Updated — today's items:
Michael Smerconish, Philly.com:
(Philadelphia-based radio host/columnist)
Head Strong | Duke rape accuser should be punished for lives she damaged -- There will never be justice in the Duke University lacrosse case until somebody slaps cuffs on the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum.
In April, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a report accompanying dismissal of the charges against each of the three lacrosse players accused - Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann. Cooper didn't pull any punches. His findings went beyond the conventional "not guilty" to proclaim the men "innocent." Duke reached a private settlement with the men to ward off litigation. Too bad it reportedly protected 88 Duke faculty members who signed an ill-conceived petition last spring that all but explicitly sided with the accuser. Duke also settled with an uncharged lacrosse player; he complained he received a bad grade because of his association with the team.
And of course, Mike Nifong - former district attorney for Durham County, and the man who so publicly prosecuted the case - has now surrendered his job, his license to practice law, and the keys to his office. A disciplinary panel concluded he should be disbarred for his handling of the case, and then Durham's sheriff literally drove to his house and took his keys to the county courthouse. Before it's all over, Nifong could end up in jail.
All good, so far. But someone is missing: Mangum. She needs to return to the Durham County courthouse in handcuffs - as perpetrator, not accuser. The idea of "closure" remains a joke until she gets a taste of what Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann went through, and what Nifong is now suffering.
She needs to be punished for the damage she has done to our judicial system and the potential harm she has caused real rape victims...
"Even though Crystal Gail Mangum set this train wreck in motion, it appears that she has 'Tawana Brawley immunity' from prosecution. Thanks to racial politics, she belongs to a protected class of false declarants whom law enforcement will not dare to touch." ...
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. President, N.C. NAACP, ThePoliticalAgitator.com:
Lessons from the Lacrosse Party: The Proof Will Be in Where We Go From Here -- The first lesson is we must remember is how we got here. Everything began when the sordid details of an illegal party were made public. An illegal party gone wild, filled with drinking, solicited strippers, and illicit sexual atmosphere and activity which descended almost immediately into negative sexual verbal innuendos and racial slurring. Photos revealed the level of drunkenness. The young men were not at a choir rehearsal and the young women were not in fashion show. This was not a church social but a highly charged gathering with explicit sexual overtones serving as the dynamite, and alcohol acting as the fuse. We must learn something from the challenges of drunkenness, sexual exploitation, and the use of pornographic activity as a form of work and survival. The young women who came as strippers did not just walk off the street--they were invited. We must remember it was this set of undisputed facts that prompted Duke President Richard Brodhead to suspend the lacrosse team’s season. He knew, when he acted to discipline the team and its coach, they were guilty of activities that violated Duke’s rules—activities which had serious and illicit sexual and racial overtones...
LS forum: NAACP's Barber slimes players once again
TalkLeft: Lessons from the Lacrosse Party: The Proof Will Be in Where We Go From Here
Straddling the moral high ground - Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP [hypocrite]
Lacrosse probe has much fodder -- But one of the most intriguing questions is whether the police department was punishing or ostracizing the one officer who, from the beginning, concluded that Crystal Gail Mangum was lying when she accused the three players of gang rape.
Alex Charns, a Durham lawyer who has successfully sued the Durham police several times, said the police have a history of using internal affairs investigations to silence internal critics or naysayers.
"In the past, internal affairs has been used to punish officers who displease those up the chain of command," Charns said.
Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers declined to be interviewed, as did every other police official contacted.
On March 14, 2006, Sgt. John Shelton was the first officer to come into contact with Mangum, an escort service dancer and student. Shelton was skeptical of Mangum's behavior when he first encountered her passed out in the passenger seat of a car at the Kroger supermarket on Hillsborough Road, records show.
Shelton got no response when he talked loudly to her; when he put ammonia smelling salts under her nose, she began breathing through her mouth, which Shelton deemed a sign that she was conscious. As Shelton put pressure on her wrist to goad her out of the car, Mangum grabbed the parking brake, struggling to stay inside. Once out, she collapsed on the parking lot.
Later, at the Duke Hospital emergency room, Mangum gave differing accounts of whether she was raped. After talking with her in the Duke Hospital emergency room, Shelton loudly announced, "I think she is lying."
Shelton apparently has held on to that opinion, which made him unpopular with his fellow officers and Nifong.
In testimony to the State Bar, Investigator Benjamin Himan testified that he spoke with Shelton about the case several times: "Basically, he just characterized it as that she was lying. In my opinion, I didn't think that he had handled it professionally."
