“Countless black men have been falsely accused in the past.....so what's such a big deal about these lacrosse players?”
“The Duke lacrosse players were no angels – they had a previously established history of rowdiness tarnished with racial comments” Crowley
“And - the District Attorney believed her. Experienced as a litigator, he had every reason to. Since then, according to what we read in the papers, it turns out maybe the rape didn't happen. But I can't hold the DA's reaction against him.” Smith
“Nifong might not be in the right legally, but that doesn’t mean he's not doing the right thing.” Malaklou“The defense attorneys are trying to use smoke and mirrors to deceive the public into believing that their clients shouldn't go to jail for committing a heinous crime. Let's hope it doesn't work.” Blasberg
"In the past few days, I've heard smart people I respect reiterate their belief that Nifong has been seriously wrong to continue pursuing the case to this point. I've heard others say with passion that dropping the case now would only prove that the fix is in, that money and power will always triumph. Tuesday's election results probably did nothing to close the gap between those perceptions.
A trial won't, either, but it has a chance of reassuring many in the community who indicated by their votes Tuesday that, with or without doubts about how the case has proceeded, they want to see this resolved in a rational fashion." Ashley
"The Hoax BeginsWhile much has been made of the News and Observer’s possible culpability in the instigation of the drama that followed its story from the same day, the Herald Sun article that appeared on March 25th began the perpetuation of the invented conspiracy of silence theory.Herald Sun reporter Brianne Dopart wrote:“Addison said police approached the lacrosse team with the five-page search warrant on March 16, but that all of the members refused to cooperate with the investigation. The refusal led officials to issue a "non-testimonial" order -- which allows police to threaten suspects with legal consequences if they choose not hand over evidence -- for each player's DNA."Cpl. David Addison is quoted as saying:"Addison said it was "unfortunate" that police had to go to such lengths, but that the team members "denied participation or knowing anything.""Addison said the team got several chances to cooperate with police and that the non-testimonial order was issued only after the players kept silent.""We never would have had to do those swabs if they would've cooperated," he said. Addison said police can't force samples from anyone they believe to be implicated in a crime. But he said that, in this situation, there was "really, really strong physical evidence" that police will be able to compare with DNA results.”The following day, Ms. Dopart added:“Police say they went to the 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. house on the morning of March 14 but that no one answered the door. They returned March 15 with a search warrant."Counting The Initial Deceptions1. Police did not approach the entire lacrosse team with a warrant on March 16th, nor did anyone refuse to cooperate on that date. A warrant was served on March 16th, and each resident of 610 Buchanan asked to cooperate did exactly that.2. The refusal above did not exist and therefore cannot have been the cause for the non-testimonial order.3. In reality, the team cancelled one meeting in order to retain counsel first, and did not miss “several chances to cooperate.”4. The "really, really strong physical evidence" was really, really strong enough to be disregarded when it matched someone other than any of the members of the lacrosse team. The DNA found in the accuser belonged to her boyfriend, and not to any of the lacrosse players.5. Durham Police went to the house on March 14th in response to the 911 call by Kim Roberts, and not in response to the rape allegations. In her 911 call, Kim Roberts complained of racial slurs, but assured the dispatcher she was not hurt in any way.6. Police did not return to the house on March 15th with a warrant. The warrant was not issued until March 16th.*While the details of #5 and #6 may seem petty, the addition of the phantom visits on additional days helped to create the intended impression that there was a concerted effort to avoid cooperation.In the ensuing days, we would see the Wall of Silence Hoax grow rapidly out of these misrepresentations. CrimeStoppers (or somebody claiming to be CrimeStoppers) and the News & Observer issued vigilante posters, professional protestors and deceived neighbors gathered for vigils prominently featured on the nightly news. The loudest voice of all, that of the Hijacker of the Hoax, would soon chime in."
In recent weeks, the Herald-Sun has seemed to go out of its way not to provide basic information about the case that conflicts with the editorial page’s line that regardless of the extent of D.A. Mike Nifong’s procedural misconduct, a trial must occur. Some typical examples, based on a recent Lexis/Nexis review, of what anyone who exclusively reads the Herald-Sun would not know:
- That Durham city procedures contain General Order 4077, which requires all eyewitness ID lineups to contain five fillers per every suspect, an independent investigator to run the array, and the eyewitness to be informed that the suspects might or might not be in the array. The News&Observer revealed the information; the Herald-Sun has contented itself with repeating claims that defense attorneys have suggested Nifong’s April 4 lineup doesn’t pass constitutional muster.
