Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tried in the Media

You must have heard about this. It has been a top story since it was first reported. The original report was that a black mother and college student was gang-raped by white members of a Duke University athletic team (it came out later that it was a lacrosse team). The accuser was swabbed for DNA traces. The DA waited for the results to come back before charging anyone.

Black leaders across America announced that they were watching the investigation closely. Two weeks later they were demanding to know why no charges had been filed yet (they were still waiting for the results of the DNA tests). When the tests did come back, they were negative. Undaunted, the DA hinted at additional test and charged two students the following week.

There has been more nuance but most people have not heard any more than this. One black student interviewed on NBC last night expressed her fears that the white students would "get off".

The trouble is that there is a great deal of doubt about the case. The defense already started making its case public. When the students come to trial, here is what the defense will say happened:

Two women were hired as strippers for a team party and paid $800 in advance. When they arrived, one (the accuser) was visibly impaired, either from drugs or alcohol. The other woman danced for 4-5 minutes until one of the students uttered a racial epithet. At that time, both strippers locked themselves in a bathroom for 20 minutes. They eventually emerged and were put in a cab. Before they left, the team asked for their money back but were refused. Still upset at the racial remark and unwilling to return the money, the strippers claimed that a rape had taken place.

The defense will also produce time-stamped photographs showing the one stripper dancing while the other simply sat and showing the two of them entering a cab, apparently in good health.

The prosecution will argue that the team drugged the stripper and the second stripper will testify that the two women were separate for enough time for a very quick assault. Their credibility will be challenged since they have reason to want to hurt the team (the money and the racial remark). It doesn't help that they make money by taking off their clothes. Society looks down on strippers more than on the men who watch them.

Given all of this, a conviction is unlikely. The trial will center on the possibility of an assault that did not leave DNA. The jury will look at the pictures of the strippers leaving and the negative DNA results and find the defendants not guilty.

Why did the DA even charge the students given how poor a case he had? He had to because the students have already been found guilty by the press. As shown by the woman on NBC, many people drew conclusions when the story was first reported. An assault must have happened or it wouldn't have made the wire service, right?

Recently bloggers got a black eye for expressing outrage at statement a hostage made while at gunpoint. This shows that the MSM is no better at waiting for the facts.

No comments: