The Devils and Mr. Nifong

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This was a mess from the start, and remains so. Prosecutors in the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case did today (curiously) what they probably should have done a long time ago – dropped rape charges against three young men accused of attacking a student/stripper at a team party. Charges of kidnapping and sexual misconduct remain but the highly-charged allegations that captivated the nation – and forced us to look at the ugly side of privilege, race and sexuality – are gone.

And rightfully so. As much as anyone wanted to believe that the 28-year-old student from nearby North Carolina Central could have been attacked vaginally, anally and orally by three men and the party, as she stated, each passing day cast a ever-thickening cloud over the charges. From this view, lacking DNA evidence and credibility issues creeping up like weeds, it’s long been clear that the prosecutors would never be able to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Today, on a day (the Friday before Christmas) when few would pay much attention, they finally admitted it themselves: Lacking any “scientific or other evidence independent of the victim’s testimony” to corroborate that aspect of the case, District Attorney Mike Nifong wrote in a statement, “the State is unable to meet its burden of proof with respect to this offense.”


There are victims here almost too numerous to count – most particularly the student/stripper, her disloyal publicity-seeking partner, the young men, their families, two universities and an entire town. And there are few lessons, save filling our sons with a healthier dose of respect for women than the young men of the Duke lacrosse team displayed, and boosting our daughters with enough tools and self-esteem that they’ll never have to resort to such measures in order to pay their bills. (As Chris Rock says, Our only job as fathers is to “keep you daughter off the pole.”

Let’s also not return to our respective parts of town without understanding what role we all played in this mess. Privilege does not grant entitlement to those blessed with wealth, status and access to the best of everything. In fact, with such privilege comes a deeper responsibility to show humility, compassion and a real understanding that There But for the Grace of God…

Perhaps those the three young men who’s lives changed all for a party, their teammates, families and others of their ilk, will embrace that lesson as they return to their side of town tonight. But why do I think not?


7 thoughts on “The Devils and Mr. Nifong

  1. visitor says:

    This case was entirely media driven.

    Exactly how many cases of white men gang-raping black – or for that matter any
    other race women can anyone cite?

  2. TI think it was politically driven. The prosecutor was running for re-election and did what he could to stay in office. I am starting to believe he never truly felt he had a case. What a waste. As for the media, I actually think it did a pertty good job covering the case. They brought out both sides from the beginning and shed light on the NCCU position and the tensions from boths sides of town. I’ve seen a lot worse.

  3. Hayduke says:

    The false accuser is a victim???
    Give me a fu

  4. Hayduke says:

    The false accuser is a victim???
    Give me a flippin’ break.

    A just world would try her for filing a false complaint, with the punishment being equal to what a rape conviction would carry.

  5. Richard says:

    I agree with Roy, and I think the story of the prosecutor running for re-election is not being told enough. It should be mentioned everytime this case is brought up. Without that information, it’s impossible to put the facts being reported in perspective. Many people (today) are confused by how this process has gotten to this point, but if ESPN reported that the prosecutor filed these changes in the run-up to a political campaign, the story would seem much clearly to those who are not digging into the details.

  6. All of that being said, I’m not particularly comfortable with this woman being deemed “the accuser” versus “alleged victim”. Words matter, and the fact that the more harsh sounding accuser is used will definitely have a chilling affect on women who have been the victims of sexual assaults.

  7. Jake's Opine says:

    In this polarized case the one thing that everyone is so willing to overlook is the character or lack thereof these young men/student athletes exhibited by hiring strippers. I’m almost positive that goes against the hallowed honor code at Duke University. Furthermore, these fellas are far from saintly so let’s not paint them as such. Sure they were getting railroaded but how many African Americans/Latinos/and poor people are still sitting in a jail cell for the same kind of cases.

    I’ve heard the N-word and primate references showered on African American athletes by inebriated WASPs from the “upper-crust” families. Upper-crust of the toilet bowl maybe. But I digress. The accused players may not have been guilty of rape and sodomy but they were definitely guilty of being callous and low-brow.

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