In his deposition to the bar, Nifong derided Shelton's handling of the case, though the prosecutor said he had never read Shelton's report of the incident: "Officer Shelton did not seem to appreciate that this was a very serious situation at the time that he responded to the Kroger parking lot." ...
TJN: Statement of Sgt. J.C. Shelton [dated April 9, 2006]
LS forum: Officer Shelton, only honest man in the DPD?
LS blog: Lacrosse Probe Has Much Fodder [cartoon]
FreeRepublic: Lacrosse probe has much fodder [Durham Police Corruption]
TalkLeft: So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World -- There were so many who were actively evil within the Durham Police Department and the office of district attorney. Then, there were the passively evil, those who would allow injustice to occur without comment. One man did not fit either description. SGT. J.C. SHELTON
John in Carolina: DPD’s Real Shelton Problems -- In any case, when Shelton gets to testify about what he and Kim discussed in the Kroger parking lot, I predict what he says will be a real problem for Nifong and his helpers...
Neff, Liestoppers, and Bad News for the DPD -- Joe Neff has pored through the State Bar’s depositions, and uncovered the latest dubious act by ex-Nifong investigator Linwood Wilson...
Liestoppers has analyzed what the depositions have to say about the decision to arrest taxi driver Moezeldin Elmostafa after Elmostafa came forward as an alibi witness for Reade Seligmann. Nifong&Co., it turns out, can’t get their story straight: the DA, Wilson, and three Durham officers give separate, and often contradictory, explanations for the decision to arrest Elmostafa...
The Intimidation of Elmo - Versions I - V --
- Version I (Mike Nifong) - Nifong directs Linwood Wilson to do background check on Seligmann alibi witness Elmostafa...
- Version II (Mark Gottlieb) - DA's office finds warrant and asks Himan and Inv. RD Clayton to serve it...
- Version III (Ben Himan) - Linwood finds warrant after Himan looked for one and came up empty...
- Version IV (R.D. Clayton) - Investigator R.D. Clayton's notes omit reference to a May 8, 2006 meeting with Nifong, Himan, and Wilson...
- Version V (Linwood Wilson) - Anonymous or unknown tipster from within DA's office or maybe the Clerk's office leads Wilson to warrant by suggesting that Elmostafa may have written a bad check...
Sunday Review -- at Forensics Talk, Kathleen Eckelt rightly critiqued a column by Anne Ream that initially appeared in the Chicago Tribune. “Legal vindication,” fumed Ream, “is not moral vindication,” especially since “we may never know everything that occurred on the night of March 13, 2006, when the Duke lacrosse players threw a team party at an off-campus house.” Ream neglected to say what it is that she doesn’t know, or wants to know. The Attorney General’s report is actually quite comprehensive in providing a party timeline...
comment: The Duke lacrosse party has to be one of the most well documented parties in history.Regarding another bitter-ender, Michael Gustafson takes to task Duke Education professor Joseph DiBona...
Closing the Möbius -- Professor Joe DiBona is one of the folks who's written a little bit about the Duke Lacrosse case, and today is one of the first since the Duke settlement was announced to speak about the case again. As a refresher, last year at about this time (June 17, 2006), Dr. DiBona had the following published in the Herald-Sun...
The second paragraph of the [June 30th, Joe DiBona]letter is yet another case of a faculty member publicly rebuking his students. Yet again, I find a faculty member contributing to a hostile educational environment and it angers me deeply. It flies in the face of the final paragraphs from each of the parties to the settlement reached between Duke and the three men. It is not in keeping with the words of President Brodhead...
Steve Chalmers, Guest Columnist, Herald-Sun:
(retiring Durham Police Chief)
Steve Chalmers: A decade of growth for Police Department -- As Durham prepares for a new police chief, I feel it is important to reflect on the positive accomplishments of the Durham Police Department. The men and women of my department have worked hard and I am proud of them.
We have longstanding successful partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Participation in our community policing programs is at an all-time high. We have made significant marijuana, cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy busts in the past three months and our violent crime is down compared to last year.
The State Bureau of Investigation's 10-year crime statistics for Durham tell the story. The violent crime rate per 100,000 dropped 30 percent from 1997 to 2006 and the property crime rate per 100,000 fell by 45 percent. At the same time, violent crime clearance rates improved from 26 percent in 1998 to 45 percent in 2006 and property crime clearance rates more than doubled, from 8 percent to 18 percent during the same period. Our clearance rates are now at or above the national average for cities our size in all crime categories.
