Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Duke Rape Sex Scandal: A Summary

Posted in Cornell University, Law, Rape, Scandal, Sex, Sports by Elliott Back on April 19th, 2006.

There’s a lot going around about the Duke Rape Scandal, where the Duke University Men’s Lacrosse Team hired two exotic dancers (read, strippers) for a house party and later allegedly raped one of them upstairs in a bathroom. Besides the issue of rape, there’s also talk of a hate-crime, because the lacrosse team is white except for one member, and the alleged victim black. This post will attempt to present facts surrounding the case, starting with the victim and suspects, circumstances and events, and then commentary.

The Victim

An anonymous 27 year old African American student at North Carolina Central University was allegedly raped by three white lacrosse players at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd, Durham NC 27701. The first page of an application for a search warrant indicates that her initials are GM, after being processed by enhancement software:

duke-rape-victim-name.jpg

abyss2hope argues for identification of the alleged victim on his blog: “Tucker Carlson argued vigorously against Susan Filan, a former prosecutor, that the name of alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case should be made public information.”

The Suspects

Collin Finnerty, 19 of Garden City, N.Y, and Reade Seligmann, 20 of Essex Falls, N.J., are sophomores at Duke University and members of the men’s lacrosse team. As the victim has identified them with “100% certainty,” they have been arrested and charged with first-degree forcible rape, first-degree sexual offense and kidnapping. The defendants posted $400,000 bail. Finnerty was arrested last year for assaulting a man in Washington, D.C. According to the Washington Post, he “called the man derogatory names and anti-gay slurs, then punched him in his face and body when he told them to stop and tried to walk away.”

duke-rape-reade-collin.jpg
Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty

Last month, DNA tests on 46 of the team’s players (the team’s only black player was not tested because the victim identified her assailants as white) matched none of them. District Attorney Mike Nifong has said 75 to 80 percent of rape prosecutions lack DNA evidence. However, since the victim was examined within several hours of the incident, the DNA evidence will be hard for the prosecution to overcome.

Furthermore, Reade Seligmann has an alibi. At 12:24 a.m., his ATM card was used at a nearby Wachovia bank, and a written statement from a cab driver confirms driving him there. At 12:25 he was calling his out-of-state girlfriend. Then, the taxi drivers says that he drove Reade Saligmann to his dorm, where he entered at 12:46, according to electronic card logs.

Finally, the WRAL notes, “An exotic dancer who says three Duke lacrosse players raped her may have identified two of them based on photographs that show scratches on their bodies, a defense attorney for one of the men said Wednesday.” Identification by scratches does not seem to meet the 100% sure figure that the defense quotes for their identification.

The Events

The previously mentioned search warrant has a good outline of the claims that the alleged victim makes:

On 3/14/06 at 1:22am Durham City Police Officers were called to the Kroger on Hillsborough Road. The victim reported to the officers that she had been sexually assaulted at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. The investigation revealed that the victim and another female had an appointment to dance at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. The victim arrived at the residence and joined the other female dancer. The victim reported that they began to preform their dance in master bedroom area.

After a few minute, the males watching them started to get excited and aggressive. The victim and her fellow dancer decided tp leave because they were concerned for their safety. As the two women got into a vehicle, they were approached by one of the suspects. He appoligized and requested they go back inside and continue to dance. Shortly after going back into the dwelling the two women were seperated.

Two males, Adam and Matt pulled her into the bathroom. Someone closed the door to the bathroom where she, and said “sweet heart you can’t leave.” The victim stated she tried to leave and the three males (Adam, Bret, and Matt) force fully held her legs and arms and sexually assaulted her anally vaginally and orally. The victim stated she was hit, kicked, and strangled during the assault and she attempted to defend herself, but was overpowered. The victim reported she was sexually assaulted for an approximate 30 minute time period by the three males.

The Alibi Photo Timeline

There were 19 photos taken with a digital camera, timestamped, at the men’s lacrosse team party. The photos, taken between 11:02 PM and 12:41 AM claim to exonorate at least one suspect. What follows is a description of each photo:

