Several of our readers complain about our cynical coverage of the gang-rape accusation made by an African-American stripper against white members of the Duke University lacrosse team on March 14–an accusation that has proven problematic, to say the least, when all 43 white members of the Duke lacrosse team were DNA-tested and the results came up negative. That hasn’t stopped campus feminists from screaming and Durham, N.C. District Attorney Mike Nifong from planning to press charges against someone or other on the team, despite the absence of any evidence connecting any lacrosse player with sexual assault of the woman. (See “Presumed Guilty at Duke, Despite Lack of Evidence,” April 13.)

Here’s J.C.:

“Something is terribly wrong with you women.Women in rape allegations are as entitled to due process as those accused….[Los Angeles Lakers star and acquitted rape defendant] Kobe [Bryant] had to pay his accuser $5 million. That girl had more dignity than you women ever will.”

I’m not sure whether, by “that girl,” you’re referring to Kobe’s accuser or the Duke lacrosse team’s, J.C. Kobe, whom I maintained was innocent from the word go, always admitted that he’d had sex with his accuser, who had come voluntarily to his hotel room for a late-night visit. Kobe argued–and the jury believed him–that this consensual sex did get a little rough, and after the acquittal he apologized to his accuser. He did offer her $5 million to settle civil charges against him, and I don’t know whether she accepted the money.

That’s a very different matter from the Duke charge, in which the alleged victim says she came to the house to strip and was subject to a gang sexual assault–which she says she resisted so violently by scratching and clawing her assailants that several of her false fingernails got torn off. If what she said was true, those nails should have been saturated with some lacrosse player’s DNA. No such thing. Furthermore, according to reports, she can’t identify any particular assailant. So, guess what? I don’t believe a word of what she’s saying–and neither does La Shawn Barber, who has an update on the case here. And neither does television legal commentator Jonna Spilbor, who writes this:

“In addition to the negative DNA test, there is additional exculpatory evidence here. This week, pictures of the alleged victim surfaced that may indicate that she had suffered injuries to her body already – the same injuries for which she claims the three attackers were responsible.

“Especially if these photos have accurate time and date stamps, the credibility of the accuser will be so severely undermined, that prosecutors may have to face this painful question: Should this case turn from an investigation of rape, to an investigation of a false claim of rape?”

Nonetheless, another InkWell reader, Marie, complains:

“While it sounds like the boys from that lacrosse team are innocent of rape, I have a hard time supporting defending them all the way. A stripper? At a team party? School athletes are supposed to behave themselves and be role models (at least at my university). I have no qualms with their suspension from the lacrosse team.”

I agree with you. Athletes, and especially college athletes, ought to behave like gentlemen and proper role models for the young. Gentlemen do not invite strippers to their parties. Nor do they (as one Duke lacrosse-team member did, write nasty, if joking, e-mails after serious charges are leveled against them) arguing for murdering young women. So I’m fully in accord that some disciplining of the team is in order, even, possibly, suspension from the team for a while. What I do oppose is calling these young men felons in the press before there is even enough evidence to file felony charges.