Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Curiously Mixed Message

On April 4, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the North Carolina NAACP State Conference, issued a statement outlining the organization’s recommendations for addressing the rape allegations by the community. This statement and the accompanying ten point plan included the following declarations:
  • How we maintain community and do justice requires tenacity to seek the truth and willingness to face the truth.
  • We in the NAACP historically have fought for the protection of all people’s civil rights.
  • We bring to this crisis the perspective of these historical experiences and wisdom.
  • We must ensure that the D.A.’s investigation be completed thoroughly.
  • We do not want a rush to judgment.
  • We must monitor the legal process to insure justice is carried out in this investigation without special privilege or treatment to anyone is shown, and the procedures for charges, arrest, and DNA---all are followed in a consistent pattern.
  • Our position as an organization whose mission is civil rights and community justice is that the investigation of the allegations are fair, meticulous, comprehensive, aggressive, and thorough.
  • Those who want to ensure justice must insist there be no short cuts to justice and we must demand that the alleged perpetrators have rights to be protected.
  • We must face this investigation when all of the facts are in.
  • We must face the truth and the justice that the truth demands.
  • We must recognize that in a moment like this moment we need the guidance of God and a moral compass, which keeps us focused, that only the truth can set us free.

While many within and outside the community have taken Rev. Barber’s words as a source of guidance and patience, it appears that at least one prominent representative of the local NAACP missed the memo. No, we are not talking about our frequent troll who threatened race riots if DA Mike Nifong was not elected, or the same if the trial court orders a change of venue. Rather, it appears that Alan McSurely, chair of the NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, either misunderstood or intentionally disregarded Rev. Barber’s wise call to face the truth, his prudent encouragement to avoid a rush to judgment, and his clear insistence that the accused young men’s rights be protected.

Within two weeks of Rev. Barber’s thoughtful proclamation, Mr. McSurely updated his outrageously entitled essay, “A Study in Arrogance, Violence and Silence” on the NC NAACP State Conference website. McSurely’s self described “running account of credible evidence” appeared, and remains to this day, directly below this inflammatory description of lacrosse:

“Since there was only one ball, early players concentrated on first injuring their opponents with their sticks, and then moving easily to the goal. Sometimes games lasted for days, and often players were gravely injured or even killed.”

With the venomous tone set by this forward, Mr. McSurely appears to abandon the principles of fairness and truth championed by Rev. Barber while rushing rapidly to judgment. Among other distortions and departures from truth contained with his "Study", the chairman of the NAACP’s legal redress committee, misinforms the community by stating definitively,

“The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at Duke Hospital confirmed that her injuries matched these reports” of the accuser being “held against her will in the bathroom, beaten, chocked, robbed, and vaginally and anally raped.”

It has been frequently noted that the findings of the in-training SANE nurse, Tara Levicy, actually contradict the claim that the accuser was beaten, chocked and raped, yet McSurely chooses to relate that her findings confirm rather than refute.

“Among other things, Nurse Levicy and Dr. Manly made the following medical findings and visual observations about [the accuser]:

  • Asked to "Describe all signs of physical trauma," Dr. Manly's complete response was: "Pt. has right extremity marks to right lateral knee scratch, non bleeding. Mark is approx. 7 cm in length. Laceration to anterior patella approx. 3 cm in length, non bleeding. Laceration to medial right heel, approx. 2 cm in length, non bleeding."
  • Thus, after a thorough sexual assault physical examination, the only physical trauma noted by Dr. Manly was three small scratches on [the accuser's] right knee and right ankle.
  • In a "Systems Examination" portion of the report, Nurse Levicy noted that [the accuser's] head, back, neck, chest, breast, nose, throat, mouth, abdomen, and upper and lower extremities were all "normal."
  • In a "Pelvic Examination" portion of the report, Nurse Levicy noted only "diffuse edema of the vaginal walls" and recorded nothing notable in the rectal examination.” TJN

Bizarrely, McSurely also presents the misleading conclusion that Seligmann’s alibi “means that one of his team mates must have done it.”

“There are only three defenses for rape charge: (1) it did not happen and the accuser fantasized it and is putting herself through perfect hell to play out some fantasy; (2) it happened, but it was consensual and the accuser really wanted to "make love," and later, because the woman is nuts, she decided to charge the man with a rape; (3) it happened, but they got the wrong man…Some of lawyers are whispering to the press they have some ATM and other documentary evidence that they say make it impossible for one of the two arrested students to have been in the bathroom raping the woman, because he was riding in a taxi, or going to a bank. The problem with this defense, is it means that one of his team mates must have done it.”

Mr. McSurely concludes his essay with apparently crossed fingers as he states,

“The NAACP’s aim is to follow the evidence as it unfolds, reporting it accurately and fairly, always seeking justice and rebuilding community” and “insist the onstitutional rights of the young men accused of rape are honored.”

Considering the tone McSurley sets with his “Study in Arrogance, Violence and Silence,” and further considering the distortions presented within, it is difficult to understand how his conclusion matches the preface and the body of his presentation.

It appears that Mr. McSurely may not be the only member of the NAACP who has chosen to oppose Rev. Barber’s wisdom. In August, an eighty-two count blanket “indictment” of the accused young men and their teammates was posted on the same website’s publicity page, where it remains today. Entitled “Duke Lacrosse Update: Crimes and Torts committed by Duke Lacrosse Team Players on 3/13 and 3/14 as Reported in the press, mainly from the Three Players’ Defense Attorneys,” the accusations made range from blatantly false to absurdly irrelevant.

