Creative Destruction

April 10, 2006

DNA Evidence Doesn’t Link Lacrosse Players To Crime

Filed under: Current Events,Feminist Issues — Ampersand @ 9:10 pm

The AP reports:

DNA testing failed to connect any members of the Duke University lacrosse team to the alleged rape of a stripper, attorneys for the athletes said Monday.

Citing DNA test results delivered by the state crime lab to police and prosecutors a few hours earlier, the attorneys said the test results prove their clients did not sexually assault and beat a stripper hired to perform at a March 13 team party.

No charges have been filed in the case.

“No DNA material from any young man was present on the body of this complaining woman,” said defense attorney Wade Smith.

The alleged victim, a 27-year-old student at a nearby college, told police she and another woman were hired to dance at the party. The woman told police that three men at the party dragged her into a bathroom, choked her, raped her and sodomized her.

Authorities ordered 46 of the 47 players on Duke’s lacrosse team to submit DNA samples to investigators. Because the woman said her attackers were white, the team’s sole black player was not tested.

District Attorney Mike Nifong stopped speaking with reporters last week after initially talking openly about the case, including stating publicly that he was confident a crime occurred. He went on to say he would have other evidence to make his case should the DNA analysis prove inconclusive or fail to match a member of the team.

An amazing number of people have already posted in the comments, although I haven’t been letting the comments through because of their nasty tone. Some of the comments are openly racist, such as this one:

Why do you colored people always got to play the race card? Why can’t it just be an issue for all races and nationalitys? Now that the sisters been made out to be nothing but a lying bitch its time for the IRS to investigate her ass because we all no she aint paying any taxes on her nasty ass. plus all that those poor students on the team have been through: ( a linching is in order.”

Others are merely gloating in tone. Most fall somewhere between.

However, the DNA evidence doesn’t prove that the woman made a false accusation, as many are suggesting. The DNA evidence can’t rule out the possibility that there were men at the party who were not members of the LAX team (a possibility I brought up last week). Nor, to my knowledge, can any evidence released so far rule out the possibility that the rapists used condoms. Finally, the reasons I stated last week for believing that a rape probably did take place, have not changed.

The defense announcement about the DNA is certainly something anyone following the case should be aware of, and that’s why I’m posting the story. But to conclude from the lack of DNA results that the accusation has been proved fiction is unwarranted.

UPDATE: See also Amanda’s post on this subject. And this post by zong4assata at Justice 4 Two Sisters. And this comment at Ginmar’s, written by a lab tech who works with DNA.

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23 Comments »

  1. The logic the defense is using is precisely the same logic that was being used by the accuser’s supporters prior to the results of the DNA being made public: because some DNA evidence exists it proves there was a rape, even though it is entirely possible that the DNA could have resulted from consensual sex. In this instance, there appears to be an attempt to have it both ways.

    The bit about other white party-goers has bothered me for quite some time. If there were other potential suspects, why haven’t the authorities demanded DNA samples from them? It isn’t pausible that they could not be found, so what happened to that angle? And if there were condoms used, why were none found? According to the reports, no one had cleaned up the room the alledged act occurred. The accuser’s nails were still on the floor. It is reasonable to believe the condoms would still be there as well.

    However, I think the point has been entirely missed: the accusation was that white members of the lacrosse team alledgedly raped this stripper. The absence of DNA evidence connecting any of them to the alledged crime does indeed prove that at least that aspect of the accusation is fictious. Remember, DNA was not only taken from the rape kit but also her nails, meaning there is literally nothing linking these young men to this alledged crime, whether the assault or the rape.

    We should not ever reach a point where we forego investigative techniques and ignore the absence of evidence merely for the sake of punishing someone for an alledged crime. And we also should never reach a point where we refuse to question the validity of statements when we find the evidence does not match the accusations.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 10, 2006 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  2. Ampersand, what is the evidence that these Lacrosse boys may have been the ones?

