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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — July 11, 2007

Updated — today's items:

Collin FinnertyAaron Beard, AP/USA Today:
Cleared Duke player Finnerty to attend Loyola -- Former Duke lacrosse player Collin Finnerty, cleared of rape charges after being sidelined from the sport for more than a year, will transfer to Loyola of Maryland and play for the Greyhounds next season.

"I am excited to be returning to school and look forward to finishing my college career at Loyola," Finnerty said in a statement provided to the Associated Press by a family spokeswoman Wednesday morning.

"Now that I have made my college decision, my life is my own again. I loved Duke and will miss all my friends there, especially my teammates and coaches. They are an unbelievable group of guys who stood behind me from Day One, and I wish them all the best." ...

Seligmann and Finnerty were suspended from Duke as sophomores after the allegations emerged — Evans graduated the day before he was indicted — but they were invited back once it became clear the case against them had no merit.

Neither player took Duke up on its offer. Seligmann said in late May he would attend Brown University, an announcement that came a day after Duke lost to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA championship game for the second time in three seasons.

"I think each of them had to make their own decisions about where he wanted to pursue future education," said John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations. "We would've liked to have had them come back to Duke, but we understand they made a different choice."

KC Johnson: Finnerty to Loyola
LS forum: Collin Finnerty Transfers to Loyola of Maryland, Will Play Lacrosse There
TalkLeft: Finnerty transfers to Loyola of Maryland
Jeff Barker, Balitmore-Sun:
Cleared Duke lacrosse player to attend Loyola -- School to petition NCAA for extra year of eligibility for ex-Blue Devil Finnerty -- ... Finnerty will enter Loyola as a second-semester sophomore. But Greyhounds coach Charley Toomey said today that Finnerty should be eligible for three more seasons because he sat out last year and because Duke ended the 2006 season prematurely after the rape allegations surfaced.

"We're really going to have to petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility and all indications are he's going to have three years," Toomey said.

Duke already successfully petitioned the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility for the members of the 2006 team that lost most of their season. Toomey said the school wants to be certain Finnerty qualifies for the additional year.

Toomey said Finnerty is a promising attackman whose career was just getting started at Duke when the campus was rocked by the criminal case.
Stefanie Williams (Univ. of Maryland), LieStoppers forum:
What My Dad Would Have Thought -- It’s been nearly seventeen months since my mother sent me an instant message at school asking “did you hear about the Duke team?” I remember reading the initial reports and thinking “I’ll absolutely die if it’s someone from Garden City”. It turned out it wasn’t anyone from Garden City. It wasn’t anyone on that team.

I spoke out early and often when this case began, mainly because it actually hit home. I am currently a rising senior at the University of Maryland, a fellow Atlantic Coast Conference school alongside Duke University, and as a freshman, was the manager for the men’s NCAA division I lacrosse team. Beyond that, I grew up on Long Island, in a town called Garden City. Known mainly for its intense lacrosse team, beautiful homes, sprawling golf courses, tight-knit community, and “Leave it to Beaver” families, Garden City was an ideal place to grow up.

Incidentally, Collin Finnerty, one of the former Duke lacrosse players who was falsely accused, indicted, and charged with second degree rape, kidnapping, and sexual assault, grew up only blocks away from me. I also attended high school with several of the men on the 2005-2006 Duke men’s lacrosse team. So to say I had a lot invested in this case was an understatement.

I watched for almost a year as night after night, talk shows, news shows, and even comedy shows, focused on this team, including the parts of their lives that intersected with my own; I never knew that someone’s grade point average, family income, high school extra curricular activities, church, and property taxes had anything to do with being charged with a rape. I also never knew that underage drinking and strippers were “issues” that only affected white, upper-class, students at “elite” institutions. But apparently, I was wrong [...]

Looking back over the case, I only wish my father had been here to see it all go down. My father, who often did pro-bono work for minority clients in his later years, right up until the night before his surgery in his hospital bed, would be heart broken to see the divisive nature of the NAACP and other “liberal” groups, who exploited the racial issues for their own agendas.

