15 Years Ago Duke Hate-Crime Hoax Was Peddled by Media and Racial-Justice ‘Reformers’

Today [article originally published on March 28, 2021] is the 15th anniversary of Duke University’s suspension of its Lacrosse team in response to false allegations that members of the team committed a racist gang-rape of a black stripper. The gang rape turned out to be a hoax. But long after DNA evidence and cell phone records showed it was a hoax, the district attorney persisted in prosecuting team members. Progressive journalists and many self-styled “criminal justice reformers” defended the prosecutor, including the executive director of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

As History.com notes, on this day in 2006,

Duke University officials suspend the men’s lacrosse team for two games following allegations that team members sexually assaulted a stripper hired to perform at a party. Three players were later charged with rape. The case became a national scandal, impacted by issues of race, politics and class. In April 2007, all charges against the young men were dropped due to lack of credible evidence and the district attorney was eventually disbarred for his mishandling of the case.

On March 13, 2006, the Duke lacrosse team held a party at an off-campus house and hired two strippers to perform. The following day, one of the dancers, Crystal Mangum, told police in Durham, North Carolina, that three white lacrosse players forced her into a bathroom and raped her. On March 23, the team’s 46 white members provided police with DNA samples and were photographed. On March 28, Duke suspended the team for two games; soon after, their coach was forced to resign and the school’s president cancelled the rest of the lacrosse season. On April 10, defense attorneys revealed that DNA test results showed no match between the players and the accuser. Nevertheless, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who labeled the players “hooligans,” vowed to continue investigating the case. On April 17, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were charged with rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. On May 12, defense attorneys announced a second round of tests found no evidence of any player’s DNA on the accuser’s body or clothing on the night of the party. On May 15, a third lacrosse player, David Evans, the team captain, was indicted on charges of rape, sexual offense and kidnapping. All three players maintained their innocence and had cell phone records and time-stamped photographs to demonstrate they couldn’t have committed the crimes.

But leading journalists peddled the Duke Lacrosse rape hoax, long after it was disproven by concrete evidence. The defendants in the Duke lacrosse case, charged with an interracial rape, were vindicated by DNA evidence and declared innocent by North Carolina’s state attorney general. But even after the prosecutor was disbarred for misconduct and trying to frame the defendants, left-leaning journalists sought to rehabilitate him. When he faced disbarment, he was defended by self-styled criminal-justice “reformers” and “racial-justice” activists.

Amanda Marcotte, who had written for Slate, the Guardian, and other leading progressive publications, defended the hoax and the baseless prosecution even after ethics charges were brought against the prosecutor. She wrote that “people who defended the wrongly accused Duke students were ‘rape-loving scum.’” She complained about the charges being “thrown out,” sarcastically asking “Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it?” There was never any real evidence of the alleged offense, but the New York Times’ Duff Wilson falsely claimed there was a considerable “body of evidence” against the accused players.

The woman who falsely accused the lacrosse players of rape — Crystal Mangum — later stabbed her boyfriend to death, and was convicted of murder for doing so.

In May 2006, the Durham Herald-Sun published an article by the NAACP’s Julius Chambers and former Princeton President William Bowen. Far from recognizing the falsity of the allegations, which had already been debunked by DNA test results, the article argued that Duke had not taken the allegations seriously enough. It made the pernicious, racially-prejudiced claim that the accuser’s claim should be given special weight because she was black, and the accused were white. The Herald-Sun later published a May 12 letter from me taking issue with that claim, titled, “Leave Race Out of It.” But the paper removed most of my explanation for why the allegations were false. And neither it nor any of the other newspapers that implied that the accused were guilty ever apologized for leaving a misleading impression or jumping to conclusions.

Many “racial justice” activists and criminal-justice “reformers” never acknowledged that the prosecutor did anything wrong in continuing to bring an obviously baseless prosecution. That’s because the false accuser was a black woman, and the men she falsely accused were white and thus benefited from white privilege in the eyes of progressives. When I sent emails to progressive reporters warning them about weaknesses in the prosecution, and citing evidence of the players’ innocence, they either ignored what I said, or told me that I lacked racial sensitivity.

