Commentary

Saunders: Duke lacrosse players who weren't charged shouldn't get big payday

bsaunders@newsobserver.comNovember 13, 2013 

Get a job, ya bums.

That’s not a misanthropic rant directed at the poor panhandlers some Triangle municipalities wish to ban from hummin’ and bummin’ on city streets, nor am I the only one saying it: the U.S. Supreme Court said essentially the same thing.

Both the Supremes and I are directing that harsh employment advice not at down-and-out citizens, but toward the three former lacrosse players from Duke University who are trying to extort a big payday from the city because they suffered the less-than supreme indignity of being required to submit to a DNA test after Crystal Mangum claimed she was sexually assaulted by some members of the team.

Mangum’s claim was discredited, but not before three other players were charged with the crime and publicly identified, vilified and demonized.

That trio of wronged players reached an undisclosed settlement with Duke, a settlement presumed to be in the millions. If you’ve ever been falsely charged with such a despicable crime, identified as the poster boys for privileged dissoluteness and seen your mug plastered across TV screens and newspapers, you know they deserved every cent they got. Dozens of other players received smaller payouts from the school.

Shameless money grab

These other guys, though, the ones engaged in this shameless money grab despite not being charged with anything?

They deserve bupkis. Nada. Zilch. With all of the elaboration the case deserved – none at all – the court refused to even take it up. Get a job, indeed.

Had the cops DNA’ed me without a warrant or for no other reason than I was in the house, I’d yelp, too. I doubt that I’d take that law enforcement imposition as a reason to act as though I’d hit the lottery, though.

The three players who received the big bucks from Duke are also currently suing the City of Durham, no doubt hoping the city will just slice off a hunk of cheddar so they’ll disappear. The U.S. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court have both either ruled against them or refused to hear their cases, but left enough wiggle room for both groups to proceed with portions of the suits on the state level.

With us always

You know how in the Bible it says the poor will be with us always?

Many of us Durham residents feel this case will be with us always. Ever since the 2006 incident at a house near in which members of the lacrosse team invited a couple of strippers to perform and a crude bacchanalia became an internationally known incident, Duke, lacrosse and Durham have all been undeservedly linked in a manner none wished to be nor deserved to be.

That isn’t likely to change soon, not with Mangum’s murder trial starting this week and the court ruling that these three non-victims have no claim.

In a column this week about Mangum’s murder trial, I said her name and the case with which she is linked are like a bad penny that keeps turning up. That makes the trio of former lacrosse players who are trying to reap a payday for the minimal imposition of submitting to a DNA test three bad pennies – a three-penny opera of greed.

Did I say they deserve nothing? Let me amend that. The dear boys deserve plenty – of scorn and reproach for trying to profit off the real misery inflicted upon their former teammates, their university and the city of Durham.

The house in which the party occurred has been bulldozed from the face of the earth, leaving not a trace. If only bulldozing the memory of the incident were as easy.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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