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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Duke/Nifong Hoax: Day #273

Updated - today's items:

Cash Michaels, Wilmington Journal/BlackPressUSA.com:
Exclusive: Duke Official Told By Duke Police "Boys: called dancers the "N and B" words — A top Duke University official confirms that last spring, after allegations that a black exotic dancer was raped at a drunken Duke lacrosse player party made headlines, Duke Campus Police told him that when she and the second dancer first got there, unidentified white males inside were overheard saying, “ Oh no. We’re not going to f—k a nigger bitch.” ...While the racist remark allegedly made by some party attendees is not clear evidence that a rape or sexual assault indeed occurred, as the accuser maintains, it does confirm a frame of mind at that party that alleged slurs which have been previously reported seem to allude to. It may also be why Durham police investigators felt that an assault may have indeed happened.

In an exclusive phone interview Tuesday with The Wilmington Journal/Carolinian newspapers, John F. Burness, vice president of Public Affairs at Duke University, confirmed that’s what he was told by Duke Campus Police, in the presence of Duke Prof. Karla Holloway, an African-American, who was in his office at the time....

------ update: additional portion of article retrieved from cache, May 26, 2007 -----

Burness also forwarded the newspapers a copy of his Jan. 3, 2007 email correspondence to Prof. Holloway, who first revealed the shocking allegation in an email to her colleagues that same day, explaining why she was stepping down from various committee assignments in protest of two of the indicted players being reinstated at the school.

“I will share with you what I have not previously shared publicly,” Holloway wrote to her colleagues Jan. 3. “It has colored this matter for me since last spring. It is legally hearsay, but nevertheless speaks volumes to what I think are the intricacies of the event that deserve a legal hearing.”

Holloway went on to recall how last spring, while she was in Mr. Burness’ office, she overheard him speaking with Duke Campus police by phone.

“…[T]he Vice President took a call from the Duke Police, who had returned from a meeting with the Durham Police,” Prof. Holloway continued. “He repeated aloud what the person on the phone was telling him: “So you are telling me that when the boys opened the door and saw the dancers they said “Oh no, we’re not going to f—k a ‘n’ (expletive).’”

“I cannot help but think that if I was privy to this, this statement had to have been shared with our administration,” Holloway continued. “So what does it mean to readmit students with an indictment for violent acts, without an internal investigation of our own regarding the event? I think it is a choice the institution has made. And it has led to my own that I cannot work in shared good faith at a time when principled conduct matters less than polls and parents’ pleas.”

In his Jan. 3 email response, Vice Pres. Burness wrote, “ The comments you overheard in my office which were attributed to the Durham Police were as you described them. We both found them to be profoundly painful/disgusting. They clearly, if true, spoke volumes about the climate of the event, but I knew that it was not clear who had made them and I knew that conducting our own investigation would instantly be seen as compromising that of the Durham Police. That would play into the hands of those who assumed—-as many people in Durham did as the case first surfaced—Duke would use its power to influence the case and the process.”

Burness continued, “ I also knew that the Durham Police didn’t clarify who apparently had said it and I made no assumption that the students who ultimately were indicted, did. But I also knew that [Duke President] Dick [Brodhead] had said from the start that independent of the criminal allegations, some inappropriate and dishonorable things had occurred that night and when the Police investigation was concluded, he committed that Duke would conduct its own review.”

“That commitment stands,” Burness continued. “In a matter of days after the report you overheard, I also heard numerous different and conflicting things attributed to the Durham Police about the incident, many of which I knew to be false. And, there was one other issue. At the time I was concerned that in a case of this sensitivity, we might be given seemingly confidential info from the authorities as a means to test whether we would act on it and violate the confidence or their investigation. For all of these reasons, I never reported it to anyone—-either in my office or in the administration. It was in some notes I took but never went further than that. That may be difficult for you to believe, but it’s the God’s honest truth.”
LS forum: Incendiary Charge by Cash Michaels, Claims of Racist Coments by LAX Players — I think this is a transparent effort to cry "racism" now that the accuser's case is sinking. Furthermore, it has nothing to do specifically with the indicted players. It is a vile attempt to smear the lacrosse team-- why now? Cash Michaels and Karla Holloway are cut out of the same mold-- both race baiters. And Burness has some explaining to do.