When the prosecutor, Mike Nifong was about to be disbarred for his misconduct and utter dishonesty, the executive director of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, testified in his behalf. Nifong had “an excellent reputation for honesty and truthfulness in the community,” she claimed. It was his “duty” to try such cases, she said. Professor KC Johnson wrote that “the idea that the head of the executive director of the Innocence Commission” was “testifying for Nifong is extraordinary.” But her mindset was all too typical among racial-justice activists and criminal-justice “reformers.”


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Liberty Unyielding on March 28, 2021 and is crossposted here with permission.

Image: Caroline Culler, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader is a senior attorney at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

10 thoughts on “15 Years Ago Duke Hate-Crime Hoax Was Peddled by Media and Racial-Justice ‘Reformers’

  1. There were six statements made by Enough is Enough on April 5, 2021 that I would like to address.
    RESPONSE to Statement 1: implying that Daye’s Spleen was removed during emergency surgery ten days before he died. According to the Operative Report, which is more reliable than Dr. Clay Nichols’ autopsy report, the spleen sustained a minor Grade I laceration which was repaired with electrocautery and Surgi-Cel. There is nothing under procedures in the operative report that states “splenectomy” or suggest that the spleen was surgically removed. Clearly, the operative report supports that Daye’s spleen was repaired rather than removed.
    LINK to the Operative Report is:
    http://www.justice4nifong.com/exhibit/uLhtm25k/htm25k.htm

    RESPONSE to Statement 2: suggesting that the autopsy report was correct and the surgeons may have missed injuries. This premise is false as studies were done in the emergency department prior to surgery that ruled out injury to the chest cavity. The operative report noted no injury to the stomach or the left kidney. Also reports by the EMS and orthopedic consultation showed no injuries to the extremities. The Nichols autopsy report was debunked as inaccurate by forensic pathologists Dr. Cyril H. Wecht and Dr. Christena L. Roberts.
    (Also, I do not agree with the belief attributed to me of incompetence at Duke Med. I believe Duke University Hospital has earned its vaunted reputation. A mistaken intubation, although fatal, doesn’t negate its reputation in my opinion.)

    RESPONSE to Statement 3: averring that the spleen was removed and inquiry as to why the endotracheal tube was placed. First, the spleen was not removed at surgery… despite sworn testimony at trial by Dr. Nichols. The intubation was considered after Daye vomited while being prepared for a scan. The purpose of the intubation would be to protect the airway from possible future aspiration or to treat any aspiration from his earlier emesis. The intubation, three days post-surgery, had nothing to do with Daye’s wound or surgery for his wound.

    RESPONSE to Statement 4: blaming Mangum for Daye’s death by stating he wouldn’t have been in the hospital if Mangum had not have stabbed him. Mangum likely would not be alive had she not poked Daye with a steak knife, as he was in a jealous rage and was strangling her at the time. Prior to that, Daye had brutalized Mangum physically and busted down a locked bathroom door to get at her.
    LINK to photos of Mangum and the door Daye busted down:
    http://www.justice4nifong.com/exhibit/uLhtm25zzy/htm25zzy.htm

    RESPONSE to Statement 5: inferring that Daye’s spleen was removed during surgery. It is clear from the operative report is that Daye’s spleen was not removed at surgery. If it had been removed, it would have been noted in the operative report’s “Procedures” and its “Post-operative Diagnosis.”

    RESPONSE to Statement 6: admitting to the possibility that Crystal Mangum may have had an unfair trial but that Nifong surely did. Crystal did not get a fair trial as her attorneys worked against her best interests, the jury was biased, and the presiding judge withheld an important report from Dr. Nichols’ personnel folder from Crystal Mangum. As for Nifong, he was never a party in a trial, civil or criminal.

