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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — April 28, 2007

Updated - today's items:

Anne Blythe & Joe Neff, News & Observer:
Report depicts dazed accuser -- Mangum was not credible, AG found -- One year after the infamous Duke lacrosse party, special prosecutors were the first officials to question Crystal Gail Mangum about her conflicting stories about being gang-raped, according to a report released Friday by the state attorney general.

The prosecutors, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, said they met a woman who showed up impaired on a cocktail of prescription drugs. She denied irrefutable facts and changed her story so often, even during a single interview, that the lawyers thought she was improvising.

District Attorney Mike Nifong bet his career on Mangum and the case that besmeared Durham, Duke University and its students, and, ultimately, the North Carolina justice system.

"The state's cases rested primarily on a witness whose recollection of the facts of the allegations was imprecise and contradictory," Attorney General Roy Cooper's 21-page report said. "The accusing witness attempted to avoid the contradictions by changing her story, contradicting previous stories or alleging the evidence had been fabricated." ...

'NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE'

Special prosecutors, with assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and the Durham police, spent more than 12 weeks reviewing the Duke lacrosse case files, interviewing witnesses, examining evidence and collecting information.

They reviewed 7,000 documents, 600 photographs, interviewed 47 people, including 17 members of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team, and met with District Attorney Mike Nifong, his chief investigator, Linwood Wilson, and accuser Crystal Gail Mangum.

REASONS CITED FOR DISMISSAL

  • The case had multiple and significant inconsistencies and contradictions, and no evidence to corroborate the accuser's version of events.
  • No DNA evidence confirmed her stories.
  • No medical evidence confirmed her stories.
  • No other witness confirmed her stories.
  • The accuser's accounts changed significantly. Even in the face of facts that contradicted her stories, the accuser was unwilling to acknowledge that she might be mistaken about the identification of the defendants.

THE CONCLUSION

"Rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event, [but] in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that the State had no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

"Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, the Attorney General and his prosecutors determined that the three individuals were innocent of the criminal charges and dismissed the cases April 11, 2007."

Durham City Council member Thomas Stith said officials need answers about Nifong's role and whether he wielded undue influence over police.

"It's time for the district attorney to remove himself, to step down, so we can move forward as a community," Stith said.
discussion:
FreeRepublic: Report depicts dazed accuser [Duke LAX Rape Hoax]
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Duff Wilson, NY Times:
‘Credibility Issues’ Undid Duke Case, Report Says -- The report barely mentioned Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney whom Mr. Cooper described on April 11 as a “rogue prosecutor” who had rushed to judgment. Mr. Nifong is facing ethics charges that are scheduled to be heard in June and could result in disbarment.

Mr. Nifong’s office said he would decline comment on the report “until all proceedings involving those cases have been completed.” Mr. Cooper declined interview requests.

Joseph B. Cheshire and Brad Bannon, two of the lawyers for the former students, said in a statement that they were pleased that the report said “there simply was no physical or sexual assault whatsoever.”

In an indirect reference to Mr. Nifong, the report said the attorney general’s review of the case was the first time the accuser had been asked formally about inconsistencies in her account. Mr. Nifong has acknowledged that he never questioned the accuser about the details of the case. He had said he simply believed her, based on police reports and a nurse’s account, and wanted to put her before a jury.
related:
KC Johnson: Wilson and the Prosecutors
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John in Carolina:
INNOCENT: Duke Still Falling Short -- Duke’s statement is simple and seems straightforward. But I have some thoughts and questions about one part of it. It’s this sentence:
“We now await the N.C. State Bar’s review of the charges against Mr. Nifong for his conduct in this case.”
Since January Brodhead has been telling alums and everyone else: “I’m one of Nifong’s biggest critics.” Duke’s “ We now await …” sentence fits nicely with Brodhead’s demand the Nifong account for his actions....
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David Zucchino, LA Times:
Duke lacrosse case was riddled with holes, report says -- The prosecutor did not challenge the accuser about her changing versions of what happened at a team party, North Carolina's attorney general reports.
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Anne Blythe & Joe Neff, News & Observer:
Team party turned sour early -- Five of the 21 pages of the attorney general's report are devoted to a narrative of how the lacrosse team party unfolded March 13-14, 2006.

The narrative amounts to the definitive official account of the party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. Here's a condensed version. Not all the participants were named in the report, but they have been clearly identified in investigative documents:

Co-captain Dan Flannery called an escort service March 13, gave a fake name and booked two white dancers for a bachelor party. A first dancer, Kim Roberts, arrived on time, shortly after 11 p.m....

