underwear, none of which, needless to say, matched that of anyone on the lacrosse team.

Even while excoriating the team's "stone wall of silence," Nifong refused to meet with lawyers for Seligmann offering the young man's airtight alibi, and repeatedly rebuffed other attempts by the defendants to clear themselves without going to the expense of a trial. He pursued a trumped-up accessory-to-shoplifting charge against Moezeldin Elmostafa, the Ethiopian immigrant cab driver whose records corroborated Seligmann's alibi. (Elmostafa was quickly acquitted by a jury.)

Taylor and Johnson have plenty to say about Nifong and his pandering to Duke's black electorate, but the gravamen of their book is the appalling conduct of Duke's radicalized faculty members and the numerous journalists who were only too eager to report the story as a morality play of "race and gender"--privileged white males carnally abusing an impoverished black woman--rather than as a real-live case of an alleged rape concerning which there was plenty of evidence, even during the earliest weeks, to suggest that it had not actually occurred.