Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is It Me Or Does The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case Just Keep Getting Worse And Worse

I am loath to discuss cases where the testimony hasn't come out yet. Unless you are a party to the case, there is no saying what the otherside may have in its trial bag. Nevertheless, the Duke University Lacrosse team rape case has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.

For those that are unaware: a party was held by some of the students on the Duke Lacrosse team. The Team at the time was favored to win the NCAA National Men's Lacrosse championship. At the party the boys invited (hired) two strippers to perform. At the end of the night, one woman, a 27 year old mother and student at a local college, Ms. Crystal Gail Mangum claimed she was raped and sodomized. Ms. Mangum is also a former member of the US Navy reserve and a convicted criminal who stole a cab and tried to run down a sheriff's deputy. She has claimed to have been raped before. She also has charged her ex-husband with threatening to Murder her, a charge he denies.(I learned most of this by reading the Johnsonville News which has excellent coverage.)

Now why all this information in this post? Because it seems to me that before a District Attorney brings charges like these against a young person (let's remember these kids are in their early 20's)he ought to have a very good case. In this case he has more reasonable doubt than hard facts.

Forcible Rape: a legal definition

The forcible sexual penetration of the human body by the penis or the forcible insertion of any other object into either the vagina or the anus."(link).

So:
1.We must have force and 2.We must have penetration of the vagina or the anus. And 3. It must be by a penis or any other object.

In this case, all three elements are in dispute. First, lets deal with elements number two and three. There is proof that someone penetrated the accuser with his penis. However that someone's DNA matches the accusers boyfriend's. That doesn't mean that she wasn't raped. Nor does it come in to show the accuser has had out of wedlock sex. In fact, I don't think it matters a wit that she had semen in her vagina. What matters, is that not one of the three boys she has accused of violating her had his semen in her vagina... or seemingly anywhere else.

Then there is the issue that she alleged she was force to have anal and oral sex. Again no semen. Now I have read on a feminist blog that sometimes men do not ejaculate enough semen to test. Ok maybe that happened here... but three times with three different 20 year old boys?.

Then there is the statements of the women who was dancing with the accuser. She originally called the allegation of Rape "a "crock" and said she and the accuser were together for all but 5 minutes of the evening. The accuser said the rape happened over a half hour.

Even assuming that when one is being assaulted it feels like a lot longer than it might have been, and assuming that the rapes could have occurred within five minutes, how do you account for the fact that both the witness (who has since said the story may be true)and the first security person to see the accuser ( woman security guard at a local Wal-mart both said the accuser never mentioned being assaulted and that the first police officer on the scene said she didn't appear to have been a victim of assault but rather appeared to be drunk.? (See posts here, here and here for attribution of alleged facts herein.) All of these things seem to negate the truth and veracity of the accuser.

Not to mention that there may not have been any alcohol or drug testing of the victim and that according to hospital records given to the defense attorney's the only harm to the accuser seems to be a cut, a scratch, and some vaginal swelling that would be just as consistent with consensual sex as it would with rape.

Remember the Burden of Proof

The Prosecution, in this case Durham NC. District Attorney Mike Nifong has a heavy burden of proof. He must prove this accuser was raped by these three boys,Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Even if he personally feels that the accused boys raped this woman, it seems to me that as a trial attorney he should be able to see that there is reasonable doubt all over this case. His obligation unlike the defense attorney is to do justice. Justice when used in a criminal justice system is not truth, justice means fairness.

It is beyond unfair that the three accused kids in this case should have to face a jury and the public for the rest of their lives as accused rapists. It is unfair that they have had there faces and lives shoved in front of America for a crime that this District Attorney's office should not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This case is a sad commentary on what has become of our criminal justice system. Maybe we should have complete press blackouts of names of accused until a court finds that there is at least proof of a clear and convincing case.

Nifong is not stupid and he is not to be underestimated. He is Phi Beta Kappa and has been a teacher and a social worker while he worked toward his law degree. He has tried over 300 felony trials many as serious as murder. Nevertheless he has a duty as the distict attorney an elected official to speak to the press and to the public before he costs his county anymore money on this case. He needs to show some kind of a smoking gun and to do it soon. He has spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars in police time, testing, and court time. That is an unfair burden on taxpayers because one doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to tick off substantial parts of the electorate.

Worse it leaves him open to attacks of playing politics with a criminal case. It wouldn't be the first time a District Attorney was accused of that, nor would it be the first time it actually happened. It just shouldn't. And this time America is watching.
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