Friday, March 16, 2007

Hoax-tress Exercising Her Fifth Amendment Rights? Or not...

Despite having met twice with the special prosecutors who have replaced Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong at the helm of the Hoax, Crystal Mangum remains uncooperative while evasively answering questions about the imagined assault that has been through several rewrites since its inception, according to an exclusive report from Lara Setrakian of ABC News’ Law and Justice Unit. The office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, however, quickly denied Setrakian's report, three quarters of which was contorted to give a Nifongian impression that lack of cooperation by the complaining witness was indicative of continued trauma.
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The ABC exclusive began:

Duke Lacrosse Accuser Not Answering Investigators' Key Questions

“The woman who accused three members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team of sexual assault is not being forthcoming with special prosecutors, law enforcement sources close to the case tell ABC News.

“The accuser has met at least twice with prosecutors from the North Carolina attorney general's office, which took over the case from Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in January.

“In those interviews, she gave incomplete answers when asked about the alleged assault and the events surrounding it, according to sources.”

In contrast to the reticence employed by the hoax-tress, John Stevenson of the Herald Sun and ABC are reporting that several lacrosse players, and other knowledgeable witnesses, have been interviewed by the special prosecutors.

“[S]everal [defense attorneys] acknowledged they were impressed with the thoroughness of the attorney general's investigation, noting that the special prosecutors had interviewed numerous lacrosse players and others with knowledge of the case.” John Stevenson, Herald Sun

“According to sources close to the team, the prosecution has questioned at least eight members of the lacrosse team to date -- students who attended the party but were not among those accused." ABC News
The Attorney General’s office initially declined official comment on the accuser’s lack of cooperation:

“A spokeswoman for the office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper would not comment on the accuser's participation with the investigation.”

Curiously, and in direct contradiction to the leak, Roy Cooper was quick to deny the assertion that the accuser was evading key questions. Within an hour of its original posting, the ABC article was amended to include:

AG Denies Accuser's Lack of Cooperation

The attorney general's office issued the following statement to ABC News:

"In discussions with our attorneys, the accuser has been cooperative in answering questions and providing information. More discussions are scheduled."

Despite the denial issued by the AG’s office, the ABC article continues by reaffirming the information revealed by its source:

“The same law enforcement sources also said, however, that Kim Roberts, the second dancer who attended the March 2006 party, had also refused to speak with investigators and had said she would do so only if subpoenaed.

“Roberts has spoken to the media about the case, including doing an interview with ABC News' "Good Morning America."

“Although neither woman has been forthcoming up to this point, the sources stressed that this could change and that the accuser might still fully participate with investigators.

"In the coming weeks prosecutors will conduct further interviews with those involved in the case, leaving open the possibility that the accuser might say more about what she remembers from that night.”

In December, Defendant Nifong dropped the top count of the original indictments when the accuser expressed doubt as to whether she was actually raped. In doing so he noted that, beyond Mangum's statements, there was no additional evidence to support the charges.

“Nifong filed court papers saying that without "scientific or other evidence independent of the victim's testimony" to corroborate that aspect of the case, "the state is unable to meet its burden of proof with respect to this offense."
Washington Post

With the remaining charges based solely on the pseudo-victim’s continually changing stories, it would appear impossible for the Attorney General’s office to continue this farce if the accuser indeed refuses to cooperate. The conflict between ABC’s source and the AG’s immediate denial only serves to confuse the situation giving rise to the question of whether Setrakian’s piece was an irresponsible offering.
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Further detracting from the reliability of the article, the final three of its four pages attempt to downplay Mangum's reported, then denied, uncooperativeness by suggesting that the false accuser’s reticence is an indication that she was assaulted. Without offering the more obvious conclusion that Ms. Mangum, faced with the prospect of having to reconcile her mutually exclusive alternate versions with equally contradictory physical, scientific, and medical evidence, as well as numerous credible witness statements, has decided to remain silent rather than further incriminate herself, Setrakian parades Leah Oettinger, a victim’s advocate formerly employed with the Durham Crisis Response Center, to ensure her readers that just because everything points to "nothing happened" it doesn't mean that nothing happened.

“Victims’ rights advocates told ABC News that it could take the accuser time to get comfortable with the new prosecutors, stressing that her level of participation could change. They also say it could be part of a fairly normal reaction to what’s been a highly abnormal case.

“She probably feels very beat up by the system. If you don’t have a sense of trust in the system, then you’re certainly not going to be forthcoming,” said Leah Oettinger, an advocate most recently with the Durham Crisis Response Center.

“Even just with the vicious attacks on the Web and her picture on TV. … The trauma, the lack of trust that anyone’s going to be there for you, fear of being alone — all of that could contribute to someone’s reluctance to talk.”

Oettinger, the victims’ rights advocate, said the mix of the media glare, which included attacks on the accuser’s credibility, could contribute to her reluctance to talk about an alleged crime.

“Oettinger said that the accuser’s changing recollection of that night did not necessarily make it less likely that an assault had taken place.

“[Assault victims] don’t clearly remember the event right away. It’s not unusual and it doesn’t mean they are lying,” Oettinger said.

“When people have been through a trauma — a car crash is a good analogy — it can take them time to reconstruct the facts in their minds. Plus, sexual assault is uncomfortable for anyone to talk about.”

