Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Report: Durham police downplayed Duke allegations


Duke underestimated the rape allegations against members of the lacrosse team in part because Durham police initially said the accuser "kept changing her story and was not credible," according to a university report issued Monday.


The report did say a female Duke police officer tried to calm and reassure the accuser at the hospital where she was taken by police hours after the party. The woman, the Duke officer said, was "crying uncontrollably and visibly shaken ... shaking, crying and upset." That behavior, the report said, "doesn't suggest that the case was likely to just `go away."'

Despite how the defense attorneys try to spin the information contained in the Duke report, it makes this woman's claim more credible, not less. Combined with the security guard's observations and results of a medical exam consistent with sexual assault, it blows the false allegation of rape theory (charges stemming from a fabrication by alleged victim) clean out of the water.

From verifiable information and undisputed observations, it is very likely that this woman was identified as a rape victim before she was able to talk coherently.

After reading this entire article, the view that this woman kept changing her story and therefore can't be a credible witness is a gross misunderstanding (or a gross distortion) of how a victim in crisis might respond to questions by investigators. I say this from the perspective of a victims advocate who has been with rape victims before, during and after their rape exam.

If a question triggers a memory, the details of that memory may be spoken even though those details don't answer the question at hand. In the Duke rape case, the memory might be of the higher than expected number of men at the party when the question was only about who committed rape and assault.

If anyone in the Duke leadership was told that the alleged victim was crying uncontrollably hours after the alleged incident then the problem was they gave too much weight to conclusions and too little weight to direct observations.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:24 AM   0 comments links to this post


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