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It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Mike Pressler was the head coach of the Duke Lacrosse team. Under
his leadership the team won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships,
ten NCAA tournament berths, and made an appearance in the 2005 Division I
men's lacrosse championship game. He now coaches the lacrosse team at Bryant
College in Rhode Island.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
THE PERFECT STORM
It was a postcard-perfect Monday afternoon in North Carolina on March 13, 2006. A brilliant sun was accompanied by temperatures in the midseventies. The campus of Duke University was peaceful and relatively empty with the arrival of spring break. Dukies, with the exception of athletic teams in season such as mens lacrosse, welcomed the reprieve. The city of Durham, meanwhile, embraced a new work week. Durhamites savored the crisp, clean air as they scurried around town and tackled their to-do lists. Little did they know the perfect storm had started to churn on the horizon.
The Perfect Storm?
Yes, thats exactly what would occur. Not a drop of rain would fall in Durham over the next twelve hours, but an extraordinary combination of events would devastate a prestigious university and a proud city, changing many lives forever. Not rain, not snow, not wind would cause this massive destruction.
The elements that produced this perfect storm were in a powder keg, just waiting to be ignited. That powder keg, located in the living room at 610 North Buchanan Boulevard, was packed with the politics of privilege, race, sex, and money. As the alcohol flowed, and music filled the air, the fuse was lit.
There was an explosion around midnight.
Duke University, ranked as the thirteenth Best University in the World in 2006 by the New York Times Higher Education Supplement, is extraordinarily picturesque. Grand Gothic buildings covered in warm, gold- toned brick stand high above the magnolia and dogwood trees that fill the campus. An aura of privilege and excellence surround the thousands of eager, bright students who pay an annual tuition in excess of forty-four thousand dollars and rush to keep pace with their demanding academic and social schedules. However, the university's beautiful exterior couldn't conceal the turmoil beneath.
People love to hate Duke. Though no one can pinpoint exactly why, everyone has a theory. John Burness, Dukes senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, believes it stems from the school's reputation. Once the darling underdog, Duke is now viewed as a powerful elitist. Its attitude, intellect, and wealth set an exclusive standard, similar to the success exhibited by professional baseball's New York Yankees. Most of the Ivy League despise the thought that Duke is trying to be something it's not: one of them. In the Ivies' minds, Duke is a poser, striving to emulate an image Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania spent centuries developing.
"I really believe that if this had occurred almost anywhere else in the country, it wouldn't have been this big," Burness said. "It would have been big, but nowhere as big as Duke. We are on a pedestal. I think the factor that put this one over the top, with all the other elements -- and God, it had all the other elements -- was that this was Duke."
Those "other elements":
Outside the "Duke Bubble," as many students call it, you enter Durham, a vibrant and growing city that can also be especially dangerous in places. It was the murder capital of North Carolina in 2005, boasting thirty-seven murders, the highest murder rate per capita. Though not all of Durham adheres to the poor, blue-collar family image the media portrays, nevertheless, its crime rate and poverty levels are alarming. The contrast between the surrounding community and the young, elite, predominately white Dukie is startling and cause for friction. The national media have described Durham as "a small Southern town where conflict over race and class dominates daily life." Even the Princeton Review noted in 2006 that "Duke and Durham have one of the most strained town-gown relationships in the nation."
Duke's president, Richard Brodhead, entered uncharted waters when he walked onto Duke's campus four years earlier. He was a shy, scholarly man from Yale, and big-time sports at the Division I level were foreign to him. Brodhead was unsure how to balance athletics and academics, a combination that Duke views with beaming pride. In fact, 10 percent of Duke's undergraduate students are athletes. Brodhead speaks in long, elegant passages and often quotes Shakespeare. His timid, calm demeanor is surprising for a man of such power. In the midst of this struggle to establish himself, he was forced to manage a faculty becoming more vocally radical in its political views. Brodhead had watched just a month earlier as his contemporary Harvard President Lawrence Summers fell victim to that university's more extreme professors and wanted to ensure he didnt suffer a similar fate. It was a balancing act that could easily tip with the slightest disturbance.