LS forum: Burness Answers - Archive, Questions about Cash Michaels Piece

TalkLeft: Duke Official Told By Duke Police: Boys Called Dancers The ''N AND B'' Words

KC Johnson: Let's Play Telephone (see comments) — Just when it seems like we'll see nothing worse emerge in this case, Cash Michaels has just posted an article asserting that he:
  • was told by Karla Holloway,
  • who overheard a call to John Burness,
  • who was told by a Duke police officer,
  • who overheard a Durham Police Officer
  • say that a Mystery Witness told him or her . . .
that one of the lacrosse players used ugly racial epithets at the start of the party. Some would call this sixth-hand slander.
No Federal Probe in Duke Lacrosse Case — Officials from the Department of Justice have told a North Carolina congressman that it's too early to launch a federal investigation into the handling of the Duke lacrosse case, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. Rep. Walter Jones wrote Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last month, asking that the Department of Justice investigate whether the district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players charged with sexual assault has violated the athletes' civil rights.

The department's Office of Legislative Affairs responded last week that it was premature to initiate a federal investigation while criminal charges and other investigations at the state level are ongoing, said Cynthia J. Magnuson, a Department of Justice spokeswoman.

Jones' spokeswoman Kathleen Joyce said Tuesday that the congressman still planned to meet next week with the head of the department's Civil Rights Division...
LieStoppers forum: The Hoax's Latest Enabler, Alberto Gonzalez
FreeRepublic: Justice Department Won't Investigate Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor
TalkLeft: "Premature to initiate a federal investigation..."
Editorial - Chicago Tribune:
As the Duke case implodes (reg. req.) — Our criminal justice system most notoriosly fails two kinds of people: wrongly convicted defendants, and crime victims whose guilty assailants walk free. Privileged young men who attend elite colleges and face charges of violent sex offenses usually don't attract public sympathy. That may be why the story of an African-American woman who said three white players on the Duke University men's lacrosse team raped her possessed an air of plausibility from the start.

This case may yield victims, but it appears less and less likely that the woman is one of them. On Friday, Durham, N.C., County District Atty. Mike Nifong recused himself from his imploding case and handed what's left of it to North Carolina's attorney general, Roy Cooper....Defense lawyers have demanded that the remaining charges be dropped. From this vantage, it's hard to see why Atty. Gen. Cooper wouldn't investigate and then do as the defense asks.

If that happens, the list of Nifong's victims will start with the defendants. But that list also will include Duke faculty members, students and Durham residents who, caught up in the symbolism and politics of the case, initially rushed to judge them guilty. One other group of victims: women everywhere who, because of this case, may have a harder time persuading police and prosecutors to bring sexual assailants to justice.
Editorial - Newsday (NY):
Get to bottom of Duke caseEvidence needs unbiased examination - The North Carolina special prosecutor now in charge of evaluating the all-but-demolished sexual assault case against three Duke University lacrosse players should speedily determine whether there is any evidence to support the remaining indictment and, if not, finally administer some justice by dismissing all the charges. The rape case against the three players, including Collin Finnerty of Garden City, raised questions from the start, but it has quickly unraveled in the past few weeks....

Nifong, an appointee facing a black challenger in an election for the job, apparently sought the black community's support by prosecuting affluent, white athletes from out of state, however flimsy the evidence. The Duke case should be a warning that a campus culture that tolerates drunken behavior and sexual indiscretions by star athletes can only lead to problems. In this instance, however, the best case remaining is that of ethical and prosecutorial misconduct against Nifong.
Kaffie Sledge column, Ledger-Enquierer (Columbus, GA):
Duke case raises questions — It's said so often on all the crime scene shows -- "the evidence doesn't lie" -- that it has become cliche. It's criminal that the D.A. in the Duke lacrosse fiasco didn't bear that in mind. Durham (N.C.) District Attorney Mike Nifong, who recently recused himself from the case, accused three white lacrosse players of raping a black stripper.

Most of us thought this was just another case of testosterone overload. Male athletes gone wild. It was believable. We could also believe because there was drinking -- underage drinking at this party -- things got out of hand when a couple of athletes didn't think "no" really meant "no."

Perhaps because of the number (too many) of forensic TV shows, I would never have imagined a D.A. filing charges with such blatant disregard of the truth and the law...Now we're told the accuser has taken psychiatric medications, and perhaps that is the reason she did what she did and said what she said. What are Nifong's reasons?

JackJack Kelly, RealClearPolitics.com:
A Rush to Condemn in the Duke & Plame Cases — Mr. Nifong's reason for pursuing such a flimsy case seems clear. The electorate in Durham is more than 40 percent black. At the time the accuser made her accusation, he was trailing in the Democratic primary to a woman he once had fired. If he lost, it was unlikely the winner would keep him on, and his pension has not vested.

Mr. Nifong won the election. But short term gain likely will be followed by long term pain. Last week he bowed to pressure to recuse himself. He faces a hearing before the North Carolina bar association that could result in his disbarment....

