Duke sports team / rape

  1. I’m thrilled about the support the black community in Durham is showing the victim, and I’m very glad the racist and class aspects of the story are being discussed nationally.
  2. Are the racial and class aspects driving the story? If the victim were a white woman and only another ho hum story about a woman being raped by college athletes would it have been reported and would anyone in the media care or report it? How many other rapes do you think have happened at Duke this year? Unwanted sexual contact and intercourse happens commonly, but only in these exceptional circumstances (and with this exceptionally brave reporting to police) do we hear about it. I’m not sure that law suits or even criminalizing it is the best way to deal with this public epidemic.
  3. Why isn’t there more press about the fact that one of these defendants has already been convicted of gay bashing? Read this posting on Colin Finnerty for more.
  4. Why do they keep referring to the victim / complainant as a stripper? (6/12/06 You can see an explanation in the comments below and my acceptance of the commentator’s correction, if not the commentator’s tone)
  5. If there hadn’t been a reported rape, but other details of the party had gotten to Duke administrators and players parents (ie.the team having a team function with strippers as entertainment and yelling that they’d like to f them with a broomstick), what would have been the reaction, if any?

There was a parallel incident when I was at Yale. It was never reported to police and I don’t think it went as far as this one did. A fraternity which was based off-campus had a party for which they hired a stripper. They ended up hiring a prostitute instead of a stripper and some of the guys had sex with her with the group chanting. Word spread because people happened to hear the noise and look in and see what was going on. I think some of the guys talked about it and I remember that the dudes who had sex with her bragged about it. They were on a varsity team too.
When I heard about it I wondered if the woman was raped. I certainly felt like the setting was about 3 inches away from gang rape if it wasn’t already happening. I was very involved as an activist advocating around rape and sexual assault issues on campus. I had organized a women’s self-defense class for the campus and in the process had ended up hearing dozens and dozens of sexual asssault and rape stories first-hand from women on campus. I had had my own experiences which showed me how easily this could happen. It made me incredibly sad, and angry to see and feel how common this was. I ended up on the campus Sexual Harassment Grievence Board which I found very effective, contrary to what Naomi Wolf has said about it. But being at a campus like Yale or Duke, there’s this status and class-connected feeling of safety for many. You can feel the white, upper-middle class thing happening “everything looks good, so it must be good here.” To challenge that idea, the story an institution or family or person tells about themselves is really threatening. Because if this could happen here, what else could? But the scariest question is not “what else could happen here?” but “What already happened to make this possible?”

Why did Colin Finnerty gay bash a man in Georgetown? Why was the easiest way for this woman to make money stripping? Why did she let herself go back in the house? Assualt and rape so often repeat themselves. I believe people are primed.

The frat audience sex incident motivated me to organize the first modern pan-fraternity meeting at Yale. This was not a strategy most of my feminist activist peers were taking (and there weren’t very many of us, contrary to the popular image in the press). I believe it’s important to involve the teams in making this situation better. The group dynamic can go both ways. All it takes is one or two leaders with a different kind of awareness to steer the situation in a different direction. Of course my experience was in the late 80s, before every other music video and rap song, not to mention the way most guys seem to learn about sex in America: p8rn.

Generally when things blow up this big, like the latest rape at Duke, it’s because there have been systemic problems for a while and then, finally, one symbolic event comes along and rips the cover off the mess, just like Hurricane Katrina did. In my four years at Yale I think there was something like one rape reported to the campus police. I know from number of rapes and assaults I heard about first-hand and other creepy things I learned about on the Grievance Board that this is a ridiculously low number. For someone to go not just to campus police but city police is unusual. For a black woman to have gone to them (I’m just imagining some historically deserved mistrust here) and had a physical exam, this *very* unusual and not casually done.

18 Replies to “Duke sports team / rape”

  1. Why is the accuser referred to as a “stripper”? Duh, the same reason that the accused are referred to as “student athletes”, “members of the lacrosse team at Duke” and/or “lacrossse players”…because that’s WHAT THEY ARE! The young woman was not hired to protect the players (a a Naval veteran) babysit them (as a mother of two) or even tutor them (as a student at NC State). She was hired to entertain them with her sexuality through disrobing.

    That is why she is referred to as a stripper. To do so does not cast aspersions on her character nor devalue her value as a human being. To even pose this question is either the absolute height of stupidity or the purposeful ignorance of the facts as they pertain to this case with the intent of manipulating and disguising the truth.

  2. Common Sense,

    I stand corrected. This is one of the inevitable aspects of not publishing the name of a rape victim or possible rape victim. It makes it harder to humanize her in the media in a lot of ways because while we’re reading and hearing the names and seeing the faces and parents of the guys who have been accused and the team in general, we don’t see her.


  3. I suppose Innocent until Proven Guilty has been amended out of the Constitution recently?

    “The victim” in this case is Colin Finnerty. And it is Reade Seligmann and it is Dave Evans. And the Durham community has not been showing them anything except hatred.

  4. A Special Prosecutor In The Duke Rape Case?
    Susan Estrich wants DA Mike Nifong to appoint a Special Prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse rape case. Ms. Estrich believes that Mike Nifong, is outmatched for Bob Bennett hired by the Duke team parents, and wants NC’s attorney general to hire Bennett’s equal to represent the state?
    Why not hire Bennett’s equal to represent the state? Bringing in the top guns for a complicated case would be one thing, but bringing in the high-priced talent in order to attempt the transformation of a pig’s ear into a silk purse would be a waste of the taxpayer’s money.
    Nifong claimed that a date rape drug was used but a discovery motion filed by the defense learned that there wasn’t any toxicology done. The question of a “line-up” that guaranteed a Duke lacrosse team member would be chosen. The absolute refusal of Nifong looking at exculpatory evidence of any kind, and he continues to ignore evidence that the crime never occurred.