- That Nifong sent a bizarre e-mail to members of the Animal Control Advisory Committee, saying that “was truly dismayed at the number of my fellow board members who signed the Lewis Cheek [petition].” He added, “Since it is apparent that many of you do not have confidence in me, I intend to reassess the position of my office with respect to representation on the board and to inform you of my decision about whether we will continue to participate within the next two weeks . . . Animal control is a very important issue in Durham, and it is crucial that the [committee] be comprised of people who can work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.” Again, the News & Observer broke the story; the Herald-Sun followed up a day later mentioning “reports” of Nifong’s displeasure but never saying that Nifong started the controversy by sending an e-mail.
- That Duke law professor James Coleman, a former chief counsel to the House Ethics Committee (when the Democrats controlled the House), publicly demanded appointment of a special prosecutor because of Nifong’s myriad procedural irregularities; and that Coleman commented, “I don’t think he’s showing detached judgment. I personally have no confidence in him.” Yet again, the News & Observer broke the story; the Herald-Sun has never mentioned Coleman’s position, which he reiterated in an interview for Sports Illustrated.
- That, contrary to city procedures and elementary principles of due process, the police conducted a photo ID lineup with the accuser whose results they then ignored. Take a guess which paper revealed the information, which, like Coleman’s demand, has never been mentioned in the Herald-Sun.
At nearly every turn the Herald Sun has been at DA Nifong’s side to offer rationalization, apology, and confusion in its incessant propaganda campaign to prejudice the community against the defendants. When it was revealed that scientific hair analysis disproved the false assertion that a date rape drug had been employed, the Snooze Room did not hesitate to cast doubt by trotting out irrelevant comments by an expert, commenting on standard blood and/or urine testing (rather than hair analysis), and the bizarre assessment made by the Kroger security guards nose. At the time, we commented commented:
[Herald Sun's William] West:
“Forensic consultant Shannon Miller, also a physician and associate professor of psychiatry at Wright State University in Ohio, said conducting date-rape drug testing is standard procedure. Negative results, he said, don't necessarily mean no substances were used. That's because some drugs can wash out of the body quickly, he said, also citing the importance of the timing of the test. But Miller said the bottom line is that the defense can reach back and cover a fair chunk of time and say, "Look, there were no drugs there."
West also apparently attempts to use the statements of “renowned medical authority,” Kroger’s Security Guard Angel Altmon, to dispute the scientific results of the hair analysis: “One of the security guards, Angel Altmon, told The Herald-Sun that when she called police, she told the dispatcher the woman was sitting in a car and was "intoxicated, drunk or something."
"Somebody must have slipped her something, because she wasn't drunk," Altmon
told the newspaper. "If she was drunk, I would have smelled something."
It should be noted that the accuser’s own admission contradicts Altmon’s expert sniff analysis. The accuser claimed that she willingly consumed somewhere between one beer, two beers and lots of alcohol, to the point that she was “drunk and did not feel pain” depending on which version a person chooses to believe. While it is uncertain whether Ms. Altmon’s nose will be qualified as an “expert” for trial testimony, an article published by the United States Department of Justice seems to indicate that hair analysis, as far back as 1995, has been used to detect the presence of drugs for as long as 60 days after ingestion.
When at a loss for tangible ways to fight the avalanche of exculpatory evidence made public, the Herald Sun simply places blame on the defense attorneys.