One of the keys to the Police Department's success has been our participation on task forces with other law enforcement officers. At this time, we have 11 officers on seven federal task forces that focus on drug trafficking, firearms, cyber crimes and violent fugitives. Just this week our task force officers helped capture our most wanted fugitive -- Shaun Tapp who had been charged with felony child abuse -- in New York.
These task forces, along with our Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team (ICE Team), have also been an instrumental part of our recent large drug seizures. ICE officers confiscated drugs worth more than $1.1 million in 2006 and have already surpassed that total in 2007. They have also confiscated more than $1.1 million in cash since the unit was formed in 2005.
The Durham Police Department was one of the first law enforcement agencies in the state to stand up a gang unit -- not because we believed Durham had a worse gang problem than other cities, but because we wanted to take a proactive stance against gang activity...
City should apologize
Re: H.P. Brock's letter of June 28.
Here is a quote from an article on a panel discussion held recently on "Prosecutorial misconduct in the light of the Duke lacrosse case," a program sponsored by the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.
"The panelists discussed a legal system seemingly plagued by indifference: the indifference of judges who rarely report or punish prosecutorial misconduct, the apathy of prosecutors who push ahead with cases that are not thoroughly vetted and the disinterest of a public that rarely cries out about rogue prosecution unless it touches them personally."
When will Brock and all Durhamites apologize to the falsely accused lacrosse players for your indifferent judges, whom they elected, the rogue, now disbarred prosecutor whom they elected; and the disinterest of the community that allowed such a vicious hoax, replete with witness intimidation, questionable police procedures and sorry leadership to play out on a national stage for 13 months?
That the state had to step in to rescue these boys is the reason Durham is a national disgrace, not the words in any book or interview.
If Brock was more informed on the details of this case that played out in his own city, he would know that a week after the party, the players apologized and have done so several times. The price they paid, and the official wrongdoing they endured, underscore the arrogance of his letter.
An official apology from the city of Durham would do a world of good.
----------'88' ad was offensive
I'm responding to Cesar Clark's letter of June 27. Clark actually helps make my point by referring to the March 6 advertisement by the infamous Duke 88.
The four elements in the ad that most people found offensive were: the timing, the affirmation of the guilt of the three young men with this statement found under the bullet point, "But it is a disaster nonetheless." Quote, "These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves."
Also, the quotes in the ad from the African-American Studies department condemning the racism connected with the alleged rape without one quote raising the question that the boys may be innocent. Finally, the endorsement and encouragement for the protestors and banners throughout the campus.
It's noble to protest racism and other societal problems. However, anyone who was on campus in March 6 would have been exposed to banner and protestors calling for immediate justice with the most vile, hateful attacks on the young men. They were lucky not to be hung in the quad in full view of Duke Chapel.
I also think it's telling, the departments that signed on to the advertisement.
----------Praise for police in drive to reduce crime
We write to share our appreciation for the June 28 article "Police hone in on crime hot spot." It illustrates the dedication of our police department to partner with the community and the thoughtful, data-driven approach to crime reduction.
Over the past eight years, we have witnessed the remarkable efforts of the police department to significantly improve the quality of data. The willingness of the DPD to share this information with the community in a meaningful way is particularly admirable. Durham is a community of engaged citizens who care deeply about making the world better. There is no better illustration of this than the overwhelming number of individuals and organizations who are working tirelessly to enhance the safety and lives of individuals and our community.
The data illustrate that the vast majority of Durham citizens are safe. However, as the hot spot analysis indicates, some in our community are overwhelmed with violent crime. Guided by quality data, we applaud the DPD's year-round focus on this area. It is our hope that our community will seize the opportunity and use this information to renew its focus to assist, in every way possible, our neighbors who live in this dangerous part of Durham.
The police department alone can't solve this problem.
NEWMAN AGUIAR, BARKER FRENCH
The writers are members of the Durham Roundtable.
Michael Nifong's Defense: Wild Hare Toxic Shock Syndrome -- The wild hare -- now in custody. North Carolina - Michael Nifong, the former District Attorney of Durham County, North Carolina, put forward a curious but unenviable defense regarding his unfair targeting of three Duke University lacrosse players for allegedly raping a stripper in 2006.
Attempting to clear his name amidst the ethics investigation that surrounds him, Mr. Nifong stated that he actually had "a wild hare up-the-ass" that prevented him from thinking clearly. It is not known when the animal entered Nifong's colon or even how it made its way beyond his sphincter.
The three wrongly-accused players, their wrongly-fired coach and animal rights activists are outraged that Nifong will not take responsibility for his actions, attempting to blame the cute and cuddly creature instead...