Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Duke Lacrosse Case

Here is a good summary of this story.

There was a similar phenomenon in Washington State a decade ago. In a town called Wenatchee a family was accused of abusing children. They claimed they were innocent and the evidence mounted that they were. As the case’s notoriety increased and its credibility decreased, the town rallied behind the prosecutor. Basically the case against the family ended up as “this problem is so prevalent in society, so they must be guilty.” I recall a wry comment in the Wall Street Journal that this town’s Chamber of Commerce was the only one in the country that claimed the town was a hotbed of child abusers.

Getting back to Duke, the prosecutor did not interview either the alleged victim or the suspects. Key DNA evidence was suppressed. Most significant of all, one of the suspects can prove that he was elsewhere at the time of the alleged rape. Talk about reasonable doubt!

But then there’s the politics of the thing. The alleged victim is black; the suspects are white. So the black organizations are pushing for prosecution. As for the rest of the town, there is that Wenatchee phenomena at work. The prosecutor based his election on this case – he’s a real friend of the black community and this proves it – that was his pitch.

That is why this case is important. It signifies where our priorities lay. Evidence or politics. This spring a jury will have to choose.