Liberals rushed to condemn the Duke lacrosse players because they loved the narrative: rich white guys abuse poor black woman. Some furious backtracking is taking place as evidence of their innocence mounts. A new verb, to "nifong," has been coined. It's a synonym for "to frame."...

FreeRepublic: A Rush to Condemn in the Duke & Plame Cases

Letters to the Herald-Sun:
Jon Edge, Charlotte:
Durham's a joke — I'll be the first to admit, this is completely from an outsider's point of view because I live in Charlotte. But come on Durham, wake up. The Duke rape case has been an embarrassment to North Carolina as a whole. You've dropped the ball...Most of all, I expect better from the City of Durham. You let a DA and one segment of the community hijack your entire city and make it a laughingstock in the public eye. It's time to purge, and I don't just mean Nifong!

M. Michael Dor, Kildeer, Ill.:
Durham's morality play — There are several actors in the morality play about rape produced and directed by District Attorney Mike Nifong. The first is Nifong, who used the incident to create a criminal sex scandal enhanced by racial overtones to further his political aspirations. His choice for supporting actress billed as victim could not tell the same story twice and DNA studies of her clothing revealed semen from several males, none matching that of the three accused lacrosse players....And then there was the news media that is only obligated to report the "news" as it occurs -- uncritically. Finally, there were the three accused male athletes who were given little sympathy by the others. Who are the bad actors? Who are the criminals? What rating does the play deserve?

Gregory Day, Huntsville, Ala.:
Not choosing Duke — Having watched the lacrosse case and having two college-age children, I know the nation is wondering exactly what is happening in Durham. I know co-workers who, a year ago, were seriously considering Duke for their children. Not any more. This entire event has simply highlighted for the nation the high ethics and standards of the Durham police, the district attorney's office, and Duke University itself...

Kelly Bowling, Raleigh:
Duke, Durham should be ashamed of conduct — Like many people in the area, I watched the report on "60 Minutes" on Sunday about the lacrosse case. I am a Duke graduate and this fiasco has caused me to be embarrassed by my school. President Richard Brodhead should resign or the board of trustees should fire him. The administration inserted itself into this case by its decisions, and by doing so, added to the injustice that the accused suffered. Durham residents should be ashamed that in the midst of this case, they elected District Attorney Mike Nifong. I hope, and have full confidence, that Nifong will be disbarred after his hearing on his misconduct. I also hope that a civil suit will be brought by the players against Nifong, the City of Durham, the Durham police, the escort-victim (having four separate DNA samples in her the night of the incident) and DNA Security
Forum topics of note:
LieStoppers: Did Nifong plan this hoax himself?

LieStoppers: The "Something Must Have Happened" Mantra — Kathy Seligman's [on '60 Minutes'] read on the "something must have happened" mantra:
"You know what? I believe you'll never change those people's minds. And what's so sad, to me, is I almost get the feeling they're disappointed that something didn't happen..."
LieStoppers: The Evolution of Crystal Mangum!, A study in Victimology - Victim Stage 1: The trauma inflicted upon her is this horrifying and brutal gang-rape...Victim Stage 2: Mike Nifong used this woman...a benign, unwitting pawn. Victim Stage 3: Mental Illness...

related: The Johnsville News - American Victim — America get ready to meet your new 'American Victim.'
Nifong's Ripples Reach General Assembly — With the egregious nature of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct now approaching universal acceptance, the effects have begun to spread like ripples across water. It has been predicted here, and elsewhere, that the effects of the Hoax have, or will, extend to future rape victims, race relations in Durham County and beyond, academia as a whole and Duke University specifically, the mainstream media, the blog-o-sphere, and elsewhere. A clear presentation of Nifong’s ripples, however, has already begun to emerge within at least one realm- the legal profession as a whole and the criminal justice system in particular...

For those who believe that reforms, whether aimed at bringing North Carolina’s grand jury system out of the Stone Age, or focused on ensuring that other innocents do not fall victim to a rogue prosecutor without a mechanism for state intervention, it would seem that the time is right to turn up the volume in the direction of the NC Legislature.

KC Johnson:
The Special Prosecutor Route — Two days out from Roy Cooper’s announcement that the AG’s special prosecutions division would assume control of the case, it’s worth offering some tentative conclusions. Having Nifong off the case is an unqualifiedly positive development, since in recent weeks the “minister of justice” had displayed increasingly erratic behavior....A special prosecutor provides the best chance for an immediate investigation of “whether there was manipulation of evidence and statements,” as defense attorney Joseph Cheshire hoped.