    Comment by Adam Gurri — April 10, 2006 @ 10:49 pm | Reply

  3. Well, I will stick with my original position. Let’s see what the criminal investigation process reveals before jumping to any conclusions about the guilt or innocence of anyone.

    Comment by bobhayes — April 11, 2006 @ 1:13 am | Reply

  4. An aside, Amp. Why not put a (F) marker on the feminist/ pro-feminist threads on alas, like writing it in the name of the post (thus it would show on the recent comments -bar, and an explanation on the front page that this means fem only?

    (Or something similar)

    Comment by Tuomas — April 11, 2006 @ 1:56 am | Reply

  5. Yes, having just made an ass of myself by posting on a verboten thread, I second Tuomas’ suggestion. You might even go the other way and put “O” for Open in the post names that aren’t restricted, and make being restricted the default.

    Comment by bobhayes — April 11, 2006 @ 2:06 am | Reply

  6. I’ll take it under consideration. 🙂

    Adam, from an earlier post I wrote:

    Why do I think this story is true?

    1) The victim’s story seems both plausible and similar to other pack-rape cases I’ve read about.

    2) Both the medical exam and her father’s comments about her injuries are consistant with her story of being violently attacked and raped.

    3) The police, when they searched the house where she claims she was raped, found her makeup bag and five of her torn-off fingernails. Again, consistent with her story.

    4) Elements of her story are supported by the testimony of the next-door neighbor, Jason Bissey (see the timeline).

    Do I think that’s absolute proof? No. It’s possible that further evidence could come along which would change the way things look entirely. (Always a possibility, with any crime.)

    But at this point, I believe that this woman was raped.

    Comment by Ampersand — April 11, 2006 @ 6:13 am | Reply

  7. Makes sense.

    But by these guys?

    Comment by Adam Gurri — April 11, 2006 @ 7:47 am | Reply

  8. Well, why don’t we see what the actual results say, instead of blindly assuming the accused’s defense attorneys are giving us the whole story?

    Comment by mythago — April 11, 2006 @ 9:28 am | Reply

  9. Patience is a virtue.

    Comment by Tuomas — April 11, 2006 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  10. Well, why don’t we see what the actual results say, instead of blindly assuming the accused’s defense attorneys are giving us the whole story?

    Up to this point, no one has had a problem with anyone blindly assuming the accuser has told the whole truth.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 11, 2006 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  11. Up to this point, no one has had a problem with anyone blindly assuming the accuser has told the whole truth.

    You can’t possibly believe that.

    Comment by Tuomas — April 11, 2006 @ 11:30 am | Reply

  12. Mythago, point well taken.

    Adam, even if we believe that the alleged victim’s testimony is 100% truthful, all that establishes is that three white men she believes are on the Lacrosse team raped her. But it would be easy for men who were at the party but not on the team to give that false impression; it would also be easy for her to falsely believe that everyone there was a Lacrosse player when in fact some weren’t.

    I believe a rape happened. But who in particular the rapists were, isn’t something I have any knowledge of. If the DA presses charges, as he says he still intends to, then presumably at the trial he’ll bring forth evidence against the particular individuals charged.

    Comment by Ampersand — April 11, 2006 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  13. Tuomas, the comment was directed at those who believe the accuser’s statements.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 11, 2006 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  14. Perhaps you should have said that, then, instead of the generalization you presented.

    Anyway, sorry for misunderstanding. Just saying that there are people who didn’t want to jump to conclusions then and now.
    The fact that some people have behaved in the manner you have described isn’t a good argument for jumping to conclusions now.

    “They jumped to conclusions, so it’s okay for me to do that now, too!” Not convinced.

    Comment by Tuomas — April 11, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  15. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I thought it was implied given that I was responding directly to someone’s statement.

    According to the DNA results, nothing links these young men to this alleged attack. That not only includes semen samples, but hair, skin, saliva, blood and potential lubricant from condoms. Given the accuser’s accusation, specifically about the fighting, the absence of any DNA evidence is inconsistent.