He would have been heartbroken to hear people who had never stepped foot in Garden City, attacking a community he gave so much to. He would have been heartbroken to hear the testimony of Mr. Evans, father of falsely accused Dave Evans, who developed type I diabetes due to the stress the false allegations against his son had put on him, as he too suffered from diabetes. And above all, he would have been heartbroken to see so many people attacking these parents for being “wealthy”, and for giving their children a life most would die for. Because since when in this country, has it been considered wrong or improper to sacrifice everything for your family? Since when has it been deemed shameful to provide a life for your child where education, opportunities, and values are provided? Why was it wrong for these families to encourage success, education, and talent in their children? [...]
Stefanie Williams, (Univ. of Maryland) DiamondBackOnline.com:
KC Johnson:
The Depositions and the Whichard Committee, II -- Yesterday’s post examined how the depositions prepared for the Nifong ethics hearing illustrated the Durham Police Department’s inability to evaluate basic evidence. Today’s post will look at how the Himan, Gottlieb, Wilson, and Ripberger depositions reveal a department careless about basic investigative practices and disrespectful of principles of due process...

On the surface, then, it appears that the DPD not only blatantly violated its own procedures, but also concocted a not-too-believable tale to cover up for its misconduct.

How could any fair-minded committee not be horrified by such a record?
Graham Hayes Marlette, Guest columnist, Herald-Sun (reg. required):
[The writer has been a real estate broker in Durham since 1985.]
How I knew there was no rape

The main reason for my certainty [Letters, April 2006] of the lacrosse players' innocence back in April of 2006 is that the crime, as described, could not have taken place. Several key factors argued against even a remote possibility that anyone was raped.

The scene of "the crime that never was," 610 North Buchanan Blvd., was familiar to me. Several years ago, it was for sale and, as a realtor who markets Trinity Park, I remember my interiors. The bathroom facilities could hardly accommodate two adults in any posture and certainly not four hefty athletes sexually assaulting an equally hefty pole dancer while she was levitating four feet in the air, just to cite one of the accuser's many stories.

Then there were the dancers themselves. I listened to the 911 call made by Kim Roberts Pittman, dancer number two, in which she claimed to be "walking" by the house and in the same phone call she said they were "driving" by the house when some boys yelled out the "n" word at her black girlfriend. It turned out that either driving or walking, no one could read the house numbers "610". She had been in the house. She was lying.

Roberts-Pittman is a fascinating, if flawed, character in this morality tale. Quick, easy money was her goal, as in $400 an hour to dance exotically (which is a lot more than the American Dance Festival pays, located just across the street). Pittman attempted to contact an agent in New York to see if she could hustle some cash with "inside information" on the crime that never was, without success. No crime, no cash.

What if she had just told the truth in the first place? What if Pittman had contacted the prosecutor, the prosecuted, and their attorneys back in April of 2006, and admitted that the rape charges were "a crock" as she confessed on "60 Minutes" some five months later? The fact that she 'fessed up on 60 Minutes is a tribute to the special genius of the late Ed Bradley. He even got her to admit to using a racial slur herself as she referenced the lacrosse players' race and anatomy. "Little ___ white boys" she called them. Just imagine that if she had done the right thing at the right time she could have saved her community literally millions of dollars (some of which might well have gone to her) and untold agony among nearly every group, color and constituency...

Finally, I knew they were innocent when a local pastor of my acquaintance pronounced them guilty from his pulpit. Nice guy, but he has never been right about anything. But the most important moral of this morality tale is this: seek the truth and the truth shall set you free. Bear false witness and follow a lie, then bury the lie, and you will be imprisoned by your own perfidy and you will be impoverished by your own greed.
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: Aunt rebuts character assassin -- Beware: provoking an articulate aunt is a fool's errand.

Among other things, Eileen Cornacchia is Collin Finnerty's maternal aunt and not disposed to suffer fools gladly (especially vicious ones).

A. Peter Bailey, according to The Wilmington Journal, is or was an NNPA columnist, a former editor of Ebony magazine, an original member of The Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU)(founded in 1964 by Malcolm X), editor of the OAAU "news" organ Blacklash,...

When it comes to the unfairly and even maliciously maligned members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, however, Mr. Bailey is a contemptible character assassin spewing hate and lies that some gullible people unfortunately believe and Mrs. Cornacchia is the ardent defender armed with personal knowledge and not about to give character assassination a pass like the North Carolina authorities gave false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum for making a false gang rape report.
A. Peter Bailey, Wilmington Journal:
Mrs. Cornacchia:
"Answer to Peter Bailey:

"For historical accuracy — your words -you should research the facts before before turning a bunch of misinformation into a published opinion piece.

