Monday, July 03, 2006


The parents of Collin Finnerty showed up on TV the other day supporting their son’s defense against rape charges in the Duke/Lacrosse scandal. Collin is the defendant who has a previous case pending for gay-bashing.

The parents were certain that their son did not rape the stripper. No one seems to deny that these college jocks hired a stripper. No one seems to question the propriety of college students hiring strippers. No one, that is, but Pudinhand Wilson and I.

“What’s up with students hiring other students to be strippers?” Pud asked.

“If there are fellow students in such poverty that they would consider degrading themselves by stripping for cash, it seems that these fine young men, as we’ve heard they are all fine young men, would have found a way to help such fellow students, and not have taken advantage.”

“I thought that’s what being a Christian nation is all about.”

“It’s like the parents are saying, ‘We raised our son to always show respect to the sex workers he hires’.”

“Illegal immigrants, college kids hiring strippers,” Pud made his grand two-armed sweep, “it’s about slavery. The desire to own slaves is alive and well in the heart of man.”

When Pud and I were in college we barely knew where our next bag of dope was coming from let alone having the wherewithall to hire a stripper. The kids we hung with were more likely to do the stripping than the hiring. I feel this same dichotomy even now when I’m taken to a fancy restaurant: I identify with the serving staff much more than with my fellow diners.

I guess that’s how I wind up with friends like Pud.

Thank God!

----- o -----


Anonymous said...

Ever since every sexist and racist group descended onto Duke to publicly condemn these boys, I went into over drive trying to make people consider that these boys wouldn't have submitted to DNA testing if they were guilty, but since the 1st DNA evidence came back, I became more persistent and met equally persistent feminist (i.e. feministing, Rachael’s Tavern, Alas a blog, Tennessee Guerrilla Women, Justice4Sisters, Hazel8500 etc...) who adamantly insist these boys are guilty for no other reason than because a "woman" (i.e. the stripper) claims it so.

I've noticed since then that most of feminist blogs have fallen silent as new evidence suggests that the stripper's claim to be false.

However, just when you think this case hit rock bottom, there’s about 50 feet of crap, then you find a sub-basement where in the corner Mike Nifong is hunched over clutching this dead case like “Gulum” (movie: Lord of the Rings) clutches the “ring of power”.

A great place to view that unbiased facts is:

“If Mike Nifong doesn't get disbarred after this, then there really is a corrupt system in Durham that protects rich white guys. In Nifong's case - stupid rich white guys with transparent political agendas.”

I thought the stripper had serious integrity issues, but seems to Nifong have serious integrity issues of his own. Publicly trying to convict and condemn these boys in the media is unethical to say the least, but fabricating a case to convict these boys in court is criminal

Anonymous said...

On Monday, May 15, a Durham County grand jury handed up a third indictment in the nothing-short-of-notorious Duke rape case. This latest indictment charges the lacrosse team's captain, David Evans, with first-degree rape, first-degree sexual assault, and first-degree kidnapping.

The charges against Evans are identical to those handed up last month against fellow players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. Still, this final indictment does come as a bit of surprise. As I detailed in a prior column, the cases against Seligmann and Finnerty appear quite weak. As I'll discuss in this column, the case against Evans may be even shakier. It's true that the grand jury did return indictments against Evans, and previously against the other two. It's also true that the District Attorney, Mike Nifong, is forging ahead -- seemingly undeterred.

But Nifong's judgment has been poor all along- and the old adage that a D.A. can get a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich" shouldn't be forgotten. Without defense attorneys there to test the prosecutor's evidence via the invaluable process of cross-examination, weak evidence can be made to look pretty convincing. It's not the grand jury's fault; it's just the reality that if you only hear one side, you tend to believe it.

At least a ham sandwich has some weight to it. As I'll explain in this column, the Evans indictment - like the two that preceded it - does not. The very evidence that may have convinced the grand jury - accuser identification and new DNA evidence - is just the kind that will ultimately fall apart when defense attorneys finally do get to cross-examine the witnesses presenting it.

The Mounting Evidence in Favor of Defendants' Innocence

All three defendants in the Duke lacrosse case have unfailingly and repeatedly proclaimed their innocence - Evans doing so most eloquently, on behalf of all three men, in a brief public comment following his being formally charged.

In fact, in a highly unusual move, newly indicted defendant Evans went to so far as to volunteer to take a lie detector test at the direction of law enforcement. When the D.A. refused, Evans enlisted a top polygrapher to administer the test anyway. He passed.

