Creative Destruction

April 7, 2006

The Duke Rape Case, TalkLeft, and FrontPageMag

Filed under: Current Events — Ampersand @ 3:26 pm

It seems unlikely that many readers of “Alas,” my regular blog, are fans of how the liberal website “TalkLeft” has been discussing the Duke rape case (you can find a summary of the case here) . Because although Jeralyn of “TalkLeft” is a liberal, she’s also a defense attorney, and her inclination is to suggest that the accusation is false.

Nonetheless, she’s worth reading because she is a defense attorney (and an excellent one, from all I’ve heard), and there’s a good chance that if the Duke rape case ever winds up in court, the defense lawyers will tell the jury and the press something similar to Jeralyn’s current speculations. Jeralyn’s posts on this case (so far) can be read here, here and here.

Right now, it appears that any story told by a defense attorney will need to explain these elements in particular:

  • Medical records and interviews showed that the woman had signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped and sexually assaulted vaginally and anally.”
  • Evidence that a physical fight took place: Bruises and injuries to the alleged victim (who I’m going to call Mary Doe from now on), some of Mary Doe’s fingernails broken off and and found at the scene, items belonging to Mary Doe (such as her cell phone) left behind.
  • Mary Doe’s claim that she was raped by three men at the party. Why would she lie?

Here’s the narrative Jeralyn suggests – I’ve pieced it together from a few different places in the post and comments here:

The accuser arrived at the house at 11:30. The other dancer was already inside. They began to dance. After a few minutes, they felt threatened by the racial and sexual comments, left and got in a car outside. They both were coaxed to go back in and they did, but got separated.

There could have been a physical assault without a sexual assault… There apparently was an issue about the money. They paid up front and were angry she quit after a few minutes and wanted their money back. That could have resulted in a physical altercation.

One interpretation could be that the nails did not come off during the alleged rape but during a physical assault over the money. …

In short, it doesn’t look like anything incriminating or confirming a rape was found in the [house] or the vehicle.

The implication is that Mary Doe has made up the rape charge for revenge against the Lacrosse players who beat her up during a fight over money.

What about the medical evidence? In an earlier post, Jeralyn quoted a pathologist to suggest that this evidence cannot prove rape:

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Usually, a physician can’t tell consensual from non-consensual. They can tell whether there’s been intercourse or not intercourse, but not whether it’s consensual because one can have bruises and certain injuries from consensual sex and one can have no injuries from non-consensual sex.

So a defense attorney could argue that all the medical evidence shows is that Mary Doe had sex with someone before she went to the Lacross players’ house that night. Alternatively, if the DNA evidence conclusively shows that the accused men (whoever they turn out to be) did have sex with Mary Doe, it will be claimed that the sex was consensual prostitution, followed by a fight over the money.

I believe Mary Doe is telling the truth. But Jeralyn’s narrative accounts for all the known facts and probably can’t be proven wrong. If this case ever comes to a court, I expect that the defense will tell a story pretty much like the one Jeralyn is telling, and it won’t surprise me if a judge or a jury buys it.

* * *

Meanwhile, at the vile FrontPageMag.com, David Yeagley wrote an incredibly racist, woman-hating, stripper-hating article about the Duke rape case (Sadly, No! and Feministe have both fisked the article). There is simply too much offensive material to quote it all, but here’s a few examples to give you the flavor of it:

The reports say the woman is a divorced, 27-year-old “mother” of two, attending North Carolina Central University. She is not a person of note, and is said to do exotic dancing as a side job to pick up extra cash. …

For me as a reader, I had to stop in amazement at the contempt Yeagley managed to get across with the simple device of scare quotes around the word “mother.” You almost have to admire the efficiency – a lesser racist woman-hater might have taken a whole paragraph to pack in the hatefulness Yeagley can communicate just with punctuation.