Mike Nifong was nearing the end of his term as Durham's interim district attorney. Despite the promise he had made to Governor Mike Easley, Nifong went back on his word and decided to run for the office. However, he trailed badly in the polls to a former colleague in the district attorney's office, Freda Black, who helped successfully handle the explosive and televised Michael Peterson murder case in 2003. As the gap between the two candidates grew, so did Nifong's desperation: He used thirty thousand dollars of his own money to continue campaigning. What he needed was a moment that would guarantee him free publicity.
Some police officers seemed to specifically target Duke students. Sergeant Mark Gottlieb had arrested ten times as many Duke students as the district's other three squad commanders combined. Students whom he had arrested alleged that Gottlieb occasionally used violent tactics and misrepresented the truth in court. Gottlieb arrested or incarcerated Duke students at a higher rate than nonstudents, even when they were accused of less serious crimes than the nonstudents, according to a news report.
Duke's lacrosse team had, in the minds of some, developed a reputation for living loud and large. Players were athletic, smart, and handsome, a trifecta that generated adulation and envy. "In the order of the social universe of Duke undergraduates, the lacrosse players ranked at the top of the dominance hierarchy," wrote Peter J. Boyer of The New Yorker. They tended to be the children of white, prosperous families, products of Northeastern preparatory schools, where the game is a fixture; after graduation most of them go on to lucrative careers in fields like finance...they were also known as enthusiastically social creatures, partiers of the very highest order. The team exemplified the Duke student body motto of "work hard, play hard," causing resentment on and off campus. The team traveled in packs and "got all the best women," joked former Duke lacrosse captain Matt Zash. Though many involved with the team would dispute the image, Baltimore Sun columnist David Steel wrote, "It's a sport of privilege played by children of privilege and supported by families of privilege."
Add to this volatile mixture two African-American strippers -- with criminal records and wild imaginations. Kim Roberts, who went by the stage name Nikki, dropped out of college after two years when she got pregnant. She married the father of her child but was divorced soon after. After she took a job as a payroll specialist, her employers caught her stealing twenty-five thousand dollars. Embezzlement charges stood in the way of any future employment, so she began stripping. Crystal Gail Mangum, also known as Precious, was a North Carolina Central University student and divorced mother of two. It was known within the community that she had a history of mental instability and abused drugs and alcohol. In 2002, Mangum pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of larceny, speeding to elude arrest, assault on a government official, and driving while impaired.
The perfect storm.
On the afternoon of March 13, Duke's nationally ranked lacrosse team searched for ways to escape the spring-break boredom. Golf was a popular option. Many other guys spent the afternoon at 610 North Buchanan Boulevard, drinking beer, talking about women, and playing an outdoor game called washers. In this version, players tossed small washers underhand through holes cut into wooden panes the size of doors on the ground five feet away. When conversation turned to the night's entertainment, faces lit up. A few years ago the team unveiled a tradition of meeting at Teaser's Mens Club one night during spring break. However, players had run into a problem that threatened the fun at this local strip club: Some of their underage teammates were carded and denied entry in 2005. In what they thought was a stroke of genius, the players decided to bring the strip club to them. "The reality is that every guy that we know in every fraternity and on every sports team had had strippers to their house," one player said. "We thought, 'Whats the downside?' We could control what we got. The thinking was we needed to control the atmosphere."
The elements began to spin.
In this age of instant access, there's no need to flip through Durham's 151-page telephone book to find live entertainment. The Internet was easier. Only a few keystrokes were needed to find escort services and dancers on yellowpages.com. Among the first to pop up: Allure Escort Services. No one knew, when one of the team's four lacrosse captains, Dan Flannery, made the call, using the name Dan Flannigan, that his afternoon call would ring in the ghetto of East Durham. "The address is actually an out-of-service gas station on some random street," senior lacrosse captain Matt Zash recalls. "It's just a front. It doesn't even exist. It's just someone with a cell phone that has a network of girls that he can call up."
After first dialing a number that was out of order, Flannery punched in the telephone number for Allure Escort Services in his cellular phone at 2:00 P.M. He had a connection. A ring followed. Flannery explained he was looking for entertainment for a party.
