A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tawana Brawley Redux

Tawana Brawley Redux
-- Special Libertarian Librarian Correspondent John Heeder

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong could learn a thing or two from the Reverend Al Sharpton. For the memory impaired among you; back in 1987 Tawana Brawley went missing. The a 15-year-old black girl was found four days later covered in dog feces and with racial slurs written on her body.

Now a crime like that is heinous enough to outrage anyone. Tawana claimed that up to six white men, one of them possibly a cop, had repeatedly raped her in the woods in upstate New York. Sharpton took up Brawley's cause. You can’t blame him too much, the possibility for headlines and publicity would be too much for any slick operator to pass over. But, as everyone in the whole mess would find out, you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

The Reverend Al and company immediately selected local prosecutor Steve Pagones as the guilty party. They made up to 33 separate assertions that Pagones had kidnapped, abused, and raped Brawley. These accusations were made over national media, back in the day when there weren’t blogs and more than one cable news networks and the internet to fact check the “all-to-eager to slander the police” national press.

The case fizzled when investigators discovered that Brawley was lying, and that Sharpton and company knew she was lying. The whole thing was a hoax. Eleven years later (note that: 11 years) Pagones won a defamation lawsuit against Sharpton and Brawley and Brawley’s lawyers. The payout was pathetic: Pagones won a $65,000 payday from Sharpton. Johnnie Cochran paid the award, and Johnnie Cochran could dig $65,000 out of his couch cushions.

Pagones was harassed, slandered, and victimized by the national media, and he ran up huge legal bills to defend himself, all because the Rev Al saw a chance to eclipse Jesse Jackson.

Fast forward to April, 2006. Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong is up for re-election in a racially mixed town. 46 college athletes (members of the Duke University Lacrosse team) are getting together to party. The athletes hired a stripper. The stripper later claims that three of the athletes raped her.

There is no physical evidence she was raped. The stripper claimed she scratched the attackers, but no DNA was found anywhere on her, including under her fingernails. A second stripper at the party has, according to defense attorneys, stated point blank that she does not believe the allegation. The defense claims they have time stamped photos showing typical proceedings of such an event, which shows a stripper doing her job, not being victimized. The police, later the same night, found the stripper passed out from being drunk, but in no immediate need of medical attention.

Mike Nifong is pressing ahead with his rape case against these athletes. Does he have information not made public? Perhaps one of the athletes is ratting his pals out? Or, is Mike Nifong thinking of his career and his re-election? Is he really going to destroy the reputations and the bank accounts of these young men and their families on a “he said – she said” case?

Mike Nifong had better win this walking away. If he doesn’t, he’ll be this generation’s version of that beloved democratic icon, Al Sharpton.

Someone get Mr. Nifong a flea collar, on standby.

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Not the reaction you were looking for, I'm sure John.
I'm crushed.
One sealed indictment so far. I'm curious to see if the D.A. drops the charges after the election.
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