Then I started reading again, and had to stop again almost instantly because the vileness of the scare-quoted mother is nothing compared to the vileness of how Yeagley uses the phrase “person of note.”

So, that black woman said, “No,” eh? First, she’s in a profession where she’s expected to do tricks for clients. Second, she’s walking into a house full of young, drunken athletes, who happen to be white. Third, she called the police and complained once; then she went back, but then left. And then she went back again! That’s a peculiar way of saying “No,” it seems to me. …

But, exotic dancing—and then to cry “abuse”? This may be pushing victimhood beyond reason. …

(Yeagley in comments :) The woman went there to “turn’em on.” That’s what she’s getting paid for. That she would three times RETURN, when she had every reason to fear, shows excessively poor judgement on her part. She was literally asking for it, for whatever happened anyway.

Remember, if you’re black, and a woman, and a sex worker, then you’ve already consented to have sex, and you can’t be raped. You’ve literally asked for it (in the figurative sense of the word “literally”). And if you think otherwise, why that’s just plain pushing victimhood beyond reason!

(By the way, “Minnobserver” at Feministe pointed out that although Yeager claims to be a adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies, he’s not listed on their webpage. I just phoned the UO CLS office, and the person there says he’s never heard of Yeager and doesn’t have him listed as any kind of professor or instructor.)

* * *

Yeagley is an obvious, over-the-top racist and woman-hater, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than fellow racist woman-haters taking him seriously (not that Frontpage will suffer any blacklash among conservatives for printing this garbage).

But what’s striking to me is that if a defense such as the one Jeralyn at TalkLeft outlined works, it will work because it appeals to Yeagley-like attitudes in the jurors and in the public.

Why are people so quick to believe that if a sex worker says she’s been raped, she must be lying?

Why is it a viable strategy for a defense attorney to virtually admit that their clients are the sort of scum who’d gang up on a lone woman, beat her up, and take her money – but then ask the jury to find that their clients are credible witnesses, and the beat-up woman who claims she’s been raped is not?

Because in our society a black sex worker is not a “person of note,” but rich white athletes are. What’s rare about Yeagley isn’t that he thinks it, but that he says it so overtly.

22 Comments »

  1. Yeagley is also an Obie! Aren’t you proud?

    Re: the OU claims, it’s not unusual for adjuncts to fade in and out of the picture during a particular year. It’d be a crapshoot whether the person answering the phone would know a particular adjunct’s name.

    I liked some of Yeagley’s early writing about Indians and conservatism but he really has gone nuts. This latest article is truly vile spew.

    Comment by Robert — April 7, 2006 @ 3:44 pm | Reply


  2. The reports say the woman is a divorced, 27-year-old “mother” of two, attending North Carolina Central University. She is not a person of note, and is said to do exotic dancing as a side job to pick up extra cash. …

    …And that’s enough.

    Occasionally conservatives are accused of racism and sexism for light reasons. This is not one of those times.

    Comment by Tuomas — April 7, 2006 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

  3. Oops, didn’t close the tags, it seems.

    [I fixed it. Now that you're a blogger, and not just a pathetic lowely comment-writer, you can fix stuff like this too - explore the "Manage" menu and "comments" submenu in the admin screen! :-) --Amp]

    Comment by Tuomas — April 7, 2006 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  4. It doesn’t allow me to manage the comments. I can only play God on my own threads. :(

    Comment by Tuomas — April 7, 2006 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  5. “Medical records and interviews showed that the woman had signs, symptoms and injuries consistent with being raped”.

    Would you please explain what signs, symptoms and injuries are inconsistent with being raped?

    Comment by James — April 7, 2006 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  6. Tuomas: Oh, my mistake, then – I had assumed we all have the same moderation God-like moderation powers that I’ve become accustomed to on “Alas.” But of course, it makes sense that we only have that kind of power on our own threads. My bad.

    Comment by Ampersand — April 7, 2006 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  7. But what’s striking to me is that if a defense such as the one Jeralyn at TalkLeft outlined works, it will work because it appeals to Yeagley-like attitudes in the jurors and in the public.

