Today I am rolling out a new feature called "The Hard Question" in which I encourage you the readers to offer your input into various issues of the day. Let's start with case of the Duke lacrosse players.
The Attorney General of North Carolina announced last week that all charges would be dismissed against Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and David Evans, the 3 remaining Duke lacrosse players who had been accused of assaulting an exotic dancer during a team party in March of last year.
The case was instantly sensational, raising as it did on the surface questions of race and sex, privilege and class and the relationship of a wealthy elite school to a town with a considerable black population. The players were suspended. The coach was fired. Guys were led off in hand cuffs. The pictures made newspapers everywhere.
Only the case against them started unraveling almost overnight. One of the players could account for his whereabouts at the time of the incident. The other dancer that was present testified that no assault took place. The accuser, who had a prior history of making accusations of sexual assault, put out more stories than O. Henry. Finally, and most damning, there was no DNA evidence matching these guys up to the victim which is unheard of in these types of cases according to a couple of prosecutor types of my acquaintance.
The prosecutor, Mike Nifong, now has real problems with his license. The North Carolina Bar is looking into charges of wrongful or malicious prosecution. As will it should. All in all, it is beginning to look like Nifong brought these charges hastily in order to get elected Prosecuting Attorney. For a good analysis of this go to http://polycarp.blogspot.com . It appears that he will get his.
But what of the players? What do they do to get their lives back? For the rest of their days, they will forever be remembered as the guys in the "Duke lacrosse case." Sure, they were behaving badly on the night in question. But being young, drunk and horny isn't a crime. What about the coach who was discharged from a job he loved by all accounts? How can he receive some measure of justice?
Which brings me to today's Hard Question: Should the accuser be prosecuted for making a false accusation? The Attorney General has said that there are no plans to bring charges against her. I realize the policy decisions that go into the decision not to prosecute. You certainly do not want to discourage victims of sexual assault from coming forward. This is a sensitive and complicated issue. Just because a case cannot be made in some instances does not mean that the accuser is lying. I understand all that.
But this is a pretty extreme example of the damage that bringing what now appears to be a palpably false accusation of a heinous crime can cause. Lives were damaged, Duke's reputation was tarnished and the criminal justice system in Durham County took a hit as well. Is it a completely crazy notion that everybody responsible should be held accountable?
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. You may use your name, use an assumed name or leave your comments anonymously.
A note of caution: I reserve the right to edit or delete any comments that are inappropriate before they are published. So those of you that find rape jokes hilarious need not bother.