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Wednesday, August 30, 2006
As I mentioned on Constitutional Public Radio the other day, I have not covered the Duke Lacrosse rape case much since about April, since I was convinced the story was entirely bogus and that the young men charged in the case were guilty of nothing worse than poor judgment.

Slate takes a look at the NY Times' recent attempt to shore up the faltering case against the players.

The Wilson-Glater piece highlights every superficially incriminating piece of evidence in the case, selectively omits important exculpatory evidence, and reports hotly disputed statements by not-very-credible police officers and the mentally unstable accuser as if they were established facts. With comical credulity, it features as its centerpiece a leaked, transparently contrived, 33-page police sergeant's memo that seeks to paper over some of the most obvious holes in the prosecution's evidence.

This memo was concocted from memory, nearly four months after the underlying witness interviews, by Durham police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, the lead investigator. Gottlieb says he took no contemporaneous notes, an inexplicable and indefensible police practice. Gottlieb had drawn fire before the alleged Duke rape—perhaps unbeknownst to the Times—as a Dukie-basher who reveled in throwing kids into jail for petty drinking infractions, noise violations, and the like, sometimes with violent criminals as cellmates.

The sergeant's account is indeed curious, since it contradicts contemporaneous accounts, in ways that support the prosecutor's case. It certainly seems convenient, if not outright fraudulent. As we've discussed, the dancer stated that her attackers were "chubby", which Slate notes certainly rules out Colin Finnerty. Indeed, they note that this description resulted in him not being included in the first two photo lineups:

Gottlieb's police team did not include a photo of Finnerty—the only team member who fits Gottlieb's account of a "baby-faced, tall, lean" rapist—in the 36 photos shown to the accuser later on March 16 and on March 21.

Like many stories this one features a narrative that fits the NY Times' biases. Wealthy white men versus a poor black woman; surely the men must be guilty. And even if they aren't, shouldn't they pay the price for centuries of slavery followed by 140 years of discrimination?
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