    Well, I hardly agree with Yeagley and I would surmise neither do most of the public, but the defense offered by Jeralyn is a valid possibility. If her injuries could have been sustained by consenual sex, then without DNA evidence linking any of the players to that act there is no evidence that she was raped. Of course, the prosecutors could argue that condoms were used. But if the DNA under her nails also does not match who knows what the arguement will be.

    I do not know who is telling the truth. Based on what has been reported and the considerable time it has taken for the DNA results to get back, something appears to be amiss. The response to this has been so overwhelming that if it does prove to be false on any level–for the accuser or for the accused–I doubt anyone would even notice.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 8, 2006 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  8. First, I really like this CD venue.

    Second: Yeagley’s rant illustrates why – despite being somewhat of the neoconnish persuasion myself – I don’t read FrontPage. More to the point, it illustrates why I retain some reservations about the neoconservative movement as a whole. It’s fine to say, “the Left has gone overboard” and “look at these cases of ‘reverse sexism’ and ‘reverse racism’ ” – great, I don’t dispute that there are communities in America where the despised “straight white male” is deemed guilty just for having been born.

    But in their zeal to denounce the excesses of the Left, I think neocons too often forget that old-fashioned racism and sexism haven’t gone away. By the same token, neocons absolutely right to denounce anti-woman violence in Muslim societies (as some on the Left, for example Ampersand, have done) but it’s incredibly hypocritical to then treat rape as a non-problem in America. (This was the subject of my recent post, “FrontPage vs. FrontPage”.)

    I would like to hope that Amp is wrong, and that some number of FP readers will see this deranged, sexist garbage for what it is.

    Comment by Asher Abrams — April 8, 2006 @ 1:17 am | Reply

  9. “Would you please explain what signs, symptoms and injuries are inconsistent with being raped?”

    Depends exactly what the person is claimed happened, but what they are looking for is a)is there evidence of penetration, in the case of vaginally is the hymen damaged, was it damaged recently. In all orifices – looking for signs of abrasion, recent tearing, and any DNA left by the rapist (semen, spit, skin cells, public hairs – the last being surprising useful, as even iof the rapist uses a condom public hairs can catch on the victims public hair, and then can be combed out). They would also be looking for any evidence directly linked to her story (say she claims they sodomised her with a lit cigerette – then they would look for burns etc).

    Evidence inconsistant would be say, claiming to have been vaginally raped, but clearly has no been recently penetrated.

    Since this case concerns anal rape, it is likely they would be looking for either 1) evidence of lube or 2) evidence of tearing. Without one or the other of those, it would inconsistant with her statement.

    Comment by VK — April 8, 2006 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  10. I have always thought of myself as pro-feminist, and was thus going to comment on the other comment thread (the one on Alas), but after I saw that it was off-limits to wonder aloud how the commenters felt about the view that “i actually don’t care whether the lacrosse boys did it — if they suffer because of this case, good”, two things occurred to me:

    1. I guess I’m not really pro-feminist;

    2. I guess I don’t much care, if being pro-feminist obliges one to reject concepts like the presumption of innocence and individual guilt for crimes.

    Comment by asg — April 9, 2006 @ 11:13 pm | Reply

  11. Was Amp’s post always labeled as pro-feminist or did that warning go up after the post was written? I don’t recall seeing the warning when I first read that post.

    Comment by TangoMan — April 10, 2006 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  12. Asg, no one said that was off-limits. TangoMan is off-limits; the particular thing he said was not.

    TangoMan, the post was labeled from the moment I posted it.

    Comment by Ampersand — April 10, 2006 @ 2:53 am | Reply

  13. Amp, you may want to indicate the off-limit posts in the “last comments” list because I didn’t see the warning before I posted.