The “Crimes and Torts” include the following oddities:

  • On information and belief, when trying to hire the dancers, the Captains said it was a party for the Duke Track or Baseball team, which have more African American athletes on them.
  • On information and belief, around 12:20, some men who saw the vulnerable Ms. M returning to the house called their friends who had taken cabs and gone to get some cast from an ATM. Some returned.
  • Mr. Cheshire has given out digital camera photos that have 12:37 a.m. and 12:41 a.m. on them. The first shows Ms. M in a coma on the back porch.
  • Theresa Arico, the SANE coordinator at Duke Hospital said "there was a certain amount of blunt force trauma present to create injury" and that the injuries the victim suffered were "consistent with the story she told." (Please note: Ms. Arico’s comments are taken from a Herald Sun article where she describes the standard process of the SANE exam in general terms, yet the NAACP applies her quote as if it was spoken in reference to the Hoax accuser’s examination. )
  • During the week of the party and the charges of rape made within three hours, Duke’s nationally ranked basketball team had moved into the quarterfinals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Its coach was seen several times a night giving a commercial based partly on the reputation of Duke and its athletics.

The list of “crimes and torts” concludes, incredibly, with a not so subtle accusation that appears to deviate not only from Rev. Barber’s mandate, but also from the organization’s historic efforts as a champion of civil rights, due process and equality in the criminal justice system. In an apparent attempt to cast aspersions on the investigative reporting of Joseph Neff and the multiple bombshells he has dropped on the hoax, the final charge seemingly questions the exoneration of Alan Gell, the victim of heinous prosecutorial misconduct.

“Mr. Evans consulted with his father, a Washington, D. C. lawyer, who in turn, hired one of the best criminal lawyers in North Carolina and a man with good skills at working the media, Joseph Cheshire. Cheshire had close working relationships with one of the best investigative reporters in North Carolina, Joe Neff. Cheshire and Neff together had pieced together enough evidence to help get Cheshire’s client, Alan Gell, exonerated for a crime that a jury had convicted him of, and sentenced him to the death penalty.”

Rev. Barber’s words calling for calm, fairness, justice and a willingness to face the truth initially offered hope, as did his rejection of the New Black Panthers and their messages of hatred. It is difficult, however, to understand how promotion of the Hoax, through inflammatory and deceptive statements (as noted above) by prominent members of the local NAACP, coincides with Rev. Barber’s declarations. It is also a struggle to comprehend how calling for the investigation of the allegations to be “fair, meticulous, comprehensive, aggressive, and thorough” justifies remaining silent when the investigation appears to have, with the exception of aggressive, been anything but what Rev. Barber called for.

In a recent article, North Carolina native, Dr. Thomas Sowell expressed similar disappointment with the local NAACP.

"It is especially painful to see the local NAACP joining the stampede to convict the Duke players, not only without evidence but in defiance of a growing body of evidence that points in the opposite direction." Sowell

Adding to the appearance that certain members of the local NAACP did stray from Rev. Barber’s mandate by joining the stampede to convict, rather than working to insure that there was no rush to judgment while fairness and a true determination of the facts was sought, is the following account of statements by Al McSurely:

“McSurely said the players' defense attorneys would be quick to roll out complex, ‘minute-by-minute’ accounts of the night of March 13-14, verified by ATM receipts and testimonies of cab drivers in an attempt to obscure what really happened -- a crime that, in his estimation, probably took only 10 minutes.

‘That's all it takes. ... I won't say anymore on that,’ McSurely said.”

At September’s Duke Hoax Hearing, “Doctor” Nifong revealed that his Theory of the Hoax imagined a five to ten minute duration as opposed to the accuser’s stated thirty minute account. His explanation for the change from the description given in multiple affidavits sworn to by Inv. Benjamin Himan on April 18 was the following diagnosis:

"When something happens to you that is really awful, it can seem like it takes place longer than it actually takes."

News of this change in Nifong’s Theory of the Hoax spread quickly as the media grabbed on to the newest version of the non-event. Headlines on September 22 shouted about the change.


DA: Duke Lacrosse Attack Was Brief

Says Alleged Rape In Duke Case Took 5-10 Minutes, Not 30 As
Stripper First Claimed


District Attorney: Alleged Attack in Duke Case Took Less Time Than Accuser First Claimed

The Associated Press story by Aaron Beard, which detailed this incredible twist, appeared in newspapers and on websites across the world . The blogosphere was also eager to comment on the latest version of the ever-changing Hoax. The world, it seemed, was amazed on September 22 that the District Attorney took it upon himself to alter the accuser’s own story in order to work around the airtight alibi of Reade Seligmann.

For McSurely, however, it was no surprise. His estimation described above was made five months earlier, on April 20.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

Science is Science. Two sets of DNA tests is all that it is needed. There is no evidence of assault, but rather sex with her boyfriend. For whatever reason she made a false accusation.

If Rev Barber means those words the NAACP should support the call for Nifong to drop the case.

It is that simple.

Anonymous said...

I suspect McSurely is good at manipulating a Puppet when he wants.

May not always operate the strings directly, probably never alone, but influences how they are handled often.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a transcript of Brodhead's remarks at the recent NAACP luncheon?

Anonymous said...

I sincerely wish the Duke Three, their families, and all the Duke supporters a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

In one court appearance, Nifong claims the 'attack' took only 5 to 10 minutes, although none of the police investigation notes proves that point. Then in a later court appearance, he states he has not talked to the 'accuser'. So Where did he get this evidence? In effect, he had to be flat out lying to the judge. Is perjury not a crime in NC?...or do rape accusations trump perjury under NC law? /or/ Is the judge in this case not the brightest star in the sky?

Anonymous said...

McSurely does not seem to be the brightest star in the sky either. You should pull out some of the arguments he tried to make in a case about having different property tax rates for blacks. Read here and here and here.