Former prosecutor Bull Dog Pundit reminds Ms. Oettinger that effective victim’s advocacy, while extremely valuable, requires having an actual victim.

I’ve got to tread lightly here. As a prosecutor I’ve worked with a number of advocates for the rights of crime victims, battered women, and other people who have had to live the horror of being the victim of crime. When the crime committed is rape or any other sexual assault, the victim advocates and counselors are often the ones who help the person make it through the rigors of the trial, and seeing that there is follow-up counseling.

In short they are invaluable resources not only to prosecutors and police, but most importantly, to the actual victims of the crime. I cannot imagine how tough it is to do that job, and how hard it is not to take your job home with you.

However, when I hear the comments of Leah Oettinger, an advocate most recently with the Durham Crisis Response Center, speaking about the Duke Lacrosse case, I often wonder if some of them don’t let their mission blind them to reality.

As pointed out in this story, the accuser in the case is not speaking to the new investigators assigned to look into the case. According to reports, she has given incomplete answers about what allegedly happened, and the events surrounding the night. The article does mention that some of the hesitation may be because she is uncomfortable with the new investigators, which could absolutely be true given the relationship that develops between an alleged victim and their advocates.

However, in this case, Ms. Oettinger refuses to concede that the reason the alleged victim may be uncooperative, and giving incomplete details is because of “the system”.

Ms. Oettinger, perhaps the first thing you should remember in being a victim’s rights advocate is to ensure that the person making the accusations is indeed a “victim” in the first place, and not just a flat out liar.

Ms. Oettinger may not be the only one in need of a reminder. Perhaps someone should also remind Ms. Setrakian that effective journalism may require having an actual story.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

AG Cooper's latest remarks and Lifong's lates brief for dismissal file today with State Bar.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1238006/

HumboldtBlue said...

OK, that's it. I surrender. I'm white. I'm male, therefore I am guilty. Of what you may ask? Who cares. I'm white. I'm male.

Please direct me to the nearest re-education camp so that I can be shown how my privilege and my whiteness have seriously harmed every other goddamned living thing on earth.

Please don't waterboard me. I admit it, global warming is my fault.

The fellow who was shot in NYC? My fault.

Free Mumia? Ok, it's my fault he gunned down a Philly cop, so I'll do the time.

Hillary Clinton won't get elected because she's viewed as a polarizing figure? My fault.

Duke basketball lost in the first round (chuckling gleefully)? Must be a conspiracy of white racists such as myself.

Scooter Libby was convicted... oh wait, he's white too, so he deserves jail.

The failing levees? My fault, please sentence me to do time in Nawlins.

Jet Blue canceling every flight it has ever scheduled for the rest of eternity? That's because of the terror threat that me, as a white man, poses to the rest of the free world.

Crappy Hollywood movies? Again, my fault (I do live in California) so I obviously deserve prison time.

Fatty foods? Yup, my fault.

Spoiled milk in the grocery store? that too is my fault (I do live near an awful lot of dairy farmers).

I surrender, because even if I can establish my innocence for any of the above, we all know that "something happened."

Anonymous said...

hob says (i do live near an awful lot of dairy farmers). It shows my friend!

MonkeyGirl said...

Unfortunately, the people Mangum may have hurt the most are true victims of sexual assault and rape. After this whole debaucle, who's going to take these victims seriously? Hopefully we haven't created an intimidating environment that will prevent true victims from coming forward...

Anonymous said...

Crystal has hurt the real victims of rape without question. I just hope folk will wait to see the evidence before rushing to judgement. Cash must be thrilled the team is being interviewed = although, I think he would be happier if the investigaters used rubber hoses.
Like poor Anna Nicole, is this thing never going to end?

Anonymous said...

Is Lara Setrakian male or female? The only photo I culd find on Google was a group photo of people in a helicopter. Lara Setrakian's byline is on a lot of reports from the middle-east.

Howard said...

These women "victim advocates" cast even more doubt, if that was possible, as to the legitimacy of Women's Studies Departments as part of university courses.

It is clear from all the yelling that Women's Studies is simply another form of indoctrination, again from the left, the purpose of which seems to be to enlist "women" into a political movement with as little real information as possible. We taxpayers, along with an increasingly wealthy student group parents
are paying for a lot of non-courses and more than just "questionable" departments. I will never again accept on face value the word of any woman who has majored of minored in Women's Studies.

scott said...

Lara's story is a classic case of "heads I win, tails you lose."

The scary thing is some people are stupid enough to buy it. The really scary thing is some of these stupid people would end up on a jury if this farce ever got to trial.

There's no way the defense can ever let this go to trial. The likely outcome of a trial in Durham is a hung jury. Some people who haven't made up their minds either way (those who haven't followed the details) might be inclined to think "if the defendants could not be found 'not guilty', maybe something did happen."

In that situation the chorus of "they're guilty, but the system let them get away with it" would reach a resounding crescendo and haunt the LAX 3 forever.

The defense must keep the pressure on showing Nifong and Mangum to be the liars they are to such a degree that the charges are dismissed with prejudice and all but the stupidest of the stupid (they'll never convince everyone)know that nothing happened.