    Comment by TangoMan — April 10, 2006 @ 3:41 am | Reply

  14. Since this case concerns anal rape, it is likely they would be looking for either 1) evidence of lube or 2) evidence of tearing. Without one or the other of those, it would inconsistant with her statement.

    The evidence could swing either way. Tearing is going to happen regardless of lube unless a person has frequent anal sex. And even then, internal tearing is still possible. The lube could potentially come from the condom(s), and again that is not proof of whether the acts were consensual or forced. Given the situation, the only real DNA evidence that would imply there was force is the evidence gathered from the accuser’s nails.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 10, 2006 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  15. I think the outcome has been made final. There is no DNA evidence at all. Including that this woman never had sex that night with anyone, and not even evidence of a condom being used. So that excuse cannot be brought up anymore. There was no DNA found anywhere on her body, or in the house. This in my opinion was some kind of set up in a way. If this woman showed up intoxicated and with noticable bruises and cuts, possibly she couldn’t tell if she had blacked out and been raped. Still lives have been ruined, and this case will be brought up in other rape cases from now on. It’s torn apart a city along racial lines, and many other ways. The fact is that regardless, she rode the word “Victim” as far as she could go. That is very sad because there are women really being raped and who need help and legal justice. Maybe she did this for revenge, or even for money. What happens to her? Should she be let go for slander and false accusations? The media has had a huge role in this as well! It seems they wanted these boys to be guilty in order for them to have news to discuss and for the DA to further his career. It is an election year. I live in NC.

    Comment by Rebecca — April 10, 2006 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  16. Tawanna Brawley, anyone?
    What a RACIST HOAX this is!

    Comment by LornaJ — April 17, 2006 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  17. There was no DNA found anywhere on her body, or in the house.

    I would be very surprised indeed to learn that no DNA belonging to any of the lacross players was found anywhere in the house where they lived!

    Comment by mythago — April 17, 2006 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  18. Timestamped photos show the ‘victim’ with lacerations and bruises close to the time she arrived at the party. IF a rape occurred there is still no evidence to link any of the players to either the physical harm nor the rape. The fact that she was probably under the influence of either extreme alcohol (or other substances) would explain erratic behavior – I’m sorry, but extremely drunk or drugged people DO do stupid things – would go far in explaining her fingernails and cell phone. And as for the “why would she lie” angle… Revenge? I’m sure the lacrosse players did in fact hurl epithets at her and maybe they shorted her on payment. Why, for that matter, would she steal a taxicab several years ago, lead officers on a high-speed chase, and then attempt to run over the arresting law officer? You do an ENORMOUS disservice to true victims when you blindly side with an accuser whose story and HISTORY (a person’s history IS some indicator to their character despite what you may say) is far from spotless.

    Comment by blah — April 18, 2006 @ 1:41 am | Reply

  19. Incidentally, I believe I read that when reporting the negative results of the DNA tests it was stated that none of the lacrosse players’ DNA matched that recoverd from the alleged victim. Does this indicate that DNA *was* recovered from the alleged victim?

    Comment by blah — April 18, 2006 @ 1:47 am | Reply

  20. I have never seen a stripper at a frat party that didnt bring a BFB(big f—ing bodyguard)since they neither want nor will tolerate any touching unless initiated by them. A escort/proho pretty much work alone. Did she get raped? Probably not beyod a reasonable doubt.

    Comment by Arduous — April 18, 2006 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  21. Speaking as a stripper, Arduous, some don’t–because they don’t have the money, they don’t work with an agency or they figure having a friend along will be a deterrent. I’m not sure where you get the idea that prostitutes never bring escorts and can’t be raped.

    Comment by mythago — April 18, 2006 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  22. Did anyone check the Girlfriend of the stripers
    DNA? In these times it is NOT far fetched to ask
    or check it out. Maybe she had intercoarse with her before the party with sexual devices use by lesbians????

    Comment by James — April 27, 2006 @ 9:32 am | Reply


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