On March 27, 2006, with Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong charging that gang rapists were being protected by a code of silence among members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, The News & Observer's Ruth Sheehan (a rape victim) believed it and railed against that alleged silence.
Ms. Sheehan's "Team's silence is sickening" was an impassioned plea for honesty.
"Members of the Duke men's lacrosse team: You know.
"We know you know.
"Whatever happened in the bathroom at the stripper party gone terribly terribly bad, you know who was involved. Every one of you does.
"And one of you needs to come forward and tell the police.
"Do not be afraid of retribution on the team. Do not be persuaded that somehow this 'happened' to one or more 'good guys.'
"If what the strippers say is true -- that one of them was raped, sodomized, beaten and strangled -- the guys responsible are not 'good.'
"This seems an elementary statement, I know.
"But I can see loyal team members sitting around convincing themselves that it would be disloyal to turn on their teammates -- why, the guys who were involved were just a little 'over the top.' In real life, they're funny. They call their mothers once a week. They share class notes with friends. They attend church.
"On this night, they were just a little too drunk, a little too 'worked up.' It was a scene straight out of "I am Charlotte Simmons' by Tom Wolfe. Indicative of the times.
"The alleged racial epithets slung at the strippers, who were black? Those were just ... jokes. Ditto for the ugly remarks overheard by a neighbor: 'Thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt.' Har, har.
"After all, these guys are not just Duke students, but student athletes. The collegiate dream.
"And the women? They were... strippers, for Pete's sake.
"I can see the team going down this path, justifying its silence. And it makes me sick.
"Because, of all the occupational hazards that must come with stripping, one of them should not be rape. And no, forced sex by a hunky prep student doesn't make it better.
"Unfortunately, because the team members are students at such a fine university, there is a tendency to presume that this was an aberration. That these players are 'good guys.'
"I see it in the references to the 'Animal House' atmosphere allowed to flourish at the team captains' house.
"I sense it in the 'dismay' expressed by athletics director Joe Alleva over the 'situation' -- the hiring of the strippers and the (shocking!) serving of alcohol to underage teammates.
"But drunken parties are one thing. The implication that this event, if true, is somehow a bash that 'got out of hand' is just plain wrong.
"Rape is not part of a spectrum of behavior, the regrettable end game when testosterone and beer are ignited by a shaking booty and fanned into flames by the larger team's permission.
"No. Rape is a crime. A very serious one.
"Those who commit it are criminals, not 'good guys.'
"I don't know what happened in that house, and in that bathroom, over in Durham. Ultimately, that will be a matter for the court system to decide. But who was in that room is something the police need to know. Now.
"They shouldn't have to wait for 46 DNA samples to be returned.
"Every member of the men's lacrosse team knows who was involved, whether it was gang rape or not.
"Until the team members come forward with that information, forfeiting games isn't enough.
"Shut down the team."
It is elementary, my dear Ruth, that rape is a serious crime and a person accused of raping a party goer in a bathroom needs to be identified as fast as possible, so that a rape accusation can be quickly and competently investigated.
That applies regardless of the race, color, creed, national origin or, yes, sex of the accuser and the accused, and regardless of how many are accused.
In the so-called Duke case, the people at the party were swiftly and voluntarily identified.
No male could be identified as having been in a bathroom with the false accuser (Crystal Gail Mangum) for a legitimate reason: no one was.
Now there is another rape claim involving Duke that is under investigation.
This time the accuser is a young white female Duke student and the accused is an unidentified (but described) young black male.
The alleged rape allegedly occurred in an alleged bathroom in an alleged house in which an alleged off-campus party allegedly was being held.
The News & Observer reported it this way, in an article by Jessica Rocha dated February 12, 2007 and entitled "Duke student says she was raped":
"DURHAM - Police are investigating allegations that a Duke University student was raped at an off-campus party on Gattis Street around 3 a.m. Sunday.
"More than 50 people attended a rowdy party over the weekend at 405 Gattis St., a duplex where several male Duke students live, according to Durham police. Neighbors said large number of cars were parked along the street and loud music blared from the house.
"An 18-year-old woman said she was raped in a bathroom of the residence, according to a Durham police news release.
"Police had not charged anyone but released a description of a suspect. The man is described as being in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-foot-1 and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans, according to a police news release.
"Early Sunday afternoon, beer cans and bottles were strewn throughout the lawn and bushes of the residence. Blue and red disposable cups perched on a column pedestal on the front porch, and a half-dozen black garbage bags had been put in the trash, holding the trappings of a standard college party: water bottles, pizza boxes, plastic foam plates.
"The allegations come two weeks after Duke released a discipline report showing that off-campus incidents processed by Duke's Office of Judicial Affairs had dropped 85 percent in the summer and fall of 2006 compared to the same period the previous year. The report attributed the drop in incidents to several factors, including reaction to sexual assault allegations stemming from a March 2006 off-campus party attended by members of the Duke men's lacrosse team.
"Three of the team's former players have been charged with sexually assaulting a woman who had been hired to perform at the party.
"The players maintain their innocence, and rape charges were dropped after the accuser later told an investigator she could not be sure intercourse had occurred.
"A news release issued by Duke University late Sunday said campus officials are cooperating with Durham police in their investigation and providing support to the woman involved.
"Anyone with information about Sunday's incident is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 683-1200. Callers don't have to identify themselves, and cash rewards can be paid for information leading to arrests."
A Durham source who prefers to remain anonymous provided me with a detail omitted in The News & Observer article but very likely to help with tracking down the alleged rapist: the alleged rapist's skin color (black), as well as the name of the fraternity that alleged hosted the alleged party: Phi Beta Sigma, founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students with high ideals.
Not naming the alleged party host is one thing, but, with the alleged rapist not yet reported as apprehended, failure to point out the alleged color of the alleged rapist's alleged skin is...unhelpful. THAT kind of racial profiling only makes good sense.
My source advised: "There is one MAJOR DETAIL that no news organization is disclosing about this latest rape case. I only know it because I was invited to the party.... The party where the rape occurred was thrown by the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, an all black fraternity that only allows African-Americans to join and many of its members are indeed varsity athletes at Duke university. After the alleged lacrosse rape Nifong held a meeting at NC Central University where black student after black student stood up and essentially said, 'we all know that if the victim where white and the accused people were black athletes they would be in jail right now.' It is obvious that that is absolute garbage because now we have almost exactly that situation and NOBODY is even paying attention. It hardly makes the local news here in Durham, NC. There is a huge bias and double standard in the media and for media outlets to continue to say that black Americans are discriminated against is not just untrue but completely hypocritical."
Ruth, should the fraternity chapter be shut down until the alleged rapist is identified? (I don't think so, but perhaps you do.)
How about condemning silence again and urging party goers to come forward to identify the alleged (black) person "in his late teens or early 20s, about 6-foot-1 and wearing a black do-rag, a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans"? It's reasonable to believe that someone at the alleged party might know or at least remember seeing the alleged person and, if so, that person's silence in the circumstances would be...sickening.
Of course, it's possible that no one at the party recognized or saw the alleged person, so let's not have a wanted poster with photos of all the alleged party goers.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.