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Friday, September 15, 2006

Duke Case: Statement Analysis


The alleged victim of the Duke lacrosse rape, Crystal Gail Mangum, made her handwritten statement regarding the sexual assault to police on April 6, 2006. That is twenty-three days after she first made her rape allegations on March 14, 2006.

Investigators met with Ms. Mangum several times before April 6th. Why did it take police investigators over three weeks to obtain a written statement from Ms. Mangum? This delay certainly contributed to their inability to detect Ms. Mangum's lies and deception regarding the rape. Some of the meetings Ms. Mangum had with police before April 6th:

The NY Times reported that she met with Gottlieb and Himan on March 16th:

...March 16, Sergeant Gottlieb and the lead investigator under his supervision, Officer Benjamin W. Himan, went to the woman's house.

During that interview...The woman spoke for an hour. She talked about her life - joining the Navy and moving to California shortly after finishing high school, marrying a man 14 years her senior, becoming pregnant by a sailor, returning home to North Carolina and getting divorced - and gave a detailed account of the lacrosse party. "Tears ran down her face freely, and her nose began to run," the sergeant wrote.
(It is unclear from this report if the notes that Sgt. Gottlieb took for this interview were handwritten or the typewritten ones he used his memory to reconstruct.)

Also on March 16 and again on March 21, 2006, Crystal Mangum was presented with six photo arrays by one of the case investigators, Richard Clayton.

On April 4, 2006, Crystal Mangum was presented with a third photo array in the case. Sgt. Gottlieb presented the photo array, while Inv. Clayton (among others) observed and took handwritten notes.

The investigators brought Kim Roberts in to make her written statement on March 22nd, two weeks before they thought to ask Ms. Mangum for one. Roberts took an hour forty-five minutes to write her account of the lacrosse party.

Again, why did Sgt. Gottlieb turn a blind eye towards getting a written statement from Ms. Mangum? Taking twenty-three days to obtain a written statement from the alleged victim is a serious breakdown in investigative procedure. The written statement is a very useful tool in rape investigations.

If you look at the professional background of the two lead investigators, Gottlieb and Himan, you will see a list of law enforcement courses, "in addition to hundreds of hours of In-Service Training with the Durham Police Department."

The importance of complainant/witness statements and analyzing them is covered in "Interview and interrogation" classes. Both Mark Gottlieb and Ben Himan list that course, "Interview and interrogation," as part of their law enforcement training on a search warrant affidavit that they made under oath.

What should come first in a rape investigation the interview or the statement?

Special Agent Susan H. Adams taught statement analysis as part of interviewing and interrogation courses at the FBI Academy. Her training document entitled, "Statement Analysis: What Do Suspects' Words Really Reveal?" says:
In statement analysis, investigators examine words, independent of case facts, to detect deception. They also remain alert for information omitted and question why the suspect may have done so. Investigators then analyze the clues unintentionally provided by a suspect and use this insight during the subsequent interview...

Although spoken words can be analyzed, investigators inexperienced in statement analysis will find it easier to begin by examining written statements. Investigators can make transcripts of oral statements. Or, even better, they can have suspects write a statement that details what they did from the time they woke up until the time they went to bed. This account provides a totally untainted version of the day's events and increases the validity of the analysis...

Statements contain a wealth of information far beyond what the suspect or alleged victim intends to communicate. Fortunately, investigators can use this information to their benefit.

Statement analysis provides investigators with vital background data and details about relationships to explore during the interview process. It also can determine whether the intent of the statement is to convey or to convince, that is, to convey the truth or to convince through deception.
Plainly the FBI training document says that the correct procedure is to obtain a statement before "the interview process."

There is no indication that Gottlieb and Himan video taped Ms. Mangum when they first interviewed her on March 16th. Gottlieb and Himan are certainly not stenographers. Taking notes during an interview is not the same thing as getting a statement. Obviously notes do not exactly record the words and phrases the alleged victim used to describe the sexual assault.

As The New York times reported the investigators had major discrepancies between their notes regarding the descriptions of the assailants given during the March 16th interview:
As recounted in one investigator's notes, one of the indicted players does not match the accuser's initial physical descriptions of her attackers: she said all three were chubby or heavyset, but one is tall and skinny. In Sergeant Gottlieb's version of the same conversation, however, her descriptions closely correspond to the defendants....

In Officer Himan's handwritten notes, the woman described all three as chubby or heavy. Adam: "white male, short, red cheeks fluffy hair chubby face, brn." Matt: "Heavy set short haircut 260-270." Bret: "Chubby." The descriptions in Sergeant Gottlieb's notes are more detailed and correspond more closely to the men later arrested
The notes from the March 16th interview are a jumbled mess. Again, why did they not just ask Ms. Mangum to write down the descriptions of her assailants as part of a comprehensive statement? She is, after all, a police psychology student with a 3.0 (B) grade average.

