Monday, November 06, 2006

Be careful what you ask for

For months now, interim-District Attorney Mike Nifong has implored voters to look beyond his indiscretions in the Hijacking of the Hoax. Repeatedly he, and his supporters, have suggested that he should not be judged solely on his failures and misconduct in one case. On the eve of the election, it seems that his wish has been granted.

Just when we thought the absurdity of this drama could not get any more bizarre, it appears that loyal ADA Ashley Cannon has broken ranks by leaving the District Attorney’s office on the eve of the election amid a brewing sexual harassment scandal. Time and again, Ms. Cannon had proven herself a loyal subordinate to DA Nifong, and it appears that her reward was to be subjected to an alleged pattern of sexual harassment within the DA’s office.

In the spring, Ms. Cannon provided campaign ammunition for Nifong in his hard fought primary election battle against bitter rival Freda Black, by alleging that Defense Attorney Jerry Clayton assured her that if Black won, her job would be safe. Ms. Cannon also demonstrated her loyalty to Nifong by arguing for the reinstatement and prosecution of alcohol and noise violations charges against lacrosse team captains David Evans and Dan Flannery. Her greatest attempted contribution to the Hoax, however, was her aggressive, though failed, prosecution of defense witness Moezeldin Elmostafa.

Despite Ms. Cannon’s willingness to go to bat for Nifong in each of these instances, it appears that Nifong was unwilling to return the favor when Ms. Cannon came to him with a sexual harassment complaint against ADA C. Destine Couch. While the Snooze Room again lives up to its name by ignoring the brewing scandal, the News & Observer and blogger KC Johnson are reporting that Ms. Cannon has left the DA’s office in response to the alleged pattern of sexual harassment, and Nifong’s apparent refusal to attend to the issue.
“A former Durham prosecutor said Sunday she filed a complaint with the state court system, alleging that she was sexually harassed by a co-worker and that her complaints were ignored by District Attorney Mike Nifong."
“Ashley Cannon, who was a District Court prosecutor, said she made the complaint verbally to the Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh on Friday. She made the complaint on her last day with Nifong's office after resigning to accept a new job as a prosecutor in Orange and Chatham counties."
“Cannon said in an interview Sunday that she reported the sexual harassment allegation to Nifong. "Nothing was done about it," she said.
“Nifong declined to discuss Cannon's allegation on Sunday, saying it was a personnel matter.”
“On Friday, her last day working for Nifong, Cannon spoke with the Administrative Office of the Courts, and filed an oral complaint alleging sexual harassment by Assistant District Attorney C. Destine Couch and a complaint against District Attorney Nifong for taking no action on the matter."
"Couch received some attention earlier in the case, after people noticed his racy website (which was then taken down). According to Cannon, Couch engaged in a pattern of inappropriate behavior that prompted her to file an internal complaint with David Saacks, the chief assistant district attorney. Saacks, she said, then brought the complaint to Nifong."
"I spoke this morning with Saacks. He said that he could confirm that he was "involved" with the complaint in the office, but otherwise, as a personnel matter, only Nifong could comment on the issue. Cannon said that, around four weeks ago, after Nifong showed no signs of acting, she made an appointment to speak to the district attorney."

"She reported that Nifong told her that they would talk about the matter later; and in the meantime, he would put her on a schedule that didn’t overlap with Couch. When Nifong did neither and she felt that the situation wasn’t going to improve, she decided to leave and file her complaint—against Couch for inappropriate behavior and against Nifong for inaction.”
Without passing judgment on the merits or timing of Ms. Cannon’s complaint, it should be noted that her allegations represent a fittingly ironic conclusion to the election campaign. While DA Nifong pretends that his responsibility to continue his hijacked Hoax stems from the social issues the Hoax represents, it appears that within his own office he fails to address an equally troubling social concern. Adding to the irony, in Ms. Cannon, we have a formerly loyal subordinate, and a genuine champion of women’s issues who serves on the Orange County Commission for Women, and the board of the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County, and yet her complaints are ignored by the man who pretends to be a social crusader.

Coming on the eve of an election with so many voters remaining undecided, Ms. Cannon’s allegations certainly give one more reason for Durham County voters to remove District Attorney Mike Nifong from office. How perfectly fitting it would be if the final nail in his campaign coffin turned out to be a non-Hoax related issue, born of his own neglect and emanating from within his own office.


Anonymous said...

Nifong not wanting to be judged by just one case is like a killer not wanting to be judged for just one murder.

But an issue is raised. What did Nifong do on the serious crimes he prosecuted before being kicked over, and down, to traffic?

If he was half as unethical on those cases as he has been on the LAX case, some of those convicted may have a basis for a new trial. It is hard to believe that this one man Gestapo has done this on only one case. Every serious case he has worked on should be scrutinized carefully.

In the meantime, seize Gottlieb's pension.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, stand up for a ADA that was loyal and did whatever you asked of her. Or stand up for a sex fiend ADA who's mom is the president of the Durham bar. Tough choice isn't it?

wts said...

But Nifong never talked with Ms. Cannon about the details of the incident....::))

TombZ said...

Hey, Bob-

Let's not tell the women about this 'til Wednesday, k?


Tony Soprano said...

I spoke to some influential people in Durham today that have supported Nifong in the past.

In contrast to their usually upbeat nature and hopefulness for Durham, they looked to be in shock.

They complained of Nifong's tactics. One said he had no idea that Nifong could be so vindictive.

One prominently mentioned concern was the feeling that Nifong would continue to divide the city racially to exploit this issue or that issue for his personal gain.

One woman, that had contributed money to Nifong in the past, said that Nifong is shamelessly playing the African-American community like a fiddle.

If Nifong wins, look for some people to follow Ashley Cannon of out Durham, as a last resort.


Anonymous said...

Nifong no longer had use for Ms. Cannon. He used her and threw her away. He used the 3 falsely accused young men and could care less what happens to them after he is done with them. He has used the AA community in Durham and if elected he could care less about their crime rate and prosecuting innocent black men and women. As long as he keeps his job and gets his pension. He used the few white affluent people in Durham who were just too stupid to see him for what he is. It takes a pure evil, coniving mind to be so merciless about other people. It takes a truly twisted mind, lets just put the leather mask on him now before he becomes rabid. I am truly afraid this man will lose it and do something crazy.

Anonymous said...

He already has done crazy things.

Anonymous said...

Be very careful as you approach the dying Hoax. Rumor is that Nifong is going to take out a couple of bloggers to teach us a lesson! This man is a complete and total dip sh!t

Anonymous said...

I am not a religious person, but I am praying today.

Anonymous said...

Said 10:14 PM:
"Rumor is that Nifong is going to take out a couple of bloggers to teach us a lesson! "

I am curious. I am having trouble envisioning what a DA could do. Just what could Nifong do to any blogger?