Friday, April 21, 2006

Welcome to Duke University, Inmate #113132

It's not so much that there are some pretty repulsive allegations being addressed in the media. It's not that it's a black, working-class single mother who was performing as a stripper at a private, off-campus Lacrosse party attended by mainly young white guys. It's not so much that a variety of these guys have criminal records as a result of assault and other physically anti-social behavior in a number of settings.

It's that none of this should be national news until someone is convicted, whether of rape, kidnapping, assault or perjury.

Every time I see the two players' faces from Duke who were indicted this week, I recall memories of Tawana Brawley, Al Sharpton, and then the Menendez brothers (Kyle and Eric), and subsequently I harken back to the good old days when we didn't get force-fed these types of cases by lawyers looking merely to gain the public's trust with what usually amounts to grandstanding and bullshit. What is disturbing about this particular case are the particulars: there was no DNA match between any of the players at the party and the complainant; after the 30-minute assault apparently occurred, rather than go right to the police, the woman opted to go to a supermarket; and finally, there had been some sort of dispute that led to the woman and a friend of hers leaving the premises, only to return a bit later, at which time, she claims, the assult occurred.

If she indeed was sexually assaulted, I feel badly for her. Personally, I think there's a lot more to the story than she's revealing -- hence the mention of Tawana Brawley's name. However, what is also disturbing is Duke's willingness, up to the national scope of this matter, to ignore the obvious problems inherent with the lacrosse team's blatant behavioral issues. Based on a number of sources I've seen over the past week or two, there are a variety of on-campus and off-campus complaints against the lacrosse team during the past few years, which include things like disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, and assault with intent to commit bodily harm. In other words, there are at least a few members of this team who have been acting like thugs for awhile and the University hasn't done a thing about it.

I don't really care one way or the other about this case, excepting the fact that if this woman was indeed assaulted by these students (I can't rightly refer to them as men) than I hope those responsible are punished severely. If she indeed is the second coming of Tawana Brawley, then I hope she is punished. And I hope that any attorneys involved with this case who have made false statements to the press merely to sway the court of public opinion are found in contempt and fined exorbitantly.

Moreover, if it's not to much to ask, I'd hope that one day these types of repulsive crimes stop and that attorneys for the people that perpetrate them are forced to find legitimate, non-self-serving work.

In the meantime, back in reality, this case -- and its messy, contradicting details -- are just beginning to surface, and it will be quite some time before -- if ever -- this all gets unraveled, all before our waiting, hungry eyes. Better get your anti-nausea pills -- you're (eventually) going to need them.

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