The events surrounding an alleged rape by members of Duke’s lacrosse team are subject to a great deal of confusion. Unfortunately, the players, the alleged victim, the attorneys involved in the case as well as all those surrounding the case – such as the NAACP – have made things worse. No party has shown any semblance of a wise strategy, and thus everyone is confused.
The victim has changed her story more than once. Her account of what happened does not agree with that of Kim Roberts, her coworker on the night in question. Roberts has said the rape accusation is “a crock.” Not only that, there is little physical evidence with which to confirm the charge. There is no DNA evidence to link the three white lacrosse players to the dancer, who is also a college student. The accuser’s anatomy was consistent with a woman who recently had sex, but she not only had a boyfriend with whom she had consensual sex, she also performed with an adult toy. There is no evidence that the sex was forced, or that any members of the lacrosse team had sex with her.
The lacrosse players made a mistake by cooperating with the police. When police question suspects, they are not acting in that suspect’s interests. They are acting in the interests of the state. Anyone accused of anything needs to have legal representatives present during questioning to make sure his/her story is understood, as well as to confirm that unnecessary questions are not answered.
The attorneys, too, have made mistakes. The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, has come across as an overly aggressive public avenger in much of the press, and the defense attorneys have essentially accused the alleged victim of making a false claim. False rape claims are extremely uncommon. Rape is actually one of the most under-reported crimes.
Black leaders have also taken interest in the case, but their rhetoric is disturbing. Rev. William Barber told the Associated Press that “vigilante” justice by the public should not be tolerated. Such an expectation is insulting. There is no evidence yet, and a trial has been scheduled. Barber’s followers are not a pack of wild animals, and to assume they would even consider such foolish behavior is ridiculous.
The issue at hand is what, if anything, happened at a house in Durham on March 13. Contradictory testimony, groups with political agendas, the bantering of attorneys outside the courtroom and the history of race relations in America are simply not going to settle it.