My dearest friend, of twenty years standing, doesn’t trust me. She’s quite open about it. It hurts and frustrates me at times, because during those twenty years I’ve never broken faith with her: I’ve kept her secrets, supported her in the hard days of raising teenagers and losing her mother. I’ve held her in my arms in the days after her melanoma was diagnosed. She and her adoring husband are like family to my husband and me. But she doesn’t trust me. It hurts and frustrates me…but, you know what? I understand.
Years ago, she had a FIRST Best Friend and a FIRST “Adoring” Husband…her college sweetheart, the father of her three little boys. This First Best Friend was her tennis partner and confidante, shopping buddy and shoulder to cry on. They shared a little motor home the two families vacationed in together and babysat each other’s infants. This First Best Friend kept her secrets and supported her in those hard days of raising toddlers and losing her father, and she held her in her arms when, at age thirty two, her breast cancer was diagnosed. This First Best Friend was a true “forever friend” for sure.
A year later, my friend walked in on her First Best Friend entwined in the embrace of her First “Adoring” Husband. There was an uproar, and divorces, and heartache, and gradually a kind of healing. Eventually there was a wonderful new husband and devoted new friends. All should be behind her, right?
Sadly, even after all these years, she doesn’t trust any of us. Even though she tries, she says, "You never really recover from that kind of betrayal. It’s always with you. It becomes a lens you see the world through. And the betrayal of those you trusted most is a burden THEY put on YOU that you never get to put down."
Likewise, my husband knows a man who helped his down-and-out buddy get a job at his firm. My husband’s friend was on the fast track, but a few years later he became the target of some nasty office politics. Luckily, he thought, his buddy (that was so eternally grateful to him)…. had the “evidence” to back him. But, instead, “old buddy” chose to use that moment to advance his own best interests in lieu of the truth. It’s been many years, but a few too many glasses of wine occasionally brings this old betrayal bubbling to the surface of this now very successful man’s consciousness.
He’s still bearing that burden of old betrayal too.
Now, suppose you were eighteen or nineteen. You go to a party and overnight you become the target of racist hate groups, frenzied feminists, angry activists' marches and vigils, Wanted posters, and CASTRATE! signs. An unrelenting media camps out on the family lawn, while Nancy Grace, Georgia Goslee, and Wendy Murphy enrage a nation NIGHTLY with endless ERRONEOUS details and outright lies. An ambitious, immoral prosecutor repeatedly tells the world you are either a savage rapist or a liar protecting savage rapists, and everyone believes him.
EVERYONE BELIEVES HIM.
You are helpless.
This is impossible to get your mind around, because you’ve never been hated before, really hated. You’ve never witnessed a lie with such FORCE. A lie SO MANY PEOPLE WANT so desperately to be true.
You’re a kid.
And this is happening not just in your school, or city, or state. You stand, despised and disbelieved, on a world-wide stage.
Think of it!
You need to take exams, but it’s not safe to sleep in your rented housing. In some cases, though the local papers run photos of palatial homes, your parents are just hard working people who cannot afford to house you elsewhere. So maybe you sleep in the car or stay on a couch. They stick your home address on hate sites, and you're terrified for your Mom and Dad and your siblings. What if some crazed stranger thinks your little brother is you? There are lawyer fees, and long distance trips, in some cases doctors' bills, and (I’ve heard) an average of over $10,000 per innocent family just in the early days. People hate you. Really hate you.
To those who claim the unindicted players didn’t suffer much, I ask you: Have you ever endured a worldwide, day and night, UNRELENTING, hellacious witch-hunt like this? Have you ever been its target? Has your child? Can you imagine the FEAR? Have you ever been the victim of just an average lie? Remember the frustration? Remember how it felt? Remember your helplessness? Now..imagine…imagine... being the target of a vicious lie on this scale. A lie that brings life destroying consequences and lunatic death threats. A lie that some folks love so much that no facts…. NOTHING… can convince them of its fallacy. This lie is like a sports team with ardent fans cheering it on, needing it to win FOR THEM!
Can you imagine?
You’re a kid. You’re afraid. But you don’t completely despair. Why? Because you KNOW the truth, and you believe in the truth, and you believe in the integrity of those who can help you GET THAT TRUTH out into the public. You believe in the police, the professionals, your professors and the top people at YOUR University. You believe in Duke. It’s what you hold on to…you believe in Duke.
You believe these are honorable men and women, Duke men and women, who will surely want the truth exposed as much as you, as much as your Mom and Dad. These are honorable men and women you can rely on in this maelstrom of malice, because surely they would not have risen to such positions of authority at such a fine school if they did not each possess moral courage and profound integrity.
They are your trusted port in this terrible storm.
If they tell you, “Don’t tell your parents”…you don’t. If they tell you, "This lawyer is all you need "….it must be true. If they tell you, "Meet with Gottlieb"...they are looking out FOR YOU. If they tell you, "We believe you, your championship season won’t be canceled, this will all go away"…. if they tell you, when they tell you…..whatever they tell you, you TRUST.
Until you walk in on the stunning realization one day that every last one of those at Duke you mistakenly trusted have been, from the beginning, entwined in the slimy embrace of Durham’s "rogue prosecutor" and its derelict police department.
If the facts in this third lawsuit are true, Duke was no wallflower, content to just avoid the terrified families and the inconvenient truth. Nope, no more than shy, soft-spoken Crystal Mangum was “new to dancing” and lost her shoe fleeing these hooligans in virginal despair. No, Duke was a deceiving hussy…forcing its own police force to change witness statements to prop up Pole Dancer's and Rogue Prosecutor's lies. If true, Duke was cunningly aware of the medical discrepancies that Duke Hospital nurse Tara Levicy was allegedly re-creating to suit whatever contingencies Nifong needed. If true, Duke was smug and silent while the “Blue Wall of Silence” smear might have been readily and truthfully debunked. If true, Duke was giving a knife-in-the-back on background, while appearing on the record always so demure and distressed by its own widdle, biddy, Dukie burdens it had to bear. If true, the leadership of Duke evidenced the duplicity of a Platinum Club pro, hidden behind the Dukiness of their own privileged Top-Guy positions. They did nothing as their activist faculty relentlessly and publicly attacked their own students. They allowed it, like some cheap date enjoys a drunken brawl in a bar. And these supposed paragons stood silent, passively watching the terrible mistreatment of their students, while, at the same time, they had irrefutable facts proving THEIR STUDENTS WERE INNOCENT.
If true, how incredibly shameful. How despicable.
Harvey on our Board suggested the lawyers ask the jury if they personally had ever been betrayed, even in the more common, more usual way. Had they ever been the target of a lie? Like my dearest friend, had they ever had to face the awful reality that those you trusted and respected and even revered had sold you out for their own needs and selfish gratification.
Had they endured the betrayal of:
The malicious lying neighbor.
The boss who steals credit for your work.
The co-worker who sabotages you.
The spouse who cheats on you.
The so-called friend who sells you out.
Make that jury own the frustration, the helplessness. They’ll get it. Big time. They’ll understand. We all do.
Duke University, it is alleged, had to choose between exposing an inconvenient truth or embracing and enabling a life-destroying LIE. Like that lying neighbor, that underhanded boss, that treacherous co-worker, that cheating spouse, that turncoat friend…. they knowingly betrayed these kids in a cold-hearted way we can all feel in our gut.
If true, it was the ultimate betrayal, the most horrific treachery of Duke’s responsibility and trust, and if the evidence should reveal them naked in bed, entwined with Nifong,…. every alumni, donor, parent and decent human being needs to open the door, look hard, and see them exposed.
Sunday, February 24, 2008