Duke Martin Luther King Day panel discussionVikram Srinivasan, Duke Chronicle:
MLK panels touch off heated debates — "Freedom School"-a series of twelve discussions and presentations honoring different aspects of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy-began and ended amid controversy Monday. Two panel discussions on affirmative action and race relations at Duke inflamed both audience and panel participants' passions. Some audience members described the discussions as unproductive and angry, but others said they appreciated the diversity of viewpoints represented. Ben Reese, vice president for institutional equity and co-chair of the MLK Commemoration Committee, said the motivation behind this year's "Come to the Table" theme was to engage student groups who had not participated fully in past programs. For example, politically conservative student groups have been actively involved in the planning this year, bringing a wider range of opinions to the discussion, he said. Richard Spencer, a second-year graduate student, said the result was a "clearly impassioned" debate.

"There was blood on the floor," he said...

Editorial - Duke Chronicle:
Time for a calming effect — In the last week, the lacrosse case has turned rapidly in favor of the lacrosse players-and it's been quite clear in the news. Recently revealed court papers show the alleged victim has changed key details of her allegation, including recanting her claim of Reade Seligmann's participation in the alleged assault. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong asked to be removed from the case in response to a North Carolina State Bar complaint, among other things. A CBS "60 Minutes" report Sunday night showed guests questioning the credibility of the victim and focused largely on the responses of the indicted lacrosse players' parents. In the midst of these recent developments and this renewed media attention, we, the public, the bystanders, must remember one thing: to respond in moderation and to control our emotions and opinions...

Strong opinions about the lacrosse scandal have also found an outlet on the Internet. Many blogs do promote positive discussion and investigation of the scandal. But some irresponsible members of the Internet community have turned to childish devices to direct their anger. Impersonations of public figures, such as President Richard Brodhead, are simply immature and not conducive to a rational dialogue that must occur between all sides, especially now. In a time of such great public energy, we must remember to act responsibly. The lacrosse case is still in a state of limbo, and while we most certainly should not act prematurely, it is also absolutely imperative that at no time we act stupidly or maliciously...
Letter by Steven Beckett (Fuqua '87), Duke Chronicle:
McCarthyism in Durham? — As an alumni of Duke, I have followed with great interest the case involving the three Duke lacrosse players...time will hopefully show what truly transpired in March, it is already clear that the three students' right to due process was violated and presumption of innocence ignored by people who let their own political and social aims guide their actions. What is more ironic and disturbing is that these actions were taken in the name of justice. There was a time, not that long ago, when a group of people were similarly singled out and persecuted and, in some cases, prosecuted in a similar manner. So egregious were these cases, so horrible these times, that a name was given to the hysteria that led to it, a phrase that we often use today when similar situations arise: McCarthyism.

Letter by Asher Steinberg (Trinity '08), Duke Chronicle:
Malaklou column wrongly implies racist tendencies — I have a couple criticisms of her latest piece ("Cruel intentions and dangerous liaisons," Jan. 10). Malaklou has always contended, and does so again, that there is something racist about the sexual preferences of Duke women. In her words, "Duke women... do not lust after famous black basketball players... rather, they lust after white preps with celebrity status on campus, but not off." The implication seems to be that, if Duke women were nondiscriminatory, they would take the world-renowned basketball player over the relatively small fries of the frats, but because they do not, some racism must be at work....Wherever one goes, there are men, whether they be frat guys, scions of wealthy parents, professional athletes, rock stars or even drug dealers, who attract inordinate amounts of no-strings-attached female attention. This certainly may be unfortunate, but the problem, if there is one, is with life in general and not with Duke in particular.
Adam Eaglin, Duke Chronicle:
Legal experts: recusal may lead to dismissal — A number of legal experts have commended embattled Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's decision to step down in the Duke lacrosse case, while noting that the changeover may lead to the case's eventual dismissal. The most immediate effect of the development is that Nifong will lose all authority over the prosecution and the administration of the case, Duke law professor Paul Haagen said. At a press conference Saturday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper appointed two attorneys from his office to take charge of the case. He said the two will begin the task of reviewing all evidence...

Even though the appointment of a special prosecution does not change the facts in the case, many legal experts speculated that the case may be dropped once the evidence is reviewed. "If I were a betting man, I would wager that this case will be dismissed," Ronald Sullivan [Yale Law professor] said.
Katherine MacIlwaine, Duke Chronicle:
Nifong steps down from lacrosse case — The North Carolina state attorney general assumed control of the Duke lacrosse case Saturday and appointed two special prosecutors to replace Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who requested to be recused Friday. "Any case with such serious criminal charges requires careful and deliberate review," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said at a Saturday press conference. "Our goal is to seek justice and truth respecting the rights of everyone involved."