Thus far, the defense camp has come forward with a host of seemingly reliable, exculpatory evidence -evidence that will be admissible in court, and that is likely to sway a jury. I'm not talking about, maybe, kinda, sorta, or could be, exculpatory evidence either. I'm talking about weighty evidence - receipts, photos, phone records, alibi witnesses, an absence of DNA, and now actual DNA - that directly supports the defendants' claims of innocence.

A plethora of proof supporting a defendant's claim of innocence - not just the government's failure to carry its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt -- is a rare pearl in the practice of criminal defense. It should cause the D.A. to reassess his case.

The Problems with the Accuser's "Identification" of Evans

In my prior columns, I discussed the problems with evidence against Seligmann - who has strong evidence supporting an alibi - and, to a lesser extent, against Finnerty. The evidence against Evans is also weak, maybe even more so.

Evans reportedly was not initially indicted, with the other two, because the accuser couldn't identify him with certainty (only with "90 percent certainty," in her words) from a photo lineup. Ten percent doubt sounds like a lot like reasonable doubt to me - and perhaps, at least initially, it sounded that way to D.A. Nifong too. And if the accuser herself has reasonable doubt, how can a prosecution go forward?
The accuser's lack of certainty is even more worrisome in light of the fact that the photo lineup was grossly biased. It included only Duke lacrosse players - meaning that the accuser had no choice but to select a Duke lacrosse player if she were to select anyone at all. And this photo lineup was apparently the sole means of identification for all three defendants.

Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, the accuser is reported to have said that Evans's photo "looks just like [one of my assailants] without the mustache." According to Evans's defense lawyer, Evans has never worn a mustache. And party photos support this contention.

For all these reasons, the accuser's identification testimony is likely to be destroyed upon cross-examination.

The Problems with the New DNA Evidence

Besides the accuser's testimony, prosecutors also presented to the grand jury the results of a second round of DNA testing.

Readers may recall that the first round of DNA testing was, if anything, exculpatory: There was no DNA match whatsoever linking any of the forty-six lacrosse players whose DNA was taken, to the accuser.
Following those results, D.A. Nifong reportedly hired a private lab to re-test certain samples. In so doing, the new lab found a possible connection between defendant Evans and the accuser's discarded fake fingernail, found in the trash bin inside the bathroom.

To begin, it's awfully odd that the fake fingernail found its way into the trash bin in the first place, if a rape really occurred, and if the fake fingernail broke off during the victim's struggle, as she claims. No victim would clean up after her accusers; she would flee the scene. And if a culprit had the presence of mind to clean up -- realizing that the fake fingernail might be evidence against him -- surely he wouldn't just drop it in the trash can in the very room where the rape occurred, for police to easily find.

Significantly, too, defense attorneys claim the DNA material was found on the front of the nail -- not on the underside, where it would logically have lodged had the accuser scratched and clawed at her attackers as she claims.

But even putting these points aside, the DNA connection to Evans is weak. To begin, this isn't remotely close to the kind of "match" you may be familiar with from CSI - the kind where the odds of a false positive are infinitesimally small. Indeed, "match" here is a misnomer. All that can be said is that the DNA is "consistent" with DNA voluntarily supplied early on by Evans.
Shocking? Hardly. Evans lived in the house, and therefore may have, from time to time, blown his nose, swabbed an ear, or otherwise disposed of DNA-laden waste into that very trashcan.

Moreover, it was reportedly Evans himself who fished the fake nail from the garbage, voluntarily handing it over to police and maybe, just maybe, shedding some skin cells in the process.

As for direct evidence of sex, there is none; none from any of the forty lacrosse players, that is.
While the second round of DNA testing proved that semen was found inside the accusers vaginal cavity, spokespersons close to the defense are confident the source of the semen is the accuser's own boyfriend.
In sum, after cross-examination, there is little, if any, chance that a jury will give weight to this DNA evidence. It clashes with the accuser's own story, and it's as fully consistent with Evans's innocence as it is with his guilt.

The D.A.'s Unusual Hostility to Even Viewing Defense Evidence

Defense lawyers have repeatedly implored District Attorney Nifong to meet with them and to examine the evidence that favors the defendants. But Nifong has said no - with an attitude that boils down to, "Talk to the hand."