"The boys were white — not a crime in this country.

"The boys were not members of a 'FRAT.'

"The boys were not pampered. — As Collin Finnerty's aunt, I know first-hand how Collin was raised. Hard-working — jobs every summer since he was fourteen. Outstanding academic record at a top-rated Catholic Boy's High School. Spectacular athlete from years of intensive practice. Won the "Outstanding Character" award upon High School graduation.

"True: Collin was not a choir boy — he can't sing very well. But he was an altar boy. Does that count or must one join a choir?

"Collin and Reade did not plan the party, or hire anyone. As sophomores on the team they were required to attend the party put on by the team captains. They were both there for a very short time and have irrefutable documentation that they were not there when the bogus incident supposedly took place.

"You might want to look into whether any minority frat parties on the Duke campus had X-rated entertainment during the 2005-2006 school year.

Non-researched, sloppy journalism of the sort you put forth, only goes to further inflame society's problems. It certainly does nothing to set history straight." [...]
Stefanie Williams, (Univ. of Maryland), LS forum:
My Submission to the Wilmington Journal, Chances being published = slim to none -- I have grown furious and frustrated over the last year with the many attacks on the Duke University men’s lacrosse team, mainly because the attacks are stereotypes based solely on bias coverage. The people who have labeled them as “alcohol, frat boy thugs” like Reverand Barber, and Mr. Bailey, not only have never met these men, but are categorically wrong in their assertions. I would like to take a moment to set the record straight on some of the false stereotypes both of these men put forth as facts, and further, defend two of the communities I belong to...
Inv. Ben Himan’s Typed Notes, Part 4 (January 13 - April 4, 2007) --
2/13/07 1245hrs - Went to Brian Taylor’s address, no one answered the door. Left business card in door.

2/15/07 1210hrs - Went to Brian Taylor’s address and was able to talk to him regarding where he went after he dropped Crystal off. He stated he think he dropped her off around 1115 to 1125. He then drove directly to the gas station. He described it as the one across from North Point Mall. I asked him if there was a Burger King across from it and he stated yes. I then drew a map on a paper to describe where it was and he pointed to the gas station that he went to. I asked what he did and he stated that he got gas. I asked him if he used a credit card or paid in cash and he stated he thinks he paid with his credit card. He stated that he went into the station and paid with a credit card. He said the amount was probably around 10-15 dollars because he filled it probably half way since it was almost empty. He stated that he used his State Employee Credit Union Visa credit card number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and his account number is xxxxxxxxxxx.

2/15/07 1340hrs - I went to Han-Dee Hugo’s #77 fast fare gas station located at 1203 W. Club Blvd. I talked to the manager Allen Ivy about getting information on a receipt. I told him that person had told me that they paid for gas with a credit card and he stated that if they paid in the store that he could find it but if he paid outside he wouldn’t be able to get the receipt. I left Brian Taylor’s name and credit card information and contact information for me.

2/15/07 - about a half hour he called back and stated he found a receipt.

2/15/07 1430hrs - I went back to the store and Mr. Ivy gave me the receipt. The receipt had a charge for gator-xfac for $1.39 - the date was 3/13/06 - 2343:56. I told him I would bring back a copy for him and he stated that it was fine.

2/15/07 1445hrs - I called Brian Taylor and asked if he paid inside or out, he stated that he went in the store. I asked if he had bought a gatorade there, he stated yes, that he knew be went into the store but he bought gas outside.

2/15/07 - I later returned and gave the manager a copy of a property receipt for the receipt he had given to me.

2/21/07 1136hrs - Met with Crystal Mangum, Mary Winstead and Jim Comm. This was the first time that Crystal had met with in person. All three were introduced and all of them talked about themselves regarding family and experience. Crystal spoke about her family, Richard who is 7 and Arians who is 6 and the baby Kayla Murchison. Crystal Mangum stated that she was enrolled at NCCU and taking 13 credits this semester, she stated she thought she was around 21 credits shy of her degree. She stated that she planned on going into nursing. Questions were brought up about what medicine she has been on and what medicine she is taking. Her medicine is Depakote and Seriquil and her doctor at UNC Family Practice is Dr. Roberts. She stated she was prescribed the Depakote and Seriquil [at] Holly Hill and was assisted in admittance from Dr. Roberts. She stated she was admitted to Holly Hill in July 05 due to loss of job and being depressed.

