The story the
News & Observer ran on Sunday about the lacrosse situation is important
and demands some more careful reading. So here's what we got out of
it. If we missed critical stuff, please let us know.
We'll get to the contradictions in the account(s) of the evening by the AV
shortly. First, let's consider what is now known about the actions of the
District Attorney and the investigators.
- District Attorney Mike Nifong suggested that the alleged attackers may
have used condoms when his own records clearly showed the AV said they did
not. Either he lied or he's incompetent (or both).
- "On March 31, Nifong sat with Gottlieb and Himan, the two
investigators, to discuss another lineup procedure. According to Gottlieb's
notes, Nifong suggested that, instead of a lineup or photographic array,
they simply have the accuser look at each picture and recall if she saw the
person at the party...The lineup Nifong suggested violated the Durham Police
Department guidelines, which call for photographic arrays to include at
least five nonsuspects for every suspect in the lineup. Police and
prosecutors had named all 46 players as suspects. The guidelines also called
for an independent administrator to conduct the lineup, not an investigator
in the case."
- Nifong has refused to consider exulpatory evidence in the case, which is
presenting the case to a grand jury, Nifong met on April 11 with the
accuser, Gottlieb, Himan and another officer, according to Himan's notes.
Neither police nor prosecutors have produced any account of this meeting."
- On April 17, Nifong "personally downgraded" Kim Roberts' bond status.
- On April 18, her story changed.
- Also on April 17, Nifong was still trying to determine if AV had done
anything which might have resulted in trauma to her vagina and had clearly
not ruled out other sources of vaginal swelling (for instance, the couple
for whom she masturbated with a vibrator). He was also still trying to
arrange secondary DNA tests with a lab in Burlington.
- At dawn on April 18, he indicted Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnerty.
Here are some critical quotes from the article:
had brought charges in the most publicized case in Durham County history. He
had said repeatedly on national television that he was certain the dancer
had been raped. Yet the prosecutor was still trying to rule out other
explanations for the vaginal swelling a hospital noted in its examination of
words and actions of police and prosecutors had outpaced the facts in the
file, and not for the first time. The case, which began at a college team
party on a warm March evening, quickly drew national attention to Duke,
Durham and to North Carolina's justice system â even as the prosecutor's
version started to unravel.
examining the files Nifong has produced in the case, The News & Observer
found that the accuser gave at least five different versions of the alleged
assault to different police and medical interviewers and made shaky
identifications of suspects. To get warrants, police made statements that
weren't supported by information in their files.
district attorney commented publicly about the strength of the medical
evidence before he had seen it. He promised DNA evidence that has not
materialized. He suggested that police conduct lineups in a way that
conflicted with department policy."
Kim Roberts has been all over the map, but her original comments are worth
- Where AV had said the players lied about what team they were on, Roberts
looked at a drivers license and police notes suggest she knew they were the
- After the notorious broomstick remark, Roberts and AV went to the
bathroom. Roberts said she wanted to leave and went out to her car.
According to Roberts, some of the lacrosse players came out and said AV had
passed out on the back steps.
- When first advised that AV was alleging rape, Roberts said, "that's a
The AV told at least five different stories about the evening.
Depending on the version, the following may or may not have happened:
- Kim Roberts stole everything from her.
- The men groped her but didn't rape her.
- Roberts tried to get her into the bathroom with five guys who raped her.
- The alleged rapists "[s]eparated us at the master bedroom door while
we tried to hold on to each other."
- Roberts said she wanted to leave, while the accuser wanted to stay and
make more money.
- Roberts wanted AV to have sex with "Brett." Roberts and
"Brett" carried her back into the house where she was raped by the
- Roberts tried to get her to drink more so they could make more
- The AV claimed to have had one drink and a Flexeril.
- AT UNC Hospitals, she said she had had a lot to drink the night of the
- She had two 22-ounce Icehouse beers before arriving at the party.
- There were four dancers instead of two.
- She wasn't hit and wasn't choked and wasn't restrained or held down.
- She was knocked to the floor multiple times.
- The nurse's report noted diffuse swelling of the vaginal walls. It made no
mention of bruises, tears or abrasion to either the vagina or the anus. The
nurse noted a non-bleeding scratch on the woman's right knee and a cut on
her right heel. A doctor at Duke noted a scratched heel, and no other signs
of physical assault.
- Two of the alleged rapists ejaculated.
- The alleged rapists did not use condoms
What is indisputable is that the medical exam showed no signs of choking or
being beaten. Later tests could not tie DNA to any lacrosse player.
As has been suggested several times, if the AV was raped, a certain amount of
confusion would be entirely understandable. But there are some other
things which you'd think would be easier to remember and explain, particularly
things which may have happened before the alleged rape.
Some basic things, like how many dancers were there: was it two? Or
four? How much did she have to drink? Did she or did she not take
Flexeril? If she did, how much alcohol did she consume after that?
And then there are the other issues which may have been clouded by
trauma: what did happen to her possessions? Who took her money, if
it was taken?
It's also worth noting that although the attack took place on March 13 or
14th (depending on whether before or after midnight, or both), the police didn't
record a statement until April 6th! Why in the world would they not have a
statement for three weeks?
And it's also worth mentioning that both Joe Cheshire and Kirk Osborne have
first-hand experience with prosecutorial misconduct, in the cases of Alan Gell
and Dawn Wilson respectively. Gell's experience was so thoroughly
disgusting that the state changed the laws on discovery and now require
prosecutors to turn everything over. Wilson was convicted in the notorious
Little Rascals case and has lived with the trauma ever since, despite
significant legal victories.