    There is no way three drunken men, inside an enclosed bathroom with a woman violently clawing and fighting would leave absolutely no DNA behind at the alleged crime scene. Where’s her tears, sweat, saliva, and other bodily fluids? If condoms were used, were are the condoms, wrappers, boxes or evidence of lubricant on or in the alleged victim? The scene described by the alleged victim is one of violence and chaos, yet even in the most calm and best of situation, anyone who has ever had sex with a condom knows that there is no way to remove a condom without touching DNA evidence from either yourself or partner.

    Ms. Estrich states: “The price to date has been paid by the accuser, who has been called every name in the book”.

    Really? Some think that the defendants have paid a higher price. These boys had their names, photos, addresses, personal information attached to “gang rape” in the national media and internet, they had “wanted posters” posted all over their school and community, daily protests by many sexist and racist political groups identifying these boys and calling them gang rapists, Meanwhile, no mainstream media outlet that has published the accuser’s name, let alone called her a liar.

    Ms. Estrich’s second point, “that the treatment of the accuser may chill other women from coming forward”

    This depends on whether you think public opinion has turned because of brilliant defense maneuvering, or because of an embarrassingly weak case where evidence points to the accuser making false claim, and a DA who has a political agenda.

    Ms. Estrich: “Let Nifong pick the prosecutor; if his handpicked choice believes there is no case, …then so be it.”
    My guess is that Nifong will have no interest in appointing a special prosecutor prior to his election in November – in terms of Nifong’s job preservation, which seems to be his motivation here. Having a special prosecutor dismiss this over the summer will be even more politically embarrassing than having Nifong take responsibility for his own behavior.
    Frankly, as best I extrapolate Ms. Estrich’s view, if the Duke Stripper replaces Tawana Brawley as the shorthand for false accuser, that will chill real rape victims who will fear that they will not be taken seriously. The only non-chilling outcome would be prosecutions and convictions, and that is not going to happen based on the evidence we’ve seen.

  5. When the stripper “eeny meeny miney moed” the boys out of a line up that guaranteed only Duke Lacrosse boys were chosen, to the DNA (or lack of), the boys’ alibis, the 2nd stripper changing her story to profit from this scandal, the cab driver, I didn’t think this case could get any weaker, but then evidence reveals that stripper lied to police about not having sex for a week, then later confessed to having sex with her boyfriend and two other men who drove her to the party, and using a “vibrator” in a performance prior to the Duke party.

    And again when you think that this case couldn’t get anymore ridiculous, from Nifong’s own reports we find out that the police omitted important information including that the stripper claimed that the 2nd stripper, Kim Roberts Pittman, helped the boys rape her.

    The stripper originally claimed that the second stripper helped with the rape!

    Just when you think this case hit rock bottom, there’s about 50 feet of crap, then you find a sub-basement where in the corner Mike Nifong is clutching this case like “Gulum”, from the movie Lord of the Rings, clutches the “ring of power”.

    If Mike Nifong doesn’t get disbarred after this, then there really is a corrupt system in Durham that protects rich white guys. In Nifong’s case – stupid rich white guys with transparent political agendas, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Nifong can turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.

  6. Ever since every sexist and racist group descended onto Duke to publicly condemn these boys, I went into over drive trying to make people consider that these boys wouldn’t have submitted to DNA testing if they were guilty, but since the 1st DNA evidence came back, I became more persistent and met equally persistent feminist (i.e. feministing, Rachael’s Tavern, Alas a blog, Tennessee Guerrilla Women, Justice4Sisters, Hazel8500 etc…) who adamantly insist these boys are guilty for no other reason than because a “woman” (i.e. the stripper) claims it so.

    I’ve noticed since then that most of feminist blogs have fallen silent as new evidence suggests that the stripper’s claim to be false.

    However, just when you think this case hit rock bottom, there’s about 50 feet of crap, then you find a sub-basement where in the corner Mike Nifong is hunched over clutching this dead case like “Gulum” (movie: Lord of the Rings) clutches the “ring of power”.

    A great place to view that unbiased facts is:


    I love this quote:

    “If Mike Nifong doesn’t get disbarred after this, then there really is a corrupt system in Durham that protects rich white guys. In Nifong’s case – stupid rich white guys with transparent political agendas, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Nifong can turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.”

  7. Mike Nifong is doing his job and that is seeking justice in this case. These duke 3 is not so “innocent” as you think. These people were already out of control and DUKE university gave them a free pass to run amoke in the community. They had no respect for their neighbors and had a history of underage drinking, urinating out of windows, having drunken parties. They lied about their names to the dancers and also lied about which team the party was for. I blame their parents for not raising them to respect women. The victim derserves her chance to tell her story in a court of law. We have a legal system here in America and it is not one-sided. I happen to praise Mike Nifong for his courage to bring the accused to justice…. God Bless Mike Nifong.

  8. I was reading this site for recent information on this story, not with any idea of writing my opinion, but the statement of “justice58” is so appalling, I must answer it. Justice58 says “These duke 3 is (sic) not so innocent as you think” and then goes on to rail about how “Tthey had no respect for their neighbors, a history of underage drinking, uringating out of windows, having drunken parties” and other such nonsense. Hello here! We are talking about accusations of rape, felonies that carry possible life sentences. These young men may be perfect boors and jerks. How does that make it justice to prosecute and persecute them for false felony charges? “God bless Mike Nifong,” justice58 says. Rather, God help justice58 to learn both logic and the first part of her name.

  9. Wow justice58, for all your ranting and misguided opinions it turns out you were wrong.That’s right, wrong.
    could it be that your stereotypes led you to the wrong conclusions? Could it be that you are in fact a bigot?

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