Reference any jobs, she stated she worked as a med tech at Eno Point Assisted Living and left due to a disagreement with the supervisor. Reference her starting as a dancer, she called Tammy in the phone book, started around Feb 25, 06 at Platinum. Reference working for the escort agency, she met a girl at Burger King.

Reference any problems at Platinum, she stated she had a problem with Passion because she had danced with one of her boyfriends. She stated she last worked at the Platinum Club for an album release party, March 20th. Or March 25th.

Reference to any medicine she was taking during the incident, flexeril was mentioned but she did not take it that night. She took the flexeril for back pain [...]
comment: Himan is doing investigation work in February 2007 that he should have done in March 2006. Nifong/Durham PD is the gang that should never have been carrying the stinking badges.
It appears that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) protected key card records of Duke University students which District Attorney Mike Nifong sought by subpoena 0n May 31, 2006 were actually provided to the Durham Police Department, and in turn to the ex-DA, on March 31, 2006. Although Nifong had access to the records for months, he pretended to seek them with his subpoena and then, incredibly, argued vigorously for their production in a July court hearing. ...
WallStreetJournal Online (sub. required):
Academic 'Lynch Mob' Escapes Retribution --
Charles F. Falk's July 7 Letter to the Editor "What'll Be Done About Duke's 'Group of 88'?" raises an important issue.

The Group of 88 and Duke president Brodhead will do nothing until they are forced to. The lacrosse players and their parents should sue President Brodhead and the Group of 88 into financial ruin. That would create the appropriate response from this self-righteous, academic lynch mob and send a warning to those who would publicly rush to judgement before all the facts are in.

Thomas L. Pincu
Los Angeles
Letter to the editor, (Murfreesboro, TN), The Daily News Journal:
Duke lacrosse accuser should be punished too

Concerning the allegations of rape against the Duke lacrosse team players, I have questions that I believe the public is entitled to have answers to:

1. Why was the identity of the accuser protected when the identity and pictures of the accused were flashed over the print and electronic media? Are they not innocent until proven guilty?

2. Now that the charges have proven to be false, what charges, if any are being brought against the false accuser? Who is responsible for the extensive costs that were accrued during the investigation? The DA lost his job, his law license and his livelihood. Is the false accuser getting off scot-free?

This is so reminiscent of the Tawana Brawley incident. Effort was put forward to try to find a group of gang rapists of this young black girl. It all turned out to be self-inflicted debasement and you never heard if she was punished for the hoax. Al Sharpton in his inimitable way insinuated himself into the situation and stirred it up more. Was he ever called to account for his involvement?

Les Cornwell
Black Hawk Way
Brendan Smith, Legal Times/law.com:
D.C. Bar Counsel Calls for Suspension of Lerach Coughlin Partner -- Former federal prosecutor could face disbarment -- The D.C. Bar Counsel is recommending that former federal prosecutor G. Paul Howes be suspended for at least two years from practicing law in the District for his misconduct in a witness payment scandal.

Howes also should "furnish proof of rehabilitation as a condition of reinstatement," stated the 116-page brief filed on June 25. A Board on Professional Responsibility hearing committee hasn't yet issued its recommended sanctions after hearing testimony in May from Howes and other witnesses. Howes -- an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District in the 1990s -- testified that poor training, a heavy caseload and a desire to help people in need led him to approve improper witness payment vouchers.

Howes had admitted six of the eight ethics charges before the May hearing, including making false statements in court and engaging in conduct involving "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." But he is challenging charges that he engaged in criminal conduct and offered unlawful inducements to witnesses.

Both Bar Counsel and a Justice Department probe found Howes disbursed more than $140,000 in witness vouchers to 132 people during the Newton Street gang trial and another murder trial, including improper payments to incarcerated witnesses, friends and family of witnesses, and retired detectives. Howes hasn't yet filed a response to the Bar Counsel brief, and neither he nor his attorney Plato Cacheris could be reached for comment last week.