The women left again just before 12:30, and Zash locked the back door. Roberts went to her car, and Mangum banged on the back door, trying to get inside. A player videotaped her in the back yard, stumbling and talking disjointedly and telling one player, "I'm a cop." A photo showed her lying on the back porch. Flannery helped her to Roberts' car.

As they were leaving, Roberts yelled a sexual and racial insult at players across the street on Duke's East Campus. One or more responded with racial epithets. Roberts drove off with Mangum.

comment: The Johnsville News put together the first Duke Lacrosse Rape Timeline on April 21, 2006, and updated it last year. It was very close to the official incident timeline that the AG documented in the report. The timeline's problems of time and space for the prosecution convinced close followers of this case last spring that no crime occurred. The initial "30 minute" rape story from Ms. Mangum never held up then and things just got worse every day for this year-long Nifong/Mangum hoax. Amazing.
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Duke Basketball Report:
A.G.’s Lax Report Released -- The mystery here is, as it has been: why did Mike Nifong do this? Was it just for a pension?

Given the magnitude of the crime committed here - and in our opinion, even if Nifong is never charged, using an unstable woman to frame three innocent men is at least a moral crime - one has to wonder about his other cases. Which seems more likely to you - that he would start cheating on a high-profile case like this? Or that this is part of a pattern? We have no idea, but it’s a disturbing yet important question to ask.

What takes our breath away is the arrogance of it, the idea that the D.A. could just so blatantly spin a case out of nothing.

In fact, given the magnitude of what has transpired, we’d really urge attorneys, or law students, or journalists (which rules out just about anyone from the Herald-Sun) to pore over the records of the office for the last decade or so to see if anyone else was hung out to dry. Our hunch is that what happened in the lacrosse case didn’t happen in a vacuum.
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Durham City Manager Patrick BakerMatt Dees, News & Observer:
The lineups that weren't? -- City leader says photo arrays didn't qualify; report coming -- One flaw in the Duke lacrosse case pointed out by the attorney general's report Friday was that the lineup in which accuser Crystal Gail Mangum identified players as rapists was "of questionable validity." Durham police violated their own policy by not interspersing photos of nonsuspects.

On Friday, City Manager Patrick Baker, who oversees the Police Department, offered an explanation: None of the three photo arrays Mangum viewed technically were lineups.

The photos were intended as much for Mangum to identify witnesses as to identify suspects, Baker said. That doesn't qualify as a lineup, he said.

Baker promised a report next week from Police Chief Steve Chalmers with fuller explanations of that and other issues raised in the Friday report.

The report, Baker said, "will at least explain the basis for why I didn't believe and still don't believe we were conducting a lineup at the time."

City Council member Thomas Stith was skeptical, given that the photos resulted in indictments.

"You can call it what you want, but that's what it ended up being," Stith said.
discussion:
LS forum: Patrick Baker in full cover up mode -- Patrick Baker, laughably, claims the lineups weren't lineups.
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KC Johnson:
Summarizing the Report -- As TalkLeft’s Jeralyn Merritt observed, the attorney general’s report made clear that the lacrosse case was a “hoax” — perpetrated by a mentally unstable accusing witness, an unscrupulous district attorney, and a few other key figures willing to compromise their professional ethics to keep the fraud alive...

All told, a devastating report for Nifong and his law enforcement enablers—and yet a document that in no way prejudices his right to a fair hearing before the state bar, since it skirted the two primary issues for which he faces ethics charges.
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Richard Dietsch, Sports Illustrated:
April Media Power Rankings -- Praise for bloggers Johnson and Milano; Imus fallout -- K.C. Johnson, blogger: Arguably, the most important media figure in the Duke lacrosse case, Johnson's Durham-in-Wonderland blog provided exhausting, meticulous and obsessive daily coverage. It was a remarkable bit of citizen journalism, and upon the dismissal of all charges, one of the accused players, Collin Finnerty, cited Johnson for "his diligent work exposing the truth every day." He and Stuart Taylor Jr., a legal columnist for the National Journal who deserves equal acclaim, are a writing a book on the case. . .
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Forum topics of note:
LS forum: CGM on Video, "I'm a cop"

LS forum: Former Duke BOT head resigns DC job, caught in call girl scandal

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