  2. Greetings.

    A few corrections and to put injustice into perspective.
    On October 25, 2019, world-renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril H. Wecht issued his report on Crystal Mangum’s 2011 murder case and made the following two seminal determinations:
    (1) the manner of death of Crystal Mangum’s boyfriend Reginald Daye was an accident due to medical malpractice by Duke University Hospital (an esophageal intubation in treating Daye’s delirium tremens); and
    (2) the opinions of the medical examiner in the case (who was later fired and under consideration for criminal investigation for his work in other cases) regarding the cause and manner of death were unreliable due to significant discrepancies between his autopsy report and the medical/hospital records.

    Ramification of Dr. Wecht’s report is that Crystal Mangum has served more than nine years of a minimum fourteen-year sentence for a crime she not only did not commit, but for a crime that was not committed. Also of note is that the media is well aware of Dr. Wecht’s report and its implications, but has remained completely silenced with the exception of a single media outlet “Women & Crime podcast.”
    Make no mistake that the vindictive prosecution of Ms. Mangum and its resultant no-crime wrongful conviction was payback for her role as accuser in the Duke Lacrosse case; clearly this had nothing to do with African American Daye’s death.

    By stating in your piece that “Crystal Mangum – later stabbed her boyfriend to death” you are perpetuating the Big Lie. Keep in mind that the instrument of Daye’s death was an endotracheal tube and not a steak knife.
    WRAL-5 News was notified in July 2020 about Dr. Wecht’s report and Mangum demanded a correction on its online article (which you referenced) to represent the truths expounded in Dr. Wecht’s report. WRAL-5 News ignored Mangum’s request and subsequently Mangum filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against WRAL-5 News on January 6, 2021. Her initial brief can be found on my blog site http://www.justice4nifong.blogspot.com.

    As far as the so-called hoax goes, Crystal Mangum has always maintained that she was sexually assaulted at the Duke Lacrosse party of 2006. Of fifty partygoers at the beer-guzzling/stripper-ogling Spring Break bash, Mangum could have misidentified her assailants; therefore, it is possible that the three named defendants were innocent and Mangum’s claim of sexual assault are both true. They are not mutually exclusive.

    As a retired physician with access to prosecution discovery (including medical records), I consider myself an authority on the murder case and would be happy to enlighten you on the extremes of injustice suffered by the Duke Lacrosse accuser.

    1. If you physically assault someone, and the person subsequently dies, you are guilty of murder. The man wouldn’t have been in the hospital if she hadn’t “poked him in the side” with a knife.

      Taken somewhat to an extreme, James Brady’s death was ruled to be a homicide caused by Hinkley having shot him some 33 years earlier (back when he also shot Reagan). It’s largely a moot point because Hinkley was found to have been insane, but it shows the extent to which criminal liability can extend.

      Now I don’t know exactly what she hit when she stabbed him, but I can see a collapsed lung necessitating incubation and I can see medical malpractice there complicating things, even perhaps being the immediate cause of death. But this wouldn’t have been necessary if she hadn’t stabbed him!!!

      Likewise, I can see addiction withdrawal being an issue in the hospital if they are incompetent enough to neither anticipate it nor deal with it, but, again, he was in the hospital because she had stabbed him.

      She’s raising the exact same defense that Derek Chauvin is raising in his trial — except where George Floyd may have dropped dead regardless of what the police did that day, if she hadn’t stabbed him, Reginald Daye wouldn’t have been in the hospital!!!

      Remember that he went to the hospital because she stabbed him….

      There are all kinds of people in prison because the person they stabbed (or shot) subsequently died in the hospital — with medical malpractice often not helping things.

      As an aside, you may have heard of the so-called “Scottsboro Boys” – nine black teenagers falsely accused of raping two white women aboard a train near Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931.

      As I understand it, a medical doctor testified at trial that one of the purported victims was still a virgin, and hence couldn’t have been raped, there were people who persisted in believing them guilty. So too here — and for the same racist reasons…

      1. Hey, Enough.

        Respectfully, I believe your argument (which is oft used by many as justification for the second-degree murder conviction in her case) is a bit simplistic. Yes, she stabbed Mr. Daye, but the wound was non-fatal. I have had access to the prosecution discovery since March 2012, and it contains Mr. Daye’s hospital/medical records… including the Operative Report.

        There is much about the Crystal Mangum murder case of which you and the general public is unaware… mainly because the media has worked in concert to suppress the truths of her innocence.

        Specifically, the autopsy report by medical examiner Dr. Clay Nichols was fraudulent with fabricated findings and a false and unsubstantiated conclusion that Daye died secondary to complications of a stab wound to the chest. (This bogus autopsy report is the document upon which the prosecution based its murder case.). For example, the autopsy report stated there were perforations to Daye’s left lung, diaphragm, stomach, left kidney, spleen, and colon.. The operative report confirmed only the laceration to the colon which was repaired with sutures and a minor lesion to the spleen which was treated with electrocautery and Surgi-cel (a sponge-like clotting wafer). Dr. Nichols also claimed that at autopsy there were linear scabbed-over lesions to Daye’s left upper extremity which he wrote were suggestive of “defensive injuries” — implying that Mangum repeatedly slashed at him. The EMS at the scene and orthopedic surgery consultant both pre-operatively examined Daye’s extremities and documented no lesions to them..

        The issue regarding Daye’s spleen is quite contradictory. Medical Examiner Dr. Clay Nichols twice testified under oath at trial that he was unable to examine the spleen at autopsy because it had been removed eleven days earlier during emergency surgery. Yet, in his autopsy report he describes the spleen as weighing 340 grams, with an intact capsule and sharp angles, and red-brown color on sectioning. How can he make these observations at autopsy on an organ he testified had been surgically removed a week and a half earlier?

        In addition, Dr. Nichols was fired days prior to Mangum’s November 2013 trial and was under consideration for criminal investigation by the Orange County District Attorney for his work in other forensic cases. The presiding judge looked at Dr. Nichols’ personnel folder and found an 18-page document he deemed to be relevant. It was shown to attorneys on both sides in judges chambers and sealed under an order that it was for “attorney eyes only.” Crystal Mangum has repeatedly tried to obtain a copy of this report but the judge has denied her requests, even when she was acting Pro Se.

        Not only that, but the trial judge and Mangum’s defense attorney allowed three jurors to be seated on the jury who had connections to Duke University and/or its hospital. Two were employees, and the third was the wife of a surgeon at the very hospital where the fatal medical malpractice took place.

        Returning to your argument that the stab wound was responsible for Daye ending up in the hospital, Dr. Wecht addresses this in his October 25, 2019 report. A LINK to Dr. Wecht’s report is:
        http://www.justice4nifong.com/exhibit/uLhtm20_n/htm20_n.htm

        As Dr. Wecht noted in his report, the stab wound inflicted by Mangum was non-fatal and was successfully treated in surgery with a postoperative prognosis for a full recovery. It was the errant esophageal intubation, which, when unrecognized, led to Daye’s cardiac arrest. Following re-intubation properly in his trachea and twenty minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Daye’s heart was revived and beating spontaneously, but his oxygen-sensitive brain cells had died and subsequently left him in a comatose state. After a week of observation without neurological improvement, he was electively removed from life-support and he died. So you can clearly see that the stab wound to his side had no nexus to Daye’s brain death or actual death.

        Had Daye been initially intubated in his airway, he undoubtedly would most likely have been discharged home from the hospital.

        Your, like the majority of people, are at a disadvantage not having access to prosecution discovery or accurate and objective media reporting when it comes to assessing Mangum’s murder case. However I appreciate your input and concern about finding the truths of a highly political and racially biased judicial outcome that represents manifest injustice..

      2. My response:

        1: While I am not defending incompetence on anyone’s part, if a spleen is removed, depending on the reason why it was removed, would not protocol demand that it be sent (independently) to autopsy, where it would be weighed at that time?

        Depending on why it was removed — and damage from an improperly inserted breathing tube doesn