“The Herald-Sun [has] tried to consistently remind [readers] that the defense attorneys are releasing just what fragments of the total evidence they choose to make public.” JiC
When ‘60 Minutes’ broadcast a double length expose’ of the travesty the Hoax has become, the Herald Sun issued another prejudicial editorial which Duke University Law Professor James Coleman described as an “ugly caricature:”
“Your editorial about the recent "60 Minutes" report mischaracterizes both what the district attorney's role has been in the Duke lacrosse rape case and why some of us have criticized him. Like much of the media hype that has surrounded the case, your editorial turns the case into an ugly caricature by suggesting that the decision to prosecute the Duke students was made by a valiant prosecutor on a white horse who is defending a helpless black woman who "ranks near the bottom of society." That is what the prosecutor also suggested when he told a largely African-American audience that he personally would protect "this black girl" from the hooligans at Duke. I find that characterization of the case offensive and patronizing. Why do you say the accuser is "near the bottom of society?" She is an apparently talented student and mother who dances to support herself and her child. She is a woman, not a "black girl." Trying to make this case about race and class has done a great disservice to Durham. From the start, it should have been handled as just an alleged rape that had to be investigated and prosecuted if the evidence warranted it. As someone who has criticized Nifong's handling of the case, I have not called for him to dismiss it; rather, I have suggested only that a special prosecutor be appointed who can make the kind of disinterested decisions about the case that Nifong has shown himself incapable of making. If the case goes to trial, it should be based on the strength of the evidence against the defendants, rather than as a convenient way to shift responsibility for ending what now appears to be a highly questionable prosecution to a judge or jury.”
When the second dancer Kim Roberts reaffirmed that she did not witness anyone assaulting the accuser at the party, the Herald Sun fought back by allowing City Manager Patrick Baker to falsely assert, unchallenged, that Kim had strayed from the statements she gave to police.
"If the dancer says one thing to our officers and another to '60 Minutes,' it raises questions about her credibility and the credibility of the entire case," Baker said. "The Police Department is at the whim of the evidence given to them. ... If people have given the Durham Police Department the wrong information, it's certainly going to affect the DA's ability to prosecute the case."
But, he cautioned, "Keep in mind these men were indicted by a grand jury. ... It wouldn't be the first time an indictment has occurred based on information that is later proven to be false. I think justice needs to be served. I don't want anyone to go through indictments when they're innocent. If the witness or the victim is not telling the truth, that's going to come out." LS
When videotapes of the accuser dancing nimbly surfaced along with witnesses claiming that she returned to work shortly after the accusations, while simultaneously feigning pain in order to obtain prescription pain medication, the Herald Sun resorted to publicizing details of Victor Olatoye’s apparently retracted affidavit. At the time, we noted how the Snooze Room continued the deception while other's clarified the record:
[The Herald Sun's John] Stevenson writes:
“In a sworn affidavit, a copy of which was obtained by The Herald-Sun this week, Olatoye said he had reviewed a recent CBS TV "60 Minutes" video clip that purported to show the accuser dancing in his club on March 26.”
“He disputed the timing of the clip.”
"The video is at my club and was prior to the rape," Olatoye wrote. "I am certain of this because [the accuser] has not stripped at my club since the rape occurred."
Living up to its new moniker, the Snooze Room treated Olatoye’s affidavit as if it had merit, while Duff Wilson thoroughly debunked Stevenson’s efforts to push the affidavit by employing Olatoye's own words.
[The New York Times' Duff] Wilson reports:
“Victor O. Olatoye, owner of the Platinum Club in Hillsborough, N.C., where the woman worked, had signed an affidavit for the Durham district attorney saying she had not performed at his club since February, and that the video had to have been taken before March 13.”
“But in the interview Thursday, Mr. Olatoye, 44, said that after filing his affidavit on
Oct. 18 he found records showing that the woman had worked on March 23, March 24 and March 25. Mr. Olatoye also said he recognized her dancing on the video, even
though her face was obscured.”
“I saw the clip and I believe that was her, yes,” he said, adding that she has not worked at the club since March 25.
“Mr. Olatoye said that a day after he had signed the affidavit he told the district attorney’s office that he needed to change it. But an investigator for the office, Linwood Wilson, said Mr. Olatoye never told him about the new information, and added that he was now expected to file a new affidavit on Friday.”
Mr. Childress’ comments echo those spoken months ago by NCCU students Candice Shaw, Deondra Ramsey, and Chan Hall; resemble the sentiments expressed by local Democratic party leader Harris Johnson; and offer further evidence that District Attorney Nifong’s rationalizations for pressing forward without regard for justice have played to a captive audience.
