"Mr. Cheshire's news conference was briefly interrupted by Linwood Wilson, an investigator for the district attorney, who challenged him to show where in the documents the woman had changed her story. In an interview later, Mr. Wilson said he had seen all the evidence and that the woman, a 27-year-old student and stripper, had not changed her story."This article implied that the defense was misleading the public. One day later Cheshire sent a letter including a page from a police report recounting that the accuser said she was with 3 other girls at the house and was raped by five men. Mr. Cheshire encouraged Linwood Wilson to read his files before making statements to the press.
By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.
“It was 12:04 a.m. March 14. The question is, what happened in the next 30 to 50 minutes?”
- (i) left the residence;
- (ii) got into a vehicle;
- (iii) were convinced to return; and only then
- (iv) was the accuser forced into a bathroom and raped.
“Defense lawyers say she gave so many different accounts — that she had been raped by 3, 5 or 20 men, or not at all — that they add up to a lie. The prosecutor’s file, however, shows that, except in some initial contacts with the police, she gave a consistent account during that night and since then of how many men raped her.”
"Nikki wanted her to come into the bathroom with her and the guys. She ended up in the bathroom with five guys who forced her to have intercourse and perform sexual acts."
"Nikki and I started to leave again, and three guys grabbed Nikki," the woman wrote.
“The woman gave differing versions of whether her attackers had ejaculated inside her: she told the sexual-assault nurse she did not know, but she told Officer Himan that she thought one of them had.”
“The police recovered semen from beside the toilet — about the same spot where the woman said she had spat out semen from someone who orally raped her.”
“Investigators also found a towel in the hallway near Mr. Evans’s bedroom with semen matching his DNA. The woman had told the sexual assault nurse that someone had wiped her vagina with a rag. Mr. Evans’s lawyer said that this towel had nothing to do with her accusation, and that the semen came from other activity.”
“She also told the police that she had last had sex about a week before the party, with her boyfriend. His DNA was the only positive match with samples taken from her body.”
- (i) investigator knowledge of the contents of the medical report;
- (ii) evidence of anal trauma;
- (iii) and the inconsistencies between the physical descriptions of the suspects and the players later identified.
Investigator Knowledge of Contents of the Medical Report
One of the critical charges in the defense motions is that Nifong spoke about the contents of the medial reports before reading those reports. We know from Himan’s notes that Himan spoke to the SANE nurse on the phone on March 16th and she refused to reveal their contents because of HIPPA, but supposedly stated there were injuries consistent with a sexual assault. We also know that the time stamp on the medical report shows that it was printed on March 30th and that Himan picked it up on April 4th. Gottlieb apparently fills this gap. The article leads in the opening paragraph with a conversation between Gottlieb and the SANE nurse recounted in Gottlieb’s notes. It is now apparently this conversation that formed the basis for the statement in the affidavits for the search warrants that medical records and interviews revealed signs and symptoms consistent with a vaginal and anal rape. The article states:
On March 21, a week after an African-American woman charged that she had been raped by three white Duke University lacrosse players, the police sergeant supervising the investigation met with the sexual-assault nurse who had examined the woman in the emergency room. The sergeant, Mark D. Gottlieb, reviewed the medical report, which did not say much: some swelling, no visible bruises.
But the sergeant’s case notes also recount what the nurse told him in response to his questions:
...that the woman appeared to be in so much pain that it took “an extended period of time” to examine her, and that the “blunt force trauma” seen in the examination “was consistent with the sexual assault that was alleged by the victim.”
This opening paragraph immediately raises several questions. If Gottlieb reviewed the report on March 21st, why does the report indicate that it was not printed until March 30th and why did Himan have to go pick it up on April 4th? Why is Himan the investigator that called the SANE nurse and the one that that signed the affidavit yet Gottlieb is the one who spoke to the nurse in person (apparently without Himan) and the one who heard all significant injuries, many of which are not documented? Why didn’t Himan talk to the SANE nurse with Gottlieb? If Gottlieb’s report wasn’t written, how did Himan know what the interviews and medical records revealed when he signed the affadavits? If the accuser was in so much pain, why were there not more injuries detailed in the medical report? Was this pain noted by other examining physicians in their reports? Is “blunt force trauma” a medical term that appears elsewhere in any of the medical reports?
Evidence of Anal Trauma
One of the key items from the early revelations about the medical report is that there is nothing written about anal injuries. This appears dramatically inconsistent with an anal rape. Gottlieb tries to fill in this gap with this story in his notes:
“The victim was at home alone with her two young children,” the sergeant wrote, noting she walked slowly and in obvious pain. “Her facial expressions conveyed her pain as she ambulated.” She sat so neither hip touched the sofa. "Anytime her bottom touched the sofa cushion while repositioning during our interview, she groaned and had a facial expression consistent with pain.”
So now we are to believe that Gottlieb’s observations about how the accuser was sitting are more credible than the medical reports? The article does state that Dr. Julie Manly and Ms. Levicy “confirmed “tenderness” in the vagina and the rectum.” In addition, Gottlieb states in his notes that Ms. Levicy stated “the victim had edema and tenderness to palpitation both anally and especially vaginally.” In a gang rape like what has been alleged, how likely is it that there would be more damage to the vagina than the anus?
Finally the most disturbing portion of Gottlieb’s notes is the descriptions of the suspects. The article compares Himan’s recollection of the victim’s description to Gottlieb’s notes.
In Officer Himan’s handwritten notes, the woman described all three as chubby or heavy. Adam: “white male, short, red cheeks fluffy hair chubby face, brn.” Matt: “Heavy set short haircut 260-270.” Bret: “Chubby.”
The descriptions in Sergeant Gottlieb’s notes are more detailed and correspond more closely to the men later arrested: Collin Finnerty, 20, a slender 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds with light hair; Mr. Evans, 23, 5-foot-10, 190 pounds and with dark hair; and Mr. Seligmann, 20, who is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds with dark hair.
Sergeant Gottlieb wrote: “She described the three men as 1) W/M, young, blonde hair, baby faced, tall and lean, 2) W/M, medium height (5’8”+ with Himan’s build), dark hair medium build, and had red (rose colored) cheeks, and the third suspect as being a W/M, 6+ feet, large build with dark hair.”
This is almost ironclad proof that Gottlieb fabricated the notes to improve the state’s evidence. If his notes were accurate, why was Collin Finnerty, who appears to be described perfectly as “young, blonde hair, baby faced, tall and lean” left out of both the photo lineups on March 16th and March 21st? How would that even be possible? If the accuser remembered her attackers so perfectly, why didn’t she pick anyone on March 16th or March 21st? Further, how could Himan have written the descriptions so completely inaccurately? This is extremely suspicious.
The New York Times has published an article that is lengthy but chooses to ignore many of the basic facts of the case. Was the New York Times really so taken in by the sudden magical appearance of Gottlieb's notes four months after the night of March 13th? With the release of these notes it is eminently clear that Nifong is not the only evil actor in this travesty. It is extremely disappointing that the New York Times would chose to facilitate rather than expose this hoax.