31 March 2006

Possible inconsistences and accusations surfacing in Duke lacrosse team investigation

Okay, so now authorities from the North Carolina State Department of Investigation (SBI) say DNA tests from 46 male Duke University lacrosse team members will be available next week. The team, who has had their season suspended by Duke University officials pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, has still been practicing despite heavy protests and media coverage. The investigation centers on an exotic dancer's allegations that she was raped, beaten and sodomized at the hands of 3 team members after performing at a private party in an off-campus home rented by two of the team's co-captains. The team members (46 of them, all but 1 on the team...that 1 is black and was not tested because the alleged victim claims her attackers were white) all have submitted to DNA testing already and it is those results that are anxiously awaited here.

"The Herald-Sun" , the local paper from Durham, seems to be working overtime to pin the pieces of this skeleton together, even before the DNA results are known. All of the local news agencies...radio, TV, newspaper, college media sources...have been competing with national media sources, too, as the story and allegations have been on most major news and sports web sites, in major newspapers, and even gotten brief mentions on national television news broadcasts. The pressure is on, from the hallowed halls of Duke University's administration down to the investigative officers at the Durham Police Department (who I would not change jobs with in the world right now, for any amount of money). In protest, locally there have been walks, demonstrations, public outcry for immediate and swift justice against these alleged attackers. The players, who had been keeping quiet, have come back swinging a bit...and have the attorneys to speak up for them now. This is shaping up to be quite the investigation and possible prosecution.

There are many troubling aspects to the case evidence-wise, DNA evidence not withstanding, and most center on a couple of rather confusing 911 calls. It is these calls, one of which claimed that the Duke players were yelling racial epithets at two black women walking in the area near the time of the alleged attack, that the Herald-Sun writers have been investigating thoroughly. The caller supposedly stated three different things about her location and what she was doing, while reporting the racial epithets. The other and later 911 call, which initially was treated like an intoxicated person call, came from the alleged victim at an all-night supermarket almost 3 miles away, in the opposite direction from the site of the incident and also almost 2 miles past the Durham Police Department. Depending on how the victim was driven to the supermarket on Hillsborough Road, she may have went by within 2 blocks of the Police Station in downtown Durham. Why she and her driver would go 2 miles in the opposite direction and away from the Police Department and then call is getting some very close scrutiny. As the article today states, some questions have also started to come out about the timing: police logs now reveal that they were at the party's location only 16 minutes before the second 911 call came in reporting the assault from the alleged victim. Supposedly they were there at the same time the attack was either going on inside or had just concluded...but the police found nothing suspicious after investigating the house and its environs for more than 10 minutes and left the scene.

Timelines at alleged rape site questioned .

I will post more updates as information comes in. Will be interesting to see how the District Attorney handles this if any of the DNA test results are returned even remotely inconclusive.

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