    It is reasonable then to conclude none of these young men committed rape, in much the same way it is reasonable for Ampersand to conclude a rape did take place. However, both conclusions are based on limited knowledge. To judge one more acceptable than the other because you agree with it is not a compelling argument.

    As for mistaken identity, the notion implies that the investigators are so inept as to not have interviewed the accuser to see if that were possible. The only way they could have missed that angle is if they accepted the accuser’s statement at face value and never bothered to investigate.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 11, 2006 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  16. According to the DNA results…

    Actually, according to the defense attorney’s report of the DNA results. Which could be partial, elided, misrepresented, spun, or outright lied about.

    I’m continuing to say “we don’t have enough information to reach any firm conclusions.”

    Comment by bobhayes — April 11, 2006 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

  17. Actually, according to the defense attorney’s report of the DNA results. Which could be partial, elided, misrepresented, spun, or outright lied about.

    The same could be said of the accuser’s statements and what has been presented to the media.

    I’m continuing to say “we don’t have enough information to reach any firm conclusions.”

    Agreed. The should also include such statements as “a rape took place.”

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 11, 2006 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  18. I sense disappointment from Ampersand and others about the DNA results. Why, I thought they should be pleased that it appears the team did not gang rape the young woman. Could it be they wanted the issue more than the woman’s well-being?

    There’s just no pleasing some people.

    Comment by Richard Ames — April 11, 2006 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  19. Richard, I don’t think that any valid purpose is served by attempting to psychically determine the emotional state of someone with whom you’re interacting across such a narrow pipeline of social bandwidth. When the emotional state guessed at would be one that indicates the person in question is truly a vile individual, I see even less of a point – other than a propagandistic smear attack type of point.

    If you want to know whether Amp, or anyone, is disappointed at this information, there’s a simple method available to find out: ask them. Speculating “gosh, I sense that Amp is the kind of genuinely shitty human being who would rather have a juicy rape case to blog about, instead of a possibly distressing incidence of false rape accusation to blog about” is an attack on a friend of mine.

    And I don’t appreciate that one little bit.

    Comment by bobhayes — April 12, 2006 @ 12:28 am | Reply

  20. The same could be said of the accuser’s statements and what has been presented to the media.

    The accuser has not been interviewed by the media. The DA’s office released information and has recently shut up (because they are prosecuting a case and have nothing to gain by giving interviews).

    Even the reports of the defense attorneys say that the DNA tests were ‘inconclusive’, not that they prove the accuser is lying, that no rape took place, or that the DNA points to somebody else.

    I wouldn’t convict these men, were I on a jury, without having been presented all the evidence. But as I’m not on the jury, and knowing an awful lot of defense laywers, I know better than to assume what they’re telling the media means anything more than “we need to get this idea out into the jury pool”.

    Comment by mythago — April 12, 2006 @ 1:40 am | Reply

  21. I wouldn’t convict these men, were I on a jury, without having been presented all the evidence. But as I’m not on the jury, and knowing an awful lot of defense laywers, I know better than to assume what they’re telling the media means anything more than “we need to get this idea out into the jury pool”.

    While that’s probably true, the defence could argue that they’re only responding the prejudicial remarks made by the prosecutor.

    Sounds to me like a good reason for both sides to be required to STFU in public.

    Comment by Daran — April 12, 2006 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  22. The accuser has not been interviewed by the media.

    Neither have the accused. All the quasi-information that has reached the public has come either through attorneys or unconfirmed statements made by family members or alleged witnesses.

    It would probably be good for a gag order to be placed to prevent any further release information.

    Comment by Toy Soldier — April 12, 2006 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  23. This case is falling apart at the seams. The DA said he was going to bring charges ‘this week’. It’s friday, jackass. The more interesting thing to me, however, is how quickly this case is falling into the memory hole. Another week, and it wil be scrubbed from the fem blogs, like it never happened. “I never said they were all guilty from the first day, in fact, I never talked about this case at all!” Watch for it.

    doubleplus ungood nonperson malquote rectify.

    Comment by Jersey Boy — April 13, 2006 @ 12:56 pm | Reply


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