"This is a race issue," said Candice Shaw, 20. MSNBC
"People at Duke have a lot of money on their side." Chan Hall, 22, said, "It's the same old story. Duke up, Central down." Hall said he wanted to see the Duke students prosecuted "whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past." MSNBC
N.C. Central Senior Class President Deondra Ramsey: “Our biggest concern is that the issues that traumatize us will be forgotten when this case is over.” The Nubian
Historian and North Carolina Central graduate Harris C. Johnson, referenced a case in which a Black man was arrested for raping a White woman, but was released when police realized that they had the wrong guy.
"Those lacrosse players met the profile. Why weren't they arrested?" Johnson asked Nifong. "What's the difference? Is it the billion-dollar endowment of Duke, which can buy anything and everyone?" BET
"This goes to show that justice can't be bought by a bunch of rich white boys from New York," said Harris Johnson, a former state Democratic party official and Durham resident for 56 years. "Duke has a habit of sweeping things under the carpet. I guess this goes to show that no matter how much money you have, Durham is owned by its citizens," he added. Johnson
"It is a case that talks about what this community stands for." - Nifong
"I'm not going to allow Durham's view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham." - Nifong
“I think that I have a responsibility to prosecute this case. I think that really nothing about my view of the case and my view of how the case ultimately needs to be handled has been affected by any of the things that have occurred. You can make the case go away pretty easily. Anybody could. The next D.A., or me if I were so inclined. You can do it with the stroke of a pen. But that does nothing to address the underlying divisions that have been revealed. My personal feeling is the first step to addressing those divisions is addressing this case.” -Nifong
"If a case is of such significance that people in the community are divided or up in arms over the existence of that case, then that in and of itself is an indication that a case needs to be tried."-Nifong
Sadly, it appears that NCCU associate law professor, Fred Williams, may have been quite prophetic when he stated:
"A significant part of this community is made up of minorities-this is a chance to get back at the white folks." The Chronicle
Certainly, many of these expressions are extreme view points, and not representative of the Durham community as a whole. Professor Williams notes that there are also fragments of the community that are also quite opposed to the District Attorney and his dubious prosecution.
Hearing the radical sentiments, however, echoed by a man in a position to influence the editorial agenda of the county’s only major daily, and noting the extremely slanted coverage offered to date by that same newspaper, extends the prejudicial impact of Mr. Childress' statements from a reflection of an isolated, individual viewpoint to that of an influential opinion maker. Quite possibly, Mr. Childress, and the Herald Sun, have just made themselves the defense attorneys best “friends.”
*The items presented above reveal only a brief sampling of the Herald Sun's efforts to promote the Hoax. Additional discussion of the Snooze Room's propaganda campaign can be found here:
JiC: The ABC's of Decline
LS: Does Ashley Read His Own Paper?
LS: Letters to the Obfuscator
LS: The Editor Strikes Back
KC Johnson: Squaring the Semi-Circle
LS: A Minor Inconvenience
LS: The Accidental Outrcy Witness, '60 Minutes' Style
LS: Collective Empowerment
LS: Snooze Room Update
LS: Durham DA Race Heats Up, Ashley Pretends Not to Notice
DBR: Herald Sun Decline Continues
KC Johnson: Joined at the Hip.
KC Johnson: Herald-Sun: We Conceal, You Decide
KC Johnson: Ashley's Eyes Wide Shut
KC Johnson: Herald Sun Hilarity
KC Johnson: Court TV Will Have The Answer
KC Johnson: Press (In)Action
KC Johnson: Ashley's Path To Scottsboro
KC Johnson: Scott Bass on the Snooze Room
KC Johnson: Snooze Room Turns on Nifong
KC Johnson: Nifong Cracking Up
KC Johnson: Herald-Sun: We Conceal, You Decide
Meet the Enablers: Bob Ashley
Meet the Enablers: The Exact Moment When Durham Cheerleader Ashley Turns Into The Universal Butt of The Joke
In Search of One Courageous Editor
The Ballad of Bob and Mike
What is going on at the Herald Sun?
JiC: Letter to Ashley
JiC: Ashley's Ashes
JiC: The N&O vs Ashley's Pravda
TJN: Death of the Herald Sun
TJN: The Durham Pravda
TJN: Herald Sun in a Death Spiral
CM: Nifong the Ghost Writer