"What do you want?... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B000QRIHFC
- Publisher : Pocket Books (June 12, 2007)
- Publication date : June 12, 2007
- Language : English
- File size : 824 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 348 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1416551468
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #523,477 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This was an emotional true story that was well told and included many memorable characters, heroes and villains. In this book conflicts run from the elite Ivy envious Duke University and the local Durham residents, from the black woman accuser and white male defendants, from liberal academia to team athletes. The inherent resentment of self proclaimed intellectuals whose very salaries and existence expanded from the revenue of major sports created (not lacrosse, football and basketball). Many academics looked condescendingly on the student athlete. That resentment simmered until this false claim of rape gave them an excuse to boil over into the perfect storm of false accusations.
The actions in the book ultimately lead to the truth that the accused were all innocent. It also resulted in many financial settlements to avoid the embarrassment of lost law suits.The book portrays Duke University as containing many shills interested in their own welfare and not the students they are paid to teach.There are few leaders but many politicians running the campus, with their own political agenda, who could care less for the students.
There were many who could be villains in this book, but the main culprit was the ultimately disgraced DA. His lies to the court and withholding evidence will cause many in the future to unfortunately doubt prosecutor integrity. He behaved so badly he was disbarred and the man who appointed him apologized for having done so. The DA acted without facts, he never even interviewed the accuser until too late. Political gain drove him to drive for prosecution through public pandering. He hid evidence that would have exonerated the accused. A disgrace no doubt, yet he received no prison term despite his proven disregard for the law. The 88 Duke professors who basically agreed in the guilt of the players (and took out an ad implying such) despite no evidence demonstrated to many in academia the outcome when a lack of balanced views on campuses results in such one sided anti-student behavior.
The coach seemed a likely hero (he did co-write the book), and his leadership and loyalty to his players was repeatedly proven. Unlike the academics, he didn't "throw the players under the bus." The heroes included the lacrosse players who stood stalwart against the accusations.The coach's wife and daughter were also heroic in their strength against all sorts of attacks in their personal lives.
Despite all the inappropriate behaviors in this mess, the only person who lost his job was the coach. Huh? A travesty no doubt, but on follow up I read he has moved forward and continued his positive successful coaching career elsewhere.
We can take away from this very good book that the wealthy can afford a lengthy defense, but what about the rest of us? Will we encounter a DA like this and be overwhelmed by their actions? Will our collegiate children be intimidated by politically one-sided professors, so they fear to speak out? In this book we see some professors that teach their own agenda and administrators who look out for their own jobs. Will universities that claim they have their students education as a priority eventually experience a decrease in contributions that support these inappropriate behaviors?
Only after facing huge financial damages from the coach did Duke apparently apologize and settle out of court.
"It's Not about the Truth" keeps the reader engaged and emotionally involved. Anger and frustration come through in every chapter. While the topics aren't new, it is a reminder that weasels exist despite the level of education or legal title. And heroes are formed by what they do, not by their social status or age. The included letters by the coach's daughter and wife are powerful. Reading how the Group of professors and top administrators try to defend their original biased actions simply exposes how they have fallen. And with no accountability whatsoever.
Maybe this could happen anywhere. But these events in this location with these law enforcers, professors and administration was truly as the author describes, "the perfect storm." Scary, but true. A book that is disturbing and well worth reading.
The then-Duke "leadership" and the flaming liberal academics who sought to use this sad event as a platform to air their opinions are actually married to same principle of cowardice! Go look at the Constitution and the principles of American justice: Innocent until proven guilty...as opposed to the comment reflected in the book, "Innocent until proven innocent!"
To paraphrase Dave Evans, I hope none of them ever experience the same ordeal these families endured!
NIFONG was his name. He is sinister. To send innocent people to prison, for something they did not do and ruin their lives, and their family lives is an act of the devil.
Nifong was disbarred and went to jail., not long enough. but should have gone for the time the accused would have spent in prison.
It is chilling that this goes on , and he almost got away with it only he messed around with kids whose parents had money.
Prosecuter position is political and some will go to any length to get the vote. SHAME on all of them who do this evil .
Most of the time the prosecutor only get voted back in, by people who remain ignorant to what is really going on behind the scenes. Sometimes voting for someone you 'think' is tough on crime is a good idea, until it happens to you or yours.