That's unusual. More often than not, prosecutors are quite open to exchanging - or at least being entertained by - the defense's evidence. After all, it provides them with a valuable preview of what the defense's case may ultimately look like in court. Prosecutors are legally required to turn over certain evidence to the defense, but no obligation runs the other way. And since the defense goes second, prosecutors may not be able to effectively counter defense "surprises."

For prosecutors, meeting with the defense is thus typically a win-win situation: If they are convinced to drop the case, then that's embarrassing - but far less than as a loss at trial would have been. If they aren't convinced to drop the case, they've gotten a precious new edge at trial. And either way, both the reality and appearance of fairness to the defendants are enhanced.

Giving a defendant a lie detector test, in contrast, isn't a win-win situation: It may hurt prosecutors' case if the results are released to the public. (Lie detector results are rarely - if ever - admissible in court.) But at the same time, a lie detector test - while risky, and far from perfect - is likely to get prosecutors closer to the truth, which is supposed to be what they are after.

As noted above, in this case, Evans claims Nifong refused to give Evans a lie detector test. (He ultimately took one himself, and passed.) In my professional experience, a prosecutor's refusing to administer a lie detector test to a defendant is nearly unheard-of. The defendant's answers - and the lie detector's response to them - may provide the prosecutor with a road map to what his vulnerabilities on the stand may be.

Just as meeting with the defense previews the defense case for prosecutors, administering a lie detector can preview the defendant's testimony, as well as his on-the-stand demeanor, showing prosecutors what kind of a witness he will be. (Confident? Nervous? Shifty? Solid?)

I can't help but believe that, were any of these defendants to assert that they had proof that a crime was indeed committed, this district attorney would be all ears. Suppose, for instance, that Seligmann or Evans were to turn on Finnerty, to try to save themselves - surely Nifong would happily hear them out. So how can the prosecutor justify, then, turning a blind eye to evidence of any of the accused's innocence?

Anonymous said...

Comparing LAX case to that of Scottsboro Nine

I am a college instructor who teaches criminal justice and a criminal defense attorney. In my entire career I have never seen such a bizarre and unfair case as the one against three Duke lacrosse players.

I teach a class about a similar case in American history, the Scottsboro Nine. In March 1931, a group of nine black teen-agers was charged with rape on incredibly flimsy evidence in Scottsboro, Ala. The nine were originally charged with the rape of two white women. Even after one woman testified that she lied about the rape, the nine teens continued to face rape charges and the threat of death by execution.

In the Scottsboro case, the two women were part-time prostitutes, but that didn't matter, nor did it matter that at least one of the boys was known to be physically unable to have sex, and two of the boys were only 13. Like Durham, the real issue was race.

In Scottsboro, nine young men were wrongly charged and condemned because they were black, and today the Duke lacrosse players have, in my opinion, been wrongly charged and condemned because they are white and the alleged victim is black.

The one constant with respect to the two cases is racism. I often ask my students if it possible for blacks to discriminate against whites in the same type of mindless ignorance as the KKK or the way the mob went after the Scottsboro Nine. The answer I receive is yes, and my students point to Durham as proof.

Anonymous said...