Moving on to the artificially constructed April 6th statement itself.

Portions of Ms. Mangum's April 6th handwritten statement have now been made public. Here are the excerpts that have been released:
"We went into the bathroom and shut the door."1

"Dan knocked on the door and asked if we wanted a drink. We said yes. He gave us a drink and we continued to talk."1

"Nikki and I started crying."2

"We ran out to the car screaming and crying."2

"Nikki told me that they were sorry and that they were going to give us $1200 if we stay. Nikki and I got out of the car and went back into the house. As soon as we got back into the house, they were more excited and angry."2

"Nikki and I started to leave again, and three guys grabbed Nikki and Adam, Matt and Brett grabbed me. They separated us at the master bedroom door while we tried to hold on to each other."1,2

"The boys hit and kicked me. Matt grabbed me and looked and me and said sweetheart you can‘t leave. He grabbed the back of my neck and said I‘m going to kill you (BLANK) (BLANK) if you don‘t shut up. They started kicking me in my behind and my back. Matt hit me in the face while Dan and Brett kicked me."1

"I heard Nikki on the other side of the door, and when Adam opened the door she rushed in and helped Adam to get me dressed. They dragged me out to the car because my legs couldn't move. Nikki said, "What happened girl, did they hurt you," I said yes, and she said that she would get help for me."2
Crystal Gail Mangum Statement extracts taken from:
1 'The Abrams Report' for June 19 [MNSBC]
2 Lacrosse files show gaps in DA's case [newsobserver.com, Aug. 6, 2006]

When analyzing a statement Adams says:
Many investigators use a technique called "statement analysis" to discern the truth in statements...

Statement analysis follows a two-step process. First, investigators determine what is typical of a truthful statement, referred to as the norm. They then look for any deviation from this norm. Truthful statements differ from fabricated ones in both content and quality...

Parts of speech form the foundation of statement analysis. To analyze a statement, investigators first need to examine the individual parts of speech, particularly pronouns, nouns, and verbs, and to establish the norm for each. If a deviation from the norm appears, they then should ask, "Why?"...

The Pronoun "I".....
I versus We....
The Pronoun "We"...

In speech and the written word, linguists consider the shortest way to say something as the easiest and clearest way to communicate. The pronoun "we" is a short, clear way to describe one's self and others after proper introductions have been made. "We" also denotes togetherness; it indicates a relationship between persons.
One thing is obvious, Ms. Mangum's written statement is loaded with pronouns. Based on the small sample above it seems clear that the relationship between Ms. Mangum and Ms. Roberts is much closer in this statement than in the statements Ms. Mangum initially made on March 14th. Note the frequent use of "we." How and why did the bond between Ms. Mangum and Ms. Roberts, a/k/a "Nikki," grow so much stronger over 23 days?

It is truly amazing that Durham investigators did not take Ms. Mangum's statement early on in the investigation. Something short-circuited commonsense police procedure. They did not get an opportunity to use "statement analysis" as an investigative tool. They therefore missed a big opportunity to detect the lies and deception in Ms. Mangum's story.

Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Ben Himan at best conducted a sloppy, disorganized, and failed investigation. At worst they are engaged in crimes of their own, if they are covering up or tampering with witnesses or evidence to further perpetuate this hoax.

Forget the police foul-up, what did Mike Nifong look at or use to assess Ms. Mangum's credibility and her story? A well versed prosecutor would want to read the alleged victim's written statement before launching a major criminal conspiracy prosecution. The statement is the foundation for the entire case. Not obtaining Ms. Mangum's written statement should be considered an act of legal malpractice or prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Nifong. Add one more to a long list.

Other articles regarding statement analysis by Dr. Susan H. Adams:
To study the relationships between veracity and features of written statements, the authors examined 60 narratives written by suspects and victims. The authors found three features of the statements--the length of the criminal incident section, the presence of unique sensory details, and the inclusion of emotions--that accurately discriminated truthful statements from deceptive ones.
Are you telling me the truth? Indicators of veracity in written statements [Findarticles.com, Oct. 2004]
Scrutiny of spoken and written words can reveal valuable insight toward an understanding of the narrator. The insight gained from examining the choice of words in suspects' and alleged victims' statements can help investigators prepare effective interviewing strategies to lead them to the truth.
Statement analysis: beyond the words [Findarticles.com, April 2004]

It does not appear that Ms. Mangum provides any unique sensory details. "Screaming and crying" are not unique descriptors. Emotion is also missing from the snippets. It will also be interesting to see how long the criminal incident section actually is.

MSNBC should ask Dr. Adams to analyze Ms. Mangum's full written statement.

Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers [nytimes.com, Aug. 25, 2006]
Statement Analysis: What Do Suspects' Words Really Reveal? [fbi.gov, Oct. 1996]

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