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.
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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.)
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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.