The way the prosecution of the Duke lacrosse players was initially handled was a tragedy. Kudos to the N.C. attorney general, however, for the way he handled the case once it was turned over to him. He is correct in saying that there needs to be a thorough review of how prosecutors handle cases in North Carolina. The justice system needs to be totally transparent to be trusted.
The problems with the case involving the lacrosse players have been duly noted. One problem, however, that I have not seen mentioned is that our court system operates so slowly. Serious problems involving the handling of the lacrosse case were obvious very early to most people, so why should it have taken 395 days for it to run its course?
We have lots of capable people in our state’s legal system from top to bottom. Can ways not be found to make it operate both fairly and efficiently? Can the plodding pace not be picked up?
For example, just one case covered by The N&O in the early days of April involved a defendant who pleaded guilty. The sentence will be announced in November. Maybe there is a legitimate reason why it should take seven months for a sentence to be announced once a guilty verdict has been established, but I fail to see what it could be. No wonder our courts are clogged.
Well, finally the ordeal is over, the players exonerated, and the district attorney under scrutiny. Before we package this event up, let’s remember that these players hired two strippers, were drinking with underage minors and were generally acting inappropriately during the event. They are guilty of incredibly poor judgment and should have been suspended from school by Duke before any of the other charges became public. Firing the coach was a knee-jerk reaction by the Duke athletic director and suspending the season unfair to the majority of players on the team. This whole scenario was handled so poorly by Duke and the district attorney. Hopefully, both sides have learned from this.
Dennis D. Whelan
I cannot image the pain the young men (Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann) and their families must have experienced over the last year. Not knowing whether your son may go to prison for 20-30 years — indescribable pain. Not knowing whether you may not see your son again in your lifetime other than in a visitors’ room in prison — beyond words. Why? $15,000 more in retirement pay.
How can someone compartmentalize the overwhelming facts of the case and then ignore them for personal gain? How can one person have so much negative impact on so many people for so many months? How can one person in our legal system go so long unchecked? Mike Nifong proceeded with this rape case with ear plugs inserted and blinders on. And so did Durham County, the State of North Carolina and Duke University.
The legal system did prevail, and it will continue to prevail against Mike Nifong and Durham County. Duke University needs to evaluate itself and come to grips that it was part of the problem and not the solution. There were countless numbers of other people and institutions that convicted these young innocent men before any facts were revealed. Now they must live with the consequences of their actions. Now the worm has turned. Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann’s lives will go on. They are grown men now. Their comments at the news conference were evidence of their maturity, their love for their families and the class act that they all are. Now the pain has shifted to Mike Nifong and his family. Certainly not to the same level the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families had to endure. It is another sad chapter so this senseless and unjustified rape case.
Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, provided a detailed account (with 42 footnotes!) of Crystal Mangum’s education, military service and criminal record less than 24 hours after Roy Cooper proclaimed the Duke lacrosse players innocent of all charges. I find it hard to believe that Mike Nifong and his staff were not aware of most of this information before they launched a full-scale attack in the media on these three young men, proceeding to vilify and charge them with rape.
Is his office so incompetent it doesn’t have enough sense to check public records?
The lacrosse players and their families have spent a year in hell. Mangum appears to have issues with mental health that could have been addressed a year ago if Nifong and his staff had taken the time to treat all of these individuals as human beings.
Mr. Nifong, as the mother of a son, I want to say something to you: Shame on you! Maybe those are words you should have heard as a child yourself.
While I recognize that there were many errors in the Duke lacrosse case, both procedural and ethical, and though it is true that under North Carolina statutes the three men might be technically innocent, there are important aspects of the case that should not be dismissed.
Had the players not engaged in behavior that was, to say the least, distasteful, and had their reputations not preceded them, things might have been far different.
There also seems little question that the accuser is a fragile young woman who has had no advantages in life and who is deeply in need of care. Yes, her testimony and actions were contradictory and unreliable, even irrational. But one can’t so easily dismiss the possibility that the treatment she received in that particular house, on that particular night, from a group of jeering young white men whose behavior toward her was crude and debasing might well have felt like emotional rape. Even if it was a job she’d done before. Even if she was being paid.
I do not think men, from Don Imus on down, recognize (or care) that the dismissive way in which so many of them still treat the women in their lives is a form of spiritual rape that is as shattering as physical assault. It comes close to breaking many of us every day.
Patricia M. Walker