11:02:36 p.m. Men are sitting around the house. Many have plastic cups in their hands.
11:08:28 p.m. Men throw their arms in the air as if they are cheering and posing for the camera.
11:09:25 p.m. A closer picture of a few men posing for the camera.
12:00:12 a.m. The first picture of the dancers. The accuser, wearing pink and white lace lingerie, is lying face down on the floor.
12:00:21 a.m. The accuser and the second dancer are dancing together.
12:00:29 a.m. Dancers are performing. The accuser has what looks like bruising on her knees. Her right shoe is missing from her foot. It can be seen in the background.
12:00:40 a.m. The two dancers are performing. A crowd of about 15 men is visible in the photo. The men are sitting on couches. They are not showing much reaction.
12:02:16 a.m. The accuser is on top of the second dancer. The accuser’s right thumbnail does not have a fingernail or polish on it. Her right pinky nail also does not have a nail. The men are smiling. The dancers are smiling.
12:02:46 a.m. A young man, who appears to be passed out, sitting in a chair.
12:03:57 a.m. The dancers by the door. The accuser’s right shoe is on the floor. The men in the room are sitting.
12:10:39 a.m. A young man passed out. His shorts are slightly pulled down.
12:30:12 a.m. The accuser is on the back steps of the house, alone. Her right shoe is off. She has a purse.
12:30:34 a.m. The accuser is still on the back steps of the house.
12:30:47 a.m. The accuser is on the stairwell of the back steps. Her mouth is open and her teeth are showing.
12:37:58 a.m. The accuser is lying on her back on the back stairs. She has a cut on her right foot. She has cuts on her right butt cheek. The stair rail has pink spots on it.
12:38:07 a.m. The accuser is lying on the back steps. A tan object can be seen in the background.
12:38:18 a.m. The accuser is still on the ground.
12:41:32 a.m. The accuser is seen getting into a black Honda Accord.

That “Vile” Email

duke-rape-ryan-mc-fadyen.jpg

Also of interest is the email that player Ryan McFadyen sent half an hour after the alleged attack, using his email account ryan.mcfadyen@duke.edu. A warrant to search his room in Edens Dormitory on Duke’s West Campus turned up the email. The full text of this email, which is sexually explicit, is not to be found in the mainstream news media. However, an uncensored version of it can be found in an application for a search warrant under the probable cause affidavit:

To whom it may concern

tommrow night, after tonights show, i’ve decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c. all are welcome., however there will be no nudity. i plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex.. all in besides arch and lack please respond

41

Ryan McFadyen was player number 41, and 19 years old. The typographical errors in this email are his. According the Duke University Former Men’s Lacrosse Team Coach Mike Pressler, this email is the cause of the season’s cancellation and his resignation.

That “Vile” Radio Show

On April 17, Michael Savage, a nationally syndicated radio show host said:

The Durham dirt-bag case disgusts me to my core. Here, you have a drunken slut stripping whore accusing men of raping her when there is absolutely no evidence of such a rape other than what comes out of that filthy mouth of hers. And what really gets to me, here, is not only the piling on by the vermin in the media — the spineless eunuchs in the media who are taking the side of an unknown accuser without ever having to ask her one question. What kind of system do we have that anyone can scream rape and not have to show her face, not answer to the public. And, yet, those she accuses are suddenly guilty until they’re proven innocent. This is all the product of the out-of-control lesbian feminist movement.

Bloggers Respond

Mary Katherine Ham writes, “They shouldn’t be presumed guilty because there are racial tensions in Durham; they are not guilty because they are white and privileged and their alleged victim was black; they are not guilty because there is a “culture of sexual entitlement” in collegiate athletics; they are not guilty because they had a stripper at their party.”

La Shawn Barber writes, “Although black-on-white rape is much more common than white-on-black rape, there’s something about the idea of a white man raping a black woman that brings out the retro speeches about slavery, white privilege, patriarchy, and the usual revisionist tirades.”

Talk Left writes, “The accuser got to the party at 11:30 pm. The evidence of sexual activity which the rape exam nurse found to be merely “consistent with” forcible sex, likely happened before she arrived, as did her physical injuries. There was a dispute (and possibly) a scuffle over the money – the players felt ripped off that the girls stopped dancing after just a few minutes and that one of them (the accuser) was too drunk to dance.”

Duke University Responds

The president of Duke University, Richard Brodhead, released the following statement:

For the past month, Durham and the nation have followed the allegations of a serious crime involving members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team. The emerging story has taken new twists and turns virtually every day. In this situation of inflamed passions and painful uncertainty, I have emphasized the importance of not rushing to judgment and allowing the legal system to establish the truth. I’m grateful that other Durham leaders, notably Mayor Bell and North Carolina Central Chancellor Ammons, have urged patience as well.

Today the case has taken a new turn: the grand jury handed down indictments against two students who have since been arrested. District Attorney Nifong will now have an opportunity to present his case, and we will learn on what basis he has pressed his charges. We also move from unfocused speculation about 46 members of the team to the court of law where the guilt or innocence of the individuals charged will be established. It is worth reminding ourselves that in our system of laws, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Many lives have been touched by this case. It has brought pain and suffering to all involved, and it deeply challenges our ability to balance judgment with compassion. As the legal process unfolds, we must hope that it brings a speedy resolution and that the truth of the events is fully clarified.

In the meantime, we have important work to do. The Duke and Durham communities must restore the bonds this episode has strained and learn whatever lessons it affords. Building upon the progress that has been made over the past decades, we must work to create a community that assures respect and dignity for all.

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