Cooper appointed James Coman, head of the attorney general's Law Enforcement and Prosecutions Division, and Mary Winstead of the Special Prosecutions Division, to the case. He said the special prosecution will meet with witnesses, investigators and defense attorneys and will offer a "fresh and thorough review of the facts." "I wish I could tell you that this case will be resolved quickly, but it is my understanding that there are numerous other documents and other information in the district attorney's files and in the court records," Cooper said. "Since we have not been involved in the investigation or the prosecution of these cases, all of the information will be new to our office."

Cooper said there is no guarantee whether or not the case will go to trial, but Joe Cheshire, defense attorney for one of three indicted members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team, expressed hope that the new prosecution will influence the outcome for the defendants. "For the first time, someone who is honest and objective and doesn't have an agenda will look at this case," Cheshire told The New York Times. "We feel confident that when they do, these young men will be exonerated."
Arizona State University, statepress.com:
Opinions: What's in a name?
— Printing names can harm both the accused and the accuser - The truth of what happened that night will forever be known only to the accused and the accuser. However, our country has placed our faith in a court system dependent entirely on the impartiality of a judge and jury. The reports on the accuser - who could have been under extreme stress on the night of the attack, and may have legitimately remembered things differently - will surely sway any jury member who watches the evening news. A big trial is certainly newsworthy. But before pumping out every detail, every name, the press should consider the consequences. It is not our job to coddle anyone. But we should all proceed with caution before providing anyone with a bridge from which they can leap to damaging assumptions.

Nifong Could Face 2nd Bar Complaint (1/15/07) — The former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case could face another complaint from the North Carolina Bar...They say Nifong broke other professional conduct rules by failing to turn over exculpatory evidence, which works to a defendant's benefit rather than a prosecutor's, to defense attorneys in a timely manner. The evidence in question is test results in which no DNA from any lacrosse player was found on the accuser. After a December hearing, Nifong insisted he did nothing wrong.
LieStoppers: WRAL Says 2nd Ethics Complaint Coming...
Tom Bevan, RealClearPolitics.com:
Trying to Right Nifong's Wrong (1/15/07) — As far as compelling television goes, Bush's interview with Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes pales in comparison to Leslie Stahl's sit down with the families of the Duke lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape but remain in the legal crosshairs thanks to the outrageous and unforgiveable behavior of Durham DA Mike Nifong. The interview is available on CBSNews.com in two parts (Part I and Part II).

As a parent, it's impossible to watch the interview without sharing the rage these folks feel over the way their children have been persecuted. And as a son, it's also impossible not to empathize with how the accused boys must feel seeing their parents' anguish, and watching them fight at great personal cost to try and right the horrible wrong done to them by Nifong...

Michael Gaynor:
"60 Minutes" again and how to stop the pain (1/15/07) — On Sunday, January 14, 2006, after a great football game that fortunately did not go into overtime, "60 Minutes" presented its much anticipated and very moving follow up to its original Duke case expose, with Leslie Stahl replacing the late Ed Bradley. Ms. Stahl interviewed the parents of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans as well as reported on the collapsing of the prosecution's case and the replacement of the prosecutor. Only oblivious or willfully blind viewers are still unaware that (1) the Hoax was horribly hurtful to people who had not deserved to be hurt and (2) an end should be put to the prosecution that has been a persecution as soon as possible...

Rush LimbaughRush Limbaugh:
More Outrage in Duke Lacrosse Case (1/15/07) — I don't know if you’ve seen that press conference on Saturday afternoon where the North Carolina attorney general announced that he's taking the case over and assigning two prosecutors in his office to handle it. Nifong wanted to be recused, Nifong wanted out, and fine, Mike, you're gone. But I'm getting ahead of myself here, but they said, (doing impression) “Well, you know, we don't know anything about this case. I wish we could promise a speedy conclusion, but we can't promise anything. We're starting from scratch. I mean we haven't seen the case file. We're not going to get the case files 'til next week. We can't rule out anything. We can't rule out rape charges.”

Oh, okay, so we're looking at another year of this, perhaps? The parents of these three guys are facing another year or whatever length of time it is of legal fees to start all over again? There's no case! You know, this is one of the things that just frustrates me about the legal system. This case is not about the evidence because there isn't any. This case is about the seriousness of the charge. So some stripper comes forward now with three or four different versions of what happened to her that night and we've got charges based on that because the charge is the only thing that matters. Not the veracity of the accuser, not the legitimacy. No, the nature of the charge, the nature of the evidence here is irrelevant. I can't believe these people...

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia