Tag Archives: sexual assault

Here Comes the Anti-Bullying Bureaucracy

The overwrought anti-bullying crusade has come in for heavy and very specific criticism from Hans Bader, the lawyer and writer who played a key role in keeping out a dangerous provision of a proposed federal law on how colleges must deal with campus sexual assault.

Though Washington officials call bullying a “pandemic,” in reality, Bader writes, incidents have been declining. Like the badly overstated AAUW report on sexual harassment discussed here last week, the unwelcome good news is…

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Paterno: Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards

Why did the Board of Trustees of Penn State University put a humiliating end to the unblemished career of 84-year-old football coach, Joe Paterno?  In announcing the Board’s decision to fire him on the evening of November 9, the Vice-Chairman of the Board, John Surma Jr., spoke vaguely about the need to “make a change in the leadership.”

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The Penn State Trustees React to the Stench

The Board of Trustees acted properly in cleaning house at Penn State, by firing president Graham Spanier and longtime football coach Joe Paterno. The inaction of the duo, along with similar conduct from now-suspended Athletic Director Tim Curley and now-retired VP Gary Schultz has exposed the university to potentially massive legal liability, as well as prompting an extraordinary public relations backlash.

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‘SlutWalks’ Take Over from ‘Take Back the Night’

Let the wars over “rape culture” begin! Since the 1970s the annual “Take Back the Night” anti-rape march, organized by campus feminists and featuring phalanxes of females carrying signs saying things like “Claim Our Bodies, Claim Ourselves,” was as solid a college tradition as Homecoming Week, even though  the ranks of protesters have lately gotten a bit thin (a “Night” rally at Dartmouth last May attracted only 70 students). But now there’s a challenger to Take Back the Night’s decades-long monopoly on indignation at a male-controlled society that supposedly condones the sexual abuse of women: “SlutWalk.” SlutWalk is very much like Take Back the Night–except that the SlutWalk marchers wear hardly any clothes.

Only six months old, SlutWalk seems to be already outstripping (as it were) Take Back the Night in popularity; a SlutWalk protest in New York City on October 1st drew about a thousand marchers flaunting midriffs, lacy brassieres, and strategically placed tattoos. So there’s now some tension between the two groups. The Take Back the Night people accuse the SlutWalkers of turning a demonstration against sexual violence into a demonstration for the right to walk around in public in your underwear, while the SlutWalk people see the Take Back the Night crowd as fuddy-duddies.

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A Great Article on a Disastrous Act of Federal Meddling

Sandy Hingston has captured, in an article of extraordinary importance, the fruits of political correctness in the Dept of Education (the insistence that colleges make it almost impossible for men to be found innocent of charges of sexual misbehavior), the infantilization of women; the grotesque joining of careerism, cynicism, and ideological blinders to actual justice in what is now the sexual assault racket; the painful vulnerability of every male on our campuses; the contempt for due process and fairness in emerging campus judicial systems; and the certain human tragedies that will follow in the wake of this.

We have criminal courts, of course, but they sometimes actually find innocent males innocent, so that will not do. And there, on the Main Line, sits the huckster Brett Sokolow, getting rich by trivializing actual rape and conflating it with voluntary sex or even touching on a few drinks, often initiated by the women themselves. I once asked the long-ago Vice-Provost for University Life at Penn, Jim Bishop, when this stuff—now mandated by the federal government—was first coming in at the University.

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Stanford: Guilty Even If Innocent

At Stanford, according to the “alternative misconduct review process” guidelines offered on the university’s website, a student accused of sexual misconduct doesn’t have the right to cross-examine his accuser–or any other witnesses in his case. He cannot offer exculpatory evidence on his behalf, but can only “request” that the university’s assigned “Investigator contact individuals who are witnesses to an event.” (Even then, the Investigator “is not obligated to meet with every individual proffered by the responding student.”) If acquitted by the campus judicial process, his accuser can appeal the acquittal. Even if the acquittal is upheld on appeal, he can still face what Stanford euphemistically terms “non-disciplinary actions,” including “removal from a position of trust or removing a student from housing.”

And, as a result of the recent OCR Title IX missive, he’s lost what was virtually his only due-process protection–that a conviction will result only from “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, he now will face expulsion if found guilty according to a “preponderance of the evidence” (50.1 percent) standard.

What right does the accused student possess? “To be offered reasonable protection from . . . malicious prosecution.” Thanks to FIRE, we now know that even this meager right is meaningless.

FIRE has obtained some of the material that the university uses to train the student jurors (dubbed “reviewers”) who decide the fate of accused students at Stanford. The FIRE website provides excerpts from one such item, Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. The Library Journal review notes that the book’s author, Lundy Bancroft, has wildly claimed that at least one out of three American women will be a victim of violence by a husband or boyfriend at some point in her life.”

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Bothersome News from Overseas

Two noteworthy overseas higher-ed items recently crossed my desk. The first came from Britain, where the coalition government has decided to rework the nation’s science instructional standards. Among the proposed changes: eliminating the requirement that science classes “challenge injustice.” Education Secretary Michael Gove argued that such “irrelevant material” contributes “nothing to helping students deepen their stock of knowledge.”

While it’s not clear why science students should need to learn about challenging injustice, Gove’s move nonetheless attracted criticism on the grounds that it would diminish quality by making science instruction less topically relevant. The chief executive of the Association for Science Education, which describes itself as a “dynamic community of teachers, technicians, and other professionals supporting science education and is the largest subject association in the UK,” said that she “wouldn’t want to lose from the national curriculum . . . the idea that science is developing all the time and that it impinges on our lives.”

If this debate sounds familiar, it should–the inclusion of ideologically charged but pedagogically irrelevant requirements was at the heart of the “dispositions” controversy, when NCATE, a national accrediting organization, proposed requiring that all education programs individually assess whether prospective public schoolteachers had a disposition to “promote social justice.”

Meanwhile, from Australia comes news of a survey claiming that one in six female university students had been raped while in school. The finding is reported without any skepticism, even though buried within the article is the following sentence: “Rarely were the assaults investigated, with only two percent of women taking the matter to police, mostly because they thought it was not serious enough to report.” [emphasis added] Why an average reader should assume that something “not serious enough to report” constituted rape the article doesn’t explore.

It’s not surprising that victims’ rights groups–or most college and university humanities departments–accept such surveys as gospel. Yet for the media–or, much worse, a U.S. administration–to do so is appalling. Assume, for the sake of argument, that an equal number of these alleged sexual assaults occur each year. So, if one in five women is raped in college (which, as Cathy Young pointed out in her recent MTC column, was a claim in the recent OCR letter), that would mean 5 percent of the nation’s college women are raped annually, or around 2.5 percent of all college students are victims of this violent crime each year.

Compare that number to the percentage of citizens subjected to all violent crimes (not just sexual assault) in three of the highest-crime cities in the country, St. Louis (.21 percent), Memphis (.18 percent), and Detroit (.20 percent). The figures cited come from 2009.

Does anyone really believe that the typical college campus–whether in the United States or in Australia–has many times more violent crimes annually than does Detroit or St. Louis? Yet surveys such as the Australian one, or the offering in the OCR letter, are frequently reported by the media without even a hint of skepticism. But if the surveys are true, then clearly we need massive increases in the police presence on college campuses. Somehow, I doubt that the typical humanities department would welcome that result.

The Star Chamber Comes to a Campus Near You

As Harvey Silverglate and Kyle Smeallie pointed out in Minding The Campus, the recent letter from the Obama Administration’s Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights outlines a policy shift that represents perhaps the gravest threat to civil liberties on campus in a generation.

The letter’s provisions would be gravely damaging even in its narrowest possible scope, by confining its tenets to how campuses respond to allegations of sexual assault. In the Chronicle, Christina Hoff Sommers notes that the OCR’s demand that universities use a “preponderance of evidence” standard in adjudicating all campus allegations of sexual assault “advocates procedures that are unjust to men.”

Campus disciplinary procedures already are heavily tilted in favor of the accuser and against the due process rights of the accused; the OCR’s new policy of requiring campuses to independently investigate all allegations of sexual assault (rather than, as should be done, have such matters handled by the criminal justice system) threatens to turn college campuses into Star Chambers.

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The Coming War on Fraternities

Delta Kappa Epsilon–the “Dekes”–whose pledges’ allegedly sexist chant during a hazing ritual at Yale last October so offended campus feminists that the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office is now conducting a full-blown investigation of Yale for sexual harassment under Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act.

They were marched blindfolded through the Old Campus–“No means yes, and yes means anal!” One of the other allegations in the 30-page complaint that triggered the investigation filed by 16 Yale alumni (12 of them women): a “Preseason Scouting Report” e-mail that some Yalies had circulated rating 53 incoming freshman women according to how many beers it would take to have sex with them. The complaint charged that Yale, by failing to respond sufficiently to such outrages, and by failing to respond sufficiently to a 2007 petition by 150 students in Yale’s medical school accusing professors and fellow students of groping, intimidating, verbally abusing them, and raping them failed to “eliminate a hostile sexual environment.” Should Yale be found in violation of Title IX, which forbids sex discrimination by educational institutions, it stands to lose some $500 million annually in federal funds.
 
The whole idea of Yale, these days one of the most politically correct institutions of higher learning in America, maintaining a “hostile sexual environment” seems in itself ludicrous. Indeed, although as of Monday Yale administrators said they had not read the alumni complaint, Yale Dean Mary Miller promptly issued a statement and said, “Yale has a deep commitment to gender equity.” Yet there are two very serious and disturbing issues that the Education Department raises. The first is a free-speech issue. Whether or not the Deke pledges’ chant was funny or, boorish and in poor taste it is not surprising that Yale, whose 1975 Woodward Report codifies broad guarantees of freedom of expression on campus, chose not to discipline the fraternity or any of its members merely for saying things that offended other students. Should the Education Department deem Yale’s failure to punish the pledge chants or the “Preseason Scouting” e-mails a violation of civil rights laws, it will effectively impose a draconian federal speech code upon not only Yale, but all college campuses. Students will have to watch what they say and fear what they write lest some protected group seek severe disciplinary reprisals.

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Sexual Assault on Campus–Is It Exaggerated?

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Earlier this month, shortly after the announcement of a sexual harassment investigation targeting Yale University, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” to colleges on the handling of sexual violence cases.  On the same day, April 4, Vice President Joe Biden kicked off a nationwide “awareness campaign” on schools’ obligations toward victims in a speech at the University of New Hampshire.  But will this campaign truly help victims of sexual assault – or is it likely to trample on the civil rights of students accused of such offenses, and promote more panic and paranoia on campuses?

Some of the recommendations in the OCR letter are innocuous enough, such as providing a grievance procedure for students to file complaints of sexual violence and an equal opportunity for both sides in such cases to present witnesses.  Others, however, are more troubling; indeed, former Education Department attorney Hans Bader concludes that the document “undermines due process and accuracy” in the quest for more convictions.  While these are convictions under campus disciplinary proceedings, not in criminal court, they are still likely to have grave consequences: not only expulsion from school, but the stigma of having committed a felonious act even if it is not prosecuted under criminal law.
 
Perhaps the most problematic of the OCR’s recommendations is that sexual assault complaints should be adjudicated under the standard of “preponderance of the evidence,” rather than the “clear and convincing evidence” standard currently used by many universities.  (In response, Stanford and Yale are already amending their procedural rules.)  As Bader puts it, “‘Preponderance of the evidence’ means that if a school thinks there is as little as a 51 percent chance that the accused is guilty, the accused must still be disciplined.”  In his view, this requirement is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of federal law: In Title IX sex discrimination cases, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard is meant to apply to an institution accused of violating the plaintiff’s rights, not to another individual accused of an offense.

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A Brown Cover-Up

Duke—which is defending a civil suit filed by most of the unindicted lacrosse players and their families—isn’t the only university being sued, in part, for bowing to politically correct winds on campus. Brown, a prominent donor, and the donor’s daughter are facing a civil suit, for allegedly conspiring to drive out of school a former Brown student after the donor’s daughter accused him of sexual assault.
The basic facts of the case: In 2006, William McCormick was a Brown freshman and member of the university’s wrestling team. Very early in the academic year, he seemingly had a series of unpleasant encounters with another first-year student, Marcela Dresdale, who lived in his dorm. Dresdale complained to her dorm RA about McCormick’s untoward advances, and the RA reached out to the Brown administration. Then, six days later, Dresdale for the first time asserted that a week before, and after several discussions with the RA in which she had made no such claim, McCormick had raped her.
Sexual assault policies of most universities are wildly tilted in favor the accuser. But Marcela Dresdale had another advantage—her father, Richard Dresdale, is a Brown alumnus of some influence, as well as a major Democratic donor. (Full disclosure: I have donated to two candidates on Dresdale’s list—Obama and Tom Allen, a 2008 Senate nominee in my home state of Maine—though my donations didn’t quite reach Dresdale’s six-figure level.) Internal Brown documents obtained by the AP indicated that Richard Dresdale was in contact with Brown administrators, and McCormick was immediately suspended and sent back to his home in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the person who served as McCormick’s de facto advocate, an assistant wrestling coach, wasn’t allowed to see any evidence of the alleged crime. The three sides eventually worked out an agreement: McCormick would withdraw from Brown and not return to Providence until the accuser graduated; Dresdale wouldn’t file criminal charges; and Brown would terminate its investigation—an inquiry in which McCormick’s advocate wasn’t allowed to see what evidence, if any, Brown actually possessed.

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Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke

What if all college professors were forced to be higher-education entrepreneurs, with salaries pegged to the number of students they attract to their classes? That’s the model recently proposed by a Texas professor who styled himself “Publius Audax” on a Pajamas Media blog. Publius launched his proposal, he wrote, as the solution to a projected $25 billion budget shortfall over the next two years that is likely to hit the Texas higher education hard. Publius’ argument is that his “entrepreneurial professor model,” when coupled with other reforms would “harness the power and efficiency of the market” to make public higher education cheaper and better. The other reforms include abolishing tenure, eliminating state subsidies to public campuses, getting rid of “core curricula” (which nowadays are nothing more than pointless distribution requirements, and allowing private “charter colleges” (both nonprofit and for-profit) onto public campuses in order to provide more competition.

Hmm, my own undergraduate alma mater was founded by a highly successful entrepreneur, the railroad baron Leland Stanford. What if college professors were more like Leland Stanford and less like the brilliant but economically illiterate head-in-the-clouds types who taught at Stanford when I went there?

Here is how Publius’ entrepreneurial professor model would work: All professors and lecturers would receive a base “living wage” of $30,000 plus benefits. Beyond that it would be up to the professors themselves to generate a “tuition-based bonus” for themselves consisting of 50 percent of the tuition income generated by students enrolled in their classes, “up to a maximum of 320 students (960 student hours).” All instructors would be allowed to teach up to eight classes a year. In order to gin up the price competition further, professors, department heads, and even entire colleges could offer tuition rebates to students, the money to come out of the professors’ salary bonuses. Professors with ultra-large classes could hire teaching assistants—but the money would again have to come out of their salary bonuses. And to ensure that professors wouldn’t game the system by handing out easy A’s to all comers, there would be a strict grading curve. No more than 15 percent of students in any given class could receive an A-grade, and another 15 percent would have to either flunk or receive a D. Professors whose grades deviated from the curve would lose their bonus for every student whose grade exceeded the curve. This would not only keep the professors in line, Publius argues, but would “transform the campus culture, replacing partying with studying” as students scrambled to stay out of the bottom of the class.

Continue reading Honoring One of the Perpetrators at Duke

Whatever Happened to the Group of 88?

A few years ago, Cornell University spokesperson Thomas W. Bruce rejoiced that the Ivy League school had brought to Ithaca a man whose “distinguished background in contemporary global cultural studies,” and whose “unique perspectives and talents” would “add to the range of reasoned intellectual discourse at Cornell.”
The professor about whom Bruce gushed was Grant Farred, whose latest contribution to “intellectual discourse at Cornell” came when he labeled two graduate students “black bitches.” One of the most extreme members of the Group of 88 (the Duke faculty members who issued a guilt-presuming public statement two weeks into the lacrosse case), Farred had denounced as “racist” those Duke students who registered to vote in Durham; and had wildly charged that unnamed lacrosse players had committed perjury. Duke’s settlement with the three falsely accused players shielded him from civil liability for the latter remarks. Cornell knew this record of contempt for the students he taught when it not only awarded Farred a tenured position, but promoted him to full professor, with a median salary of $154,300.
Farred’s experience typifies the Group of 88’s rebounding from their rush to judgment in the lacrosse case. Indeed, at least three Group members moved on from Duke to endowed chairs at other institutions. Charles Payne, who violated Duke rules by authorizing departmental funds to pay for the Group of 88’s ad, is now Frank Hixon Professor at the University of Chicago. He has moved on from presuming the guilt of his own school’s students to receiving fellowships to fund his work on urban schools. Payne’s most recent book, Teach Freedom: Education for Liberation in the African-American Tradition, is an edited volume published by Columbia Teachers’ College Press; it features contributions from self-described “educator-activists” on how principles of African-American “liberation” education remain relevant today.
Rom Coles, who denounced an early 2007 from Duke economics professors that affirmed that the economics professors would welcome all Duke students, even student-athletes, into their classes, is now McAllister Chair in Community, Culture & Environment at Northern Arizona University. He’s involved himself in a host of pedagogically predictable causes, ranging from learning communities to “sustainability” initiatives.

Continue reading Whatever Happened to the Group of 88?

A Nightmare Proposal

Sunday’s Washington Post featured a lengthy op-ed by Jaclyn Friedman, a self-described “writer, performer and activist” who is “a dynamic and powerful performer who performs and agitates with Big Moves, a national size-diverse performance troupe.” The column advanced a startling thesis: that “University campuses could easily become labs that innovate effective ways to prevent and prosecute [emphasis added] rape.”
Campus judicial proceedings almost always deny to students accused of sexual assault what most people would consider basic procedural protections: legal representation; access to a university equivalent of open-file discovery; or the opportunity to confront his or her accuser. And that’s just at a typical university. Consider more extreme versions: Duke opened the 2009-2010 academic year by revising its internal procedures to give all sexual misconduct accusers rights denied to the accused student. Each of these special rights tilts the process in the accuser’s favor: to be treated with “sensitivity,” to make opening and closing statements before a hearing panel, and to receive all written information, other than material protected by FERPA, regarding their case.
Given this procedural background, only someone eager to create a system transparently tilted toward convictions would envision universities as laboratories to “prosecute rape.” It seems, alas, that Friedman falls into this category. She claims that, as a Wesleyan undergraduate, she was sexually assaulted, but that she “never considered going to the police,” since no evidence existed to back up her charge. So instead she filed charges “through the on-campus judicial system,” after which, she writes, her alleged assailant “agreed to plead no contest” and was suspended from school for a year. This outcome proved insufficient when her alleged assailant’s suspension was reduced to one semester; Friedman informed Post readers that her final months on campus were “a haze of fear, hiding and post-traumatic stress.”

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Is the Campus 45 Times as Dangerous as Detroit?

It’s back: the “campus rape crisis.” The latest all-hands-on-deck alarm comes from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit foundation based in Washington and specializing in what it describes as “investigative journalism about issues of public interest,” which teamed up with the investigative unit of National Public Radio (NPR) to issue a report in late February pointing out—yet again–that “roughly one in five women who attend college” can expect to be a victim of rape or attempted rape by the time she graduates.
This extraordinarily high number, which translates into about 240,000 out of the 6 million or so women enrolled in four-year colleges during any given year, has been knocking around since 1987 (as Heather Mac Donald pointed out in a 2008 article for City Journal), when a University of Arizona Health professor, Mary Koss, first published a version of the statistic that was picked up in a Department of Justice study filed during the waning months of the Clinton administration. In other words, as KC Johnson pointed out in a post for Minding the Campus this past December, the average college campus is supposedly 45 times as dangerous for women as the city of Detroit, the highest-crime city in America, where the rape rate is only .06 percent.
Another problem with the CPI-NPR numbers: No police department or local prosecutor’s office has reported a two-decade-long epidemic of rapes or attempted rapes on nearby college campuses. The rape-crisis people’s explanation for this is simple: The vast majority of rapes and attempted rapes at colleges are never reported even to campus authorities, much less law enforcement—because the victims themselves are unaware that what happened to them was rape. The Justice Department’s 2000 report maintained that 65 percent of college women who suffered sexual assault remain silent, a figure that the CPI inflated to “more than 95 percent” in its report. The CPI—and NPR—attributed the low reporting rates to the “failure” (as NPR writer Joseph Shapiro wrote) of schools and the U.S. Education Department to take significant steps to prevent, ferret out, or punish campus rape.

Continue reading Is the Campus 45 Times as Dangerous as Detroit?

College Rape Stats—Cutting-Edge Modern Fiction

The Center for Public Integrity has launched a major new investigative series on the dangers of unpunished sexual assault on the nation’s college and university campuses. The basic thesis of the series: “One national study funded by the Justice Department found that one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates. But students reporting sexual assault routinely say they face a host of institutional barriers in pursuing the on-campus remedies meant to keep colleges and universities safe, according to a nine-month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity. The result, say experts, is a widespread feeling that justice isn’t being served, and may not even be worth pursuing.”
This isn’t investigative reporting: it’s advocacy journalism at its most blatant. The series uncritically accepts the finding of the (unnamed) “national study funded by the Justice Department” (of which the CPI website does not provide a copy) claiming that one in five women are victims of a violent crime (either rape or attempted rape) during their four years on campus.
To provide some perspective on the dubious nature of this figure: as of 2005, 57% of all college students were women. If 20% of them are victims of violent crime by the time they graduate, that means over a four-year period, around 11.5 percent of all students on the typical college campus will be victims of rape or attempted rape. On an annual basis, the figure would be around 2.7% of students.

Continue reading College Rape Stats—Cutting-Edge Modern Fiction

Foolishness At Hofstra

As president of a university that experienced a high-profile false rape claim, Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz would have a long way to go to match the poor performance of Duke president Richard Brodhead.
That said, Rabinowitz certainly would win no awards for profiles in courage. In response to the filing of false sexual assault charges by one of his institution’s students, Danmell Ndonye, Rabinowitz announced that Hofstra administrators “will redouble our educational efforts and try to increase awareness among students, faculty, and staff of any potential signs of danger or dangerous behavior, and the need to pass that information on to Public Safety so that it can be adequately and appropriately addressed.”
And these were not merely words. Rabinowitz appointed a presidential task force “to undertake a review of all aspects of security, including operations, communications, programs, policies and procedures to insure that we are taking every possible precaution to maintain a secure and safe campus. In addition, we will once again be seeking to utilize the services of an outside consultant to conduct a security audit and make recommendations as to best practices and possible enhancements to our program.”
If, as Ndonye claimed, she had been lured into a campus bathroom by several men, tied up, and then raped, Rabinowitz’s proposal would make perfect sense. The failure of Hofstra’s campus security to have protected Ndonye would be a major scandal for the university. Indeed, the Hofstra rape would be another Kitty Genovese affair, with the focus in this instance on the callousness of the myriad Hofstra students in the dorm who remained indifferent to Ndonye’s screams of horror.

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Was Nan Keohane Worse Than Brodhead?

In October 2006, 60 Minutes offered a searing examination of the Duke lacrosse case. Reported by the late Ed Bradley, the broadcast exposed then-Durham D.A. Mike Nifong for what he was: an unethical prosecutor advancing a non-existent case to secure the votes of African-Americans he needed to win an upcoming Democratic primary. The broadcast also represented a public relations low point for the Duke administration. Speaking to Bradley, Duke president Richard Brodhead declined to condemn Nifong’s behavior. Nor did he question the dubious and in some cases unprofessional conduct by his own university’s “activist” faculty members.
Brodhead, instead, targeted the victims of the prosecutor’s and his faculty’s misconduct: his own students. With a pronounced smirk, he defended Duke’s actions by accusing the lacrosse players of having engaged in “highly unacceptable behavior.”
More than two years after Brodhead’s ill-fated introduction to the national media, Duke has made a reported eight-figure settlement with the three falsely accused lacrosse players. The university also settled lawsuits with former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler and the family of a lacrosse player who suffered grade retaliation from an anti-lacrosse Duke professor. Duke still faces a civil rights lawsuit filed by the unindicted lacrosse players, and the university recently learned that its insurance carrier is refusing to cover any defense or settlement costs arising from the lacrosse case.

Continue reading Was Nan Keohane Worse Than Brodhead?

A “Wildly Misleading” Self-Defense

Selena Roberts, a former New York Times sports columnist, now with Sports Illustrated , is still trying to justify her garbled coverage of the Duke lacrosse case. A Roberts column of March 31, 2006, devoted to pre-judging the lacrosse players, said they had been forced to provide DNA (untrue, they provided DNA and hair samples voluntarily), reported that “According to reported court documents, the accuser in the case has been raped robbed, strangled and made the victim of a hate crime” (there were no such “reported court documents” – Roberts was mistakenly referring to search warrants) and said the victim “was also reportedly treated at a hospital for vaginal and anal injuries consistent with sexual assault and rape” (the hospital records said nothing about “trauma in the victim’s vaginal area” and contained no evidence of rape). Roberts was so certain that the boys were guilty that she complained about the code of silence under which players protected one another (there was no code of silence – the accused talked freely and honestly about what really happened – no attack, no rape). She even suggested that the players were subhuman (“a group of privileged players of fine pedigree entangled in a night that threatens to belie their status as human beings. Whatever the root, there is a common thread: a desire for teammates to exploit the vulnerable without heeding a conscience.”)

In a recent interview on the sports site, The Big Lead, Roberts offered this cleaned-up version of what she wrote in 2006:

“Basically, I wrote that a crime didn’t have to occur for us to inspect the irrefutable evidence of misogyny and race baiting that went on that night. Not a popular stand. I received lots of hate mail, some of it threatening. I think the intense response came from Duke-player supporters who felt threatened when someone, whether it was me or another columnist, started poking at the culture of affluence and entitlement. We’re always dissecting the African-American and Hispanic communities – is it gangs? is it the rap lyrics? – when trouble strikes minority athletes. Obviously, some segments of the Duke lacrosse crowd did not enjoy the scrutiny of their world.”

These remarks are “wildly misleading,” according to K C Johnson, the Brooklyn college professor whose site, Durham-in-Wonderland provided daily accounts, detailed and accurate, for the length of the Duke lacrosse case. The problem wasn’t that “the Duke lacrosse crowd did not enjoy the scrutiny of their world.” It was that the scrutiny by Roberts got almost everything wrong. Johnson, co-author with Stuart Taylor, Jr., of the definitive book on the Duke case, Until Proven Innocent, wrote that “for anyone who followed the lacrosse case closely (Roberts) sacrificed her journalistic credibility in an attempt to advance a preconceived ideological agenda.”

Bad News – Brodhead Keeps His Job

The Alice-in-Wonderland view of Duke University received yet another boost: a committee of the board of trustees has affirmed President Richard Brodhead’s “compelling vision” for Duke and found “general support, overwhelming support, for the leadership that the president is providing.”

The obvious question here is “What leadership?” Brodhead’s performance during the Duke non-rape crisis was surely a disgrace large enough to get him fired immediately on any moderately alert campus.

Let’s review Brodhead’s dismal handling of the case. He fired the lacrosse coach without any hearing or finding that the coach had done anything wrong. He took no action and made no relevant statement when some of the hard-left professors harassed lacrosse players in class, and when one professor punitively reduced the marks of one player. (Imagine how he would have sprung into action if a gay person or a woman had been treated this way.) He refused to look at the overwhelming evidence, offered to him by defense counsel, that the boys were innocent. He made no comment when the racist black professor Houston Baker bitterly and falsely denounced the three white players. He said nothing and did nothing when death threats were made against the three. Instead of offering protection, he and his administration appointed a committee to examine “persistent problems involving the men’s lacrosse team, including racist language and a pattern of alcohol abuse and disorderly behavior,” a statement clearly implying that the players were racists while an out-of-control prosecutor was issuing the same untruths to voters and jurors.

Still Brodhead knows how the game is played and he surely judged his strategy by what happened to President Lawrence Summers at Harvard. Summers told many unwelcome truths and leftist professors forced him out. Brodhead told some welcome untruths and therefore kept his job. Brodhead ‘s performance was “a moral meltdown” of a cowardly man, in the words of Stuart Taylor Jr. and K C Johnson in their book, Until Proven Innocent. But given the moral climate of the modern university, cowardice was probably his safest course.

Duke Lacrosse Story To The Big (Small) Screen

Variety reports that HBO has acquired the rights to Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson’s Until Proven Innocent. After our featuring the authors here in New York, we’re surprised it took this long for a screen deal. Our prodigious influence aside, the Duke case fully merits a fuller media treatment, and there’s no better account to use than Until Proven Innocent.

I’m curious as to what exactly HBO is going to do with the story. The story notes that they “will develop a movie exploring the dynamics of racism and class issues that made the case a national story.” There’s obvious cracking legal/political thriller material here, but the “dynamics of racism and class issues” here run so thoroughly contrary to the usual television themes, it’s a wonder how HBO will possibly handle it. Will they put the group of 88 in?

The 32 Worst

K C Johnson, on his web site Durham-in-Wonderland, has written about 850,000 words over the past 18 months on the Duke lacrosse scandal. It has been an astonishing, brilliant effort -graceful, accurate, penetrating and fair. Because of the terrible performance of the mainstream press, Johnson’s blogging quickly became the gold standard of reporting on the case. As one blogger said last January, nobody would think of writing about the subject without checking with KC first. If bloggers were eligible for the Pulitzer Prize, Johnson would have won hands down. (Asterisk here: of course those voting for the Pulitzers represent the papers that failed so miserably in covering the non-rape case.)

Every now and then, Johnson supplies a list of worst performances, such as the ten worst columns or the ten worst editorials on the case. Now he has produced, over three days, his list of the 32 worst statements made by anyone.

Wendy Murphy, an adjunct law professor and an unsually appalling talking head for MSNBC, surprised many of us by making the list only twice, getting as high an Number 11 for saying “I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” (Several winners assumed guilt and speculated on why the accused were such monsters.) Another surprise is that New York Times writers achieved only two listings – one by sports columnist Selena Roberts, the other by the worst of all reporters to cover the case, sportswriter Duff Wilson.

Rabid professor Grant Farred (Number 5) argued that white Duke students who registered to vote in Durham were engaged in “secret racism,” because the X made by voters on the ballot is “the sign of the white male franchise, itself overridden with the mark of privilege, oppression, slavery, racism, utter contempt for black and native bodies.”

Michael Nifong accounted for 8 of the 32 listings., including Number 1: “If I were one of those (defense) attorneys, I wouldn’t really want to try a case against me either.” Johnson may have been unfair to include Nifong in the competition. Expecting amateur quotemongers to compete with a pro like Nifong is like telling a Little Leaguer to go strike out Babe Ruth.

Number 2 was the always-wrong Duke president Richard Brodhead, who said a month after the story broke: “If (Finnerty and Seligmann) did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.” Johnson comments: “We know now that ‘whatever’ Finnerty and Seligmann did: they attended a party they had no role in organizing and they drank some beer.”

Johnson is, of course, co-author of the brilliant new book on the case, Until Proven Innocent co-written with Stuart Taylor, Jr., one of the best columnists and legal writers in the country. To order the book, go to Amazon and be patient – the publisher has been slow in supplying more copies.

MTC’s Website Launch Party

Minding The Campus celebrated its public launch yesterday evening here in New York with a cocktail reception featuring Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson. John Leo introduced our project, followed by KC and Stuart’s lively remarks about their excellent new book Until Proven Innocent. Each detailed the lunacy of the Duke case – the professors’ lockstep assumption of guilt, the Group of 88’s repulsive antics, the administration’s easy acquiescence, and the general disregard for due process displayed.
To leave you with something you didn’t know – in conversation afterwards, KC made the interesting point that only two senators made public statements calling for due process in the case – Robert Menendez (Reade Seligman, one of the accused, was a constituent) and Barack Obama.

Things You Might Not Know About The Duke Case

Things you might not know about the Duke non-rape case if you haven’t read the new book “Until Proven Innocent” by Stuart Taylor, Jr, and KC Johnson:

* Collin Finnerty did not beat up a gay man in a homophobic rage outside a Georgetown bar in 2005, as much of the news media reported. Finnerty was one of several males involved in a beery confrontation. He pushed one of his antagonists but he did not hit anyone, gay or straight.

* Duke administrators were outraged that the lacrosse team had held a stripper party, but no such outrage greeted the more than 20 such parties held at Duke during the 2005-2006 academic year. Duke’s famous basketball team held one two weeks before, drawing no apparent criticism.

* Tara Levicy, the nurse who reported on the condition of Crystal Mangum after the alleged rape, shrugged off the absence of physical evidence of assault and the lack of lacrosse-player DNA with a feminist slogan: “Rape is about power, not passion.”

* Michael Nifong, whose parents had gone to Duke, was known for his hatred of Duke University and its students. According to Patsy McDonald, a law school classmate, he also had a “deep-seated antipathy to lacrosse players.”

* Sergeant Mark Gottlieb, who took over the case for the Durham police “hated Dukies and had an ugly history of abusing them, according to allegations by Duke students who dealt with him before the lacrosse case surfaced.” Gottlieb had jailed three times as many Duke students as the three other police supervisors in the area combined. In one case he jailed a female Duke student and a female friend and put them in a cell with a blood-covered, drug-addled woman who said she had stabbed someone. The charge against the two women was that they had failed to prevent a 19-year-old from taking a can of beer from a cooler during a party at their home.
* The news media churned out negative opinions of lacrosse players at Duke and other elite schools (Newsweek: “strutting lacrosse players are a distinctive and familiar breed on elite campuses… the players tend to be at once macho and entitled (and) sometimes behave like thugs.”) In fact, the authors write, the Duke players had no record of racism, sexism, violence or bullying. They studied hard, got good grades, and showed respect and consideration for minorities, women and workers who served the team. They also had a good record of community service, especially with a reading program that targeted black and Hispanic children.

* The notably fair and accurate journalists who covered the case (a short list) included Dan Abrams of MSNBC, Chris Cuomo of Good Morning America, Kurt Anderson of New York Magazine, Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes and the first New York Times reporter, Joe Drape, who was taken off the story shortly after concluding that the alleged rape looked like a hoax.

Duke Lacrosse And The Professions of Diversity

[Robert “K.C.” Johnson is the indefatigable chronicler of the Duke non-rape case, turning out a thousand words of brilliant reportage and analysis a day for more than a year on his Durham-in-Wonderland site. On the Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren writes” “If bloggers were eligible for Pulitizer Prize… I would nominate Brooklyn Professor K.C. Johnson… No self-respecting journalist would think of writing anything long and evaluative on the Duke case without first checking “the blog of record,” Durham-in-Wonderland.”]

On April 6, 2006, 88 members of Duke’s arts and sciences faculty endorsed a full-page ad published in the campus newspaper, the Chronicle. The professors suggested that men’s lacrosse players had triggered a “social disaster” by holding a spring-break party. The faculty members unequivocally asserted that something “happened to this young woman,” accuser Crystal Mangum. And, in the aftermath of anti-lacrosse rallies featuring banners reading “Castrate” and “Time to Confess,” the Group of 88 said “thank you” to the protesters “for not waiting and for making yourselves heard.”

Continue reading Duke Lacrosse And The Professions of Diversity