Saturday, April 28, 2007

Duke lacrosse: Ten days in March

What we know as the Duke Lacrosse case began on on 24 March when the News and Observer ran a front page story on a DNA dragnet that a judge ordered for the lax team

DNA tests ordered for Duke athletes
In the thirteen months that followed that story the narrative has veered from one extreme to another. We went from privileged white males committing atrocities on a poor black student to the complete exoneration of the accused.

The story, however, does not begin with Mike Nifong. Nor does it start at 24 March. It begins in the early hours of 14 March when an uncooperative drunk was taken into custody by the Durham police. When she was hauled to Durham Access, she claimed that she had been raped.

The AG's report makes it clear that the charges were bogus and the accuser was never credible. Some officers in the DPD recognized that. Yet, somehow, the DPD pressed forward. They investigated for 10 days and determined that a crime had been committed. Further, they convinced Nifong's office that the DNA dragnet was necessary to solve this (non-existent) crime.

To date, we have very little information on why the DPD came to this conclusion. Nor do we know who the drivers were for the hoax. Nifong may have been at the controls later, but someone else set this train in motion.

Durham city manager Baker is promising a report on the handling of the case by the DPD.

I'm dubious on the value of that report. Baker, after all, is the man who assured us that the accuser never changed her story.

Duke released the March 14 campus police report Tuesday. That came a day after a study found that Duke administrators were slow to act because their initial internal police report indicated Durham officers had said only misdemeanor charges were likely.

Baker, who spoke with police officials Tuesday about the chain of events, bristled at the implication that city officers did not believe the accuser. He said that the incident was classified as a sexual assault about 30 minutes after the woman arrived at the hospital and that investigators were quickly put on the case.

"Any assertion that the Durham Police Department didn't take this case seriously or indicated that it would blow over is completely contradicted by the facts and our actions," Baker said.

Baker said he has never received any indication that the woman said she was raped by 20 men or that she changed her story.

"I have no idea where that came from," Baker said. "I've had a lot of conversations with the investigators in this case and with officials at Duke, and at no time did anyone indicate the accuser changed her story. If that were true, I'm sure someone would have mentioned it to me
Off the top of my head, i can think of a bunch of questions that need answers.

1. Why did the police lie about the Kroger's call? Why did they tell a judge in their applications for warrants that the accuser called 911 to report the rape?

2. Why did the police pretend that they did not know who made the first 911 call? (The one that claimed that a crowd was hurling racial slurs at passing motorists). Very early on DPD knew that the call was made by Kim. Yet they released it to the public and pretended that they did not know who made it.

3, Why did the police use list-servs and CrimeStoppers to solicit information from the public while they neglected to interview the neighbor, Bissey, until he contacted them? What kind of investigation were they running?

4. Why did the DPD tell Baker that the accuser never changed her story?

5. Why does the DPD permit investigators to dispense with notes and rely on their memory alone?

6. Why was the DPD so uninterested in Precious's cell phone?

7. Why did the DPD disregard Sgt. Shelton's assessment of Precious? He was on the scene and events have shown that he was correct. Yet, the DPD ignored him and bought into the hoax.

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