Howes, who is now a partner in the San Diego office of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, still could face disbarment because the D.C. Court of Appeals determines any sanctions...
Bennett Gershman, MercuryNews.com:
Editorial: High time the hands-off approach to prosecutorial misconduct changes -- I am a former prosecutor and longtime observer and critic of prosecutorial behavior. I believe that most prosecutors conduct themselves professionally and ethically. Some prosecutors occasionally deviate from proper standards of conduct through negligence or zeal. But there are some prosecutors who regularly break the law, and it is those rogue prosecutors who should be held accountable for their abuse of power. Regrettably, as many empirical studies have shown, nothing happens to such prosecutors, even if they regularly engage in misconduct.

Consider the case of People vs. Hill, a death penalty case reversed by the California Supreme Court for what it described as "serious, blatant and continuous misconduct" by the prosecutor. The court noted that the same prosecutor had been cited for misconduct in three other appellate cases. Yet state bar records of that prosecutor reveal she has no record of being disciplined...

Why the hands-off approach? There are several reasons. First, disciplinary groups believe that internal controls in place in prosecutor's offices are sufficient to address the problem. Although some prosecutor's offices have established guidelines for compliance with discovery obligations, most offices do not monitor the problem effectively and do not impose sanctions even for willful non-compliance.

Second, disciplinary bodies believe that courts have the ability to supervise prosecutorial excesses. But courts do not impose sanctions against prosecutors. Courts decide cases, and when convictions are reversed for prosecutorial misconduct, courts assume that they have done their job and that some other body will take over.

Third, there is a political ingredient in the unwillingness of bar associations to investigate prosecutors. Most bar associations view prosecutors, who are, after all, part of the executive branch, as the champions of public justice and typically defer to the power of the executive branch even in instances of egregious misconduct...
LieStoppers blog:
Nifonged in Fort Collins: Timothy Masters -- Today's Fort Collins (CO) Weekly features a compelling story detailing Timothy Masters' quest for a new trial after discovering that Eighth Judicial District Court Judges Terrence Gilmore and Jolene Blair, two of the prosecutors in his case, pulled a Nifong and willfully withheld exculpatory evidence that police suspected three other men, including one who confessed to the crime and another whose home overlooked the crime scene and committed suicide after his arrest, had committed the murder Master's was convicted of...
John in Carolina:
DPD/Duke 3/29 Mtg.: More Questions -- The Durham Herald Sun recently reported Durham City Manager Patrick Baker’s explanation for why he met on March 29, 2006 with Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Benjamin Himan:
Baker on Tuesday said the March 29 meeting allowed him to hear from Gottlieb and Himan first-hand, to make sure they and Duke police were working smoothly together and to make sure the detectives had the resources they needed to finish the investigation
Well that seems simple enough. We can all understand the city manager wanting to meet with the two principal investigators in a case the Raleigh N&O said involved “a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence.”

But why was DPD Deputy Chief Ron Hodge at the meeting? ...
Matt Dees, News & Observer:
Stith aims to unseat mayor-- The boy who'd been shot in the belly stood next to Thomas Stith's mother as Stith launched his bid Tuesday to unseat Mayor Bill Bell.

The intended message was obvious: Bell runs a city where kids take bullets. Stith won't.

For that matter, Stith said, he won't allow lead in the water, fires at the dump or contracts to exceed their original costs -- all references to problems that have plagued City Hall in recent months.

It's a lot to promise, not to mention a lot to pin on one person, even if that person is the mayor.

But the loaded-for-bear rhetoric on Day One might just be a preview of a bruising campaign to come.

It will be Stith, the relative newcomer whose conservative politics and contrarian methods often put him at odds with the rest of the city council, versus Bell, the quiet heavyweight with more than three decades of political experience who bristles at his challenger's accusations...

LieStoppers blog:
Mayoral Candidate Stith Launches Campaign Website -- [...]

As the next Mayor of Durham, Thomas Stith will work to:
  • decrease the overall crime rate in Durham.
  • improve the efficiency of our local government.
  • reinforce collaborative relationships among the law enforcement, criminal justice and education systems.
  • promote job opportunities and economic development.
  • maintain and improve our infrastructure.
  • improve our quality of life in Durham.

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