“Our sons are spoiled misogynistic bigots.”
–Slate legal columnist Dahlia Lithwick
“In the sordid but contested details of the case, African American women have heard echoes of a history of some white men sexually abusing black women — and a stereotype of black women as hypersexual beings and thus fair game.”
–Washington Post staff writer Lynne Duke
As everyone knows, the Duke lacrosse-team stripper-rape case is now dead in the water. The latest blow to Durham, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong’s prosecution of three lacrosse team members for the supposed crime is the set of court papers filed last week in which it was revealed that the alleged victim’s star witness, fellow stripper Kim Roberts, told the police the night of the rape that the alleged victim’s rape accusation was “a crock”–something that Nifong had somehow left out of his own various filings in the case as well as the 50-70 interviews he gave to journalists during the weeks following the supposed crime (Nifong is now being very, very silent). Then there’s that medical evidence. It consists solely of some swelling of the alleged victim’s vaginal walls. Not surprising, considering that during the couple of days before the supposed crime, the alleged victim had sex with at least three men plus a vibrator (in bit of hotel-room entertainment she?d provided just before the party where the gang rape supposedly occurred).
Nonetheless, as the above snippets above show, the mainstream media from the beginning played the case as a referendum on slavery in the Old South and white male misogyny everywhere. (Lithwick’s main evidence consisted of a clumsy e-mail joke made by a Duke lacrosse player who wasn’t even charged.) The campus at Duke has been plastered with pictures of all 47 members of the lacrosse team, and a Duke English professor called for the expulsion of the entire team.
Only now, with the evidence of innocence piling up–two sets of negative DNA tests, records showing at least two of the three defendants were elsewhere when the supposed rape occurred, and, most damaging of all, the various conflicting stories the victim told authorities that night about what happened to her, including several statements that she had not been raped at all–are the mainstream media gently tiptoeing away from the narrative of race, class, and gender oppression that they had made their own. Read this story from Saturday’s Washington Post, which finally focuses on the cost of the rape accusations to the three young defendants and their families.
A comparison of his words with documents that Nifong gave defense lawyers show that Nifong made what appear to be misstatements about condom use, a purported struggle and a 911 call made by a second dancer, among other things.
Nifong said the assailants might have used condoms; the accuser told an emergency-room nurse none were used, according to a defense filing. Nifong described a violent attack in which the accuser was choked and struggled to breathe; the accuser told a nurse she wasn’t choked, the filing said.
For more details, click here (also courtesy of La Shawn).
I hope these words (quoted in Duke’s story) come back to haunt these speakers:
It is the classic ?nuts and sluts? defense, says Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women and a former prosecutor.
‘It reminds me to some extent of the William Kennedy Smith case, where there was a very organized effort to cast doubt on the victim,’ says Susan Estrich, a law professor at the University of Southern California and a rape survivor. Smith was acquitted in 1991 after a judge’s ruling that neither his sexual history nor the alleged victim’s could be aired in open court.”
Meanwhile, law-blogger Ann Althouse laments:
Women everywhere are hurt by this. After so much work, for decades, to overcome the entrenched belief that women lie about rape, this case is quickly reviving all the old suspicions.
Alas, Ann, the problem is that some women do lie about rape. And some prosecutors use their lies to stoke the fires of racial passions during election years. That’s why it’s a mistake to rely on ideological assumptions instead of facts.