It’s amazing how just by claiming a person to be a “mother” puts a “halo” on her head. Ms. Grissom claims that some women have no other option to provide for herself and her children which paints a picture of a selfless martyr, but this is misleading especially regarding this particular “single mom”. This single mom and her children live with their grandfather so the threat of being homeless or hungry is unlikely. This single mom has been arrested in for larceny and evading police, which doesn’t fit the mold of “martyr”. This single mom arrived at the party inebriated and was found drunk and disorderly in a parking lot, but looking at this woman as an individual instead of a sexist stereotype reveals a more realistic picture of this single mom which dims her halo.
Ms. Grissom goes on to rants that criticizing this woman “hinges on blaming the victim”. This single mom is not a victim. This single mom is an “accuser”. There’s enough evidence to question her integrity and whether a crime actually occurred. I find it hypocritical that Ms. Grissom so easily gives this “single mom” the benefit of the doubt while condemning a group of boys who happen to be on a sports team. People should avoid stereotypes and focus on each individual, including the “accuser”, as a person.
The actions of District Attorney Mike Nifong have been reckless and irresponsible in playing out this case before the national media. This has inflamed racial stereotypes throughout Durham which makes it more important that everyone take a step back and let the police do their job. If this woman lied; thus exposing Nifong as a fool, then she should be prosecuted for this crime, which have destroyed these young boys’ lives and reputations. Being a “single mom” shouldn’t be an excuse to condone this type of behavior.
Rape shields were created in the 1970s to protect the alleged “victim” from having her reputation ruined by baseless assumptions, unfair judgments, public humiliation, and character assassinations, but any of this could describe what’s happening to every member of the lacrosse team.
Irresponsible “special interest groups” have held protests everyday holding the name and pictures of anyone on the lacrosse team, to having their pictures and hate slogans pasted all over school. The actions of these groups against these men are nothing short of harassment and unfair character assassination.
Media hungry District Attorney Mike Nifong stated he is positive a rape has occurred, but he isn’t sure if it’s by the members of the lacrosse team, yet he obtained an order to get DNA samples from only the members of the team, then he stated on a national news program that the lacrosse team has a “rowdy” reputation on campus – obviously playing up to sexist stereotyping of jocks to further play his case for the media. As Nifong continues to publicly massacre the characters out his case for public consumption, he claims that the team is “stonewalling the investigation” because they claim not to have any knowledge of what transpired, but is Nifong now believing the men to be telling the truth as he recently changed his tune stating that even if the DNA evidence clears these boys that he’ll have other evidence.
Opportunistic political groups have descended on Duke’s campus using unscrupulous methods to get media attention at the expense of innocent young men who happen to be on the lacrosse team. Young men who were too recently, only boys not yet ready to handle this ugly side of the world. In today’s climate, we need the rape shield laws extended to protect all the innocent, including those who just happen to get in the way of media hungry district attorneys and opportunistic political groups.
District Attorney Mike Nifong’s should be held accountable for the irresponsible actions he’s taken in this rape investigation.
The boys are being tried in the national media before there is any charge are made. Nifong stated that someone else could have assaulted the 27 year old stripper, yet he publicly damned the men’s lacrosse team and only the men’s lacrosse team as gang rapist, and still not knowing whether or not the “alleged victim” was telling the truth, or if the three men sought are on the team, Nifong claims the team is stonewalling to protect its own.
In response, daily protest are held with hate comments made directly to the lacrosse teammates, pictures of the teammates with rape slogans are plastered all over Duke’s campus, and now gang members are driving by the east campus threatening students.
Nifong’s circus-like antics to perform for the national media has put the whole campus in danger.
Nifong proclaimed in the national media that the DNA sweep of 46 boys would find the guilty and clear the innocent. DNA tests prove that the boys of the lacrosse team were telling the truth, but Nifong wants to go ahead with the case only weeks before his election against a woman and a black man. There should be laws in place to prevent unscrupulous politician like District Attorney Mike Nifong from bulldozing over 47 innocent boys just to bask in the international media spot-light.

Anonymous said...

Not only did the Duke stripper/hooker degrade herself by stripping, she also degraded herself by being dishonorably discharged from the Navy, having a child by another man while being married, stealing a car, trying to kill a police officer, and making a flase claim of rape to get out of being arrested.

Anonymous said...

Duke Lacrosse Rape Accuser Mentioned No Condoms Were Used
It seems the defense keeps finding more to support their side of things, with each new piece of information they get. Now from that stack of 1,300 papers, they have discovered that the stripper accuser mentioned no condoms were used. No condoms and…
The stripper’s body was completely void of any sign of a sexual assault (except for signs of recent vaginal and anal from her boyfriend). The alleged crime scene was completely devoid of DNA.

It is impossible that a crime scene with three drunk men in a small enclosed room with a fighting and clawing woman being orally, virginally, and anally penetrated not leave any DNA evidence of urine, blood, vaginal fluid, sweat, fecal matter, scat smears, saliva, tears, or semen... especially if condoms were used. How would they take off the condoms during all this chaos without spilling, smearing, or touching the content inside or outside of the condom?

When investigators questioned the stripper after DNA tests on the semen found inside her vagina and rectum didn’t match any of the Duke players, the stripper admitted to having had sex with at least three men around the time of the alleged rape. The stripper named her boyfriend and two men who drove her to Duke. She also confessed to using a vibrating sex toy vaginally during a performance, prior to the Duke party, for a man and woman.

When questioned, the “drivers” said they would drop her off at several places, including hotel rooms.

Many sexist and feminist groups have marketed this stripper as a courageous single mother, but new information seem to tarnish her “halo”.

sfwillie said...

I think my post was about college kids hiring strippers--a fact not in dispute.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with watching naked women dance, so unclench.