Durham, North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong should do the right thing, cut his losses and drop the remaining charges of kidnapping and sexual assault against the three Duke University lacrosse players. That would close what has to be one of the dreariest episodes in the history of rape and racial victimization cases.Yes, it would close an episode in the history of rape and racial victimization cases, but it would do so on an unfounded accusation against this alleged rape victim. But, hey, when we are focusing on the big picture what does it matter if there is a real possibility that a real rape victim has been publicly shafted and branded a cold-blooded liar directly by some people and indirectly by others?
Many people reveal their ignorance and lack of research when they equate the dropping of the rape charges as evidence that this is no longer a rape case in the general sense. In North Carolina, the charge of rape only applies to vaginal intercourse (penis in vagina) so any boy or man in NC who claims to have been raped by a man is making a false legal statement even if he is reporting what really happened.
The prosecution stated that they can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that vaginal intercourse happened during the alleged crime. That's a far cry from saying no rape happened. As a rape survivor, I know what it is to question my memories when they conflict with what other people are telling me.
But Nifong has given no hint that he has learned any lesson from the fiasco. Whether it's ego, to save face, or just plain bull-headedness, he's determined to barge ahead and pile more embarrassment on himself with a prosecution.What if it is credible but non-DNA evidence that this alleged rape victim told the truth that is behind his determination? Should Nifong please his critics at the expense of someone who in his professional opinion is the victim of a serious and violent crime? What if the lacrosse players lied when they said no non-team members were at the party? What if the unknown DNA belongs to friends of the Duke lacrosse team?
That many people refuse to even consider these possibilities speaks volumes.
Those who stand up and say it is wrong to railroad alleged rapists without proof must stand up and say it is wrong to railroad alleged rape victims without proof if they want to be credible to more than a subgroup of people and not be seen as rape enablers.
Right now we have lack of DNA evidence linking specific individuals to this crime and we have hearsay (some of it slanderous in my opinion) and questions about the admissibility of evidence. If this case turns out to have reasonable doubt on all current charges against the 3 defendants that is not the same thing as proof that the alleged victim lied. Unfortunately, many people don't give a damn about this difference.
If there are sides battling over this case, Earl Ofari Hutchinson has all the rapists in the country on his side yelling, "You tell him." He forgets that at the peril of all those who are raped.
Then there's Nifong. He was roundly denounced for rushing to judgment on the case to curry favor with blacks and women's groups, and to boost his reelection chances. There's no evidence that Nifong purposely used the case to do that.But lack of evidence hasn't stopped people from repeating this denouncement as if it were proven. Those who do so either do so out of stupid ignorance or with the hope that people will assume there couldn't be any valid reasons for Nifong to pursue this case.
Just as in the OJ case there is a chance that money and PR of a grand conspiracy to harm the defendants can get the job done, this time possibly without a trial. But victory doesn't always equal justice.
Make no mistake, if the defendants are not guilty of the charges against them, I want them found not guilty of those charges. Unfortunately, with the tone of many of the attacks against the alleged victim and those who support her right to pursue justice, I doubt whether those who have verbally attacked this alleged victim would cheer if it were proven in a court of law that she is telling the truth and the jury found the defendants guilty.
Technorati tags: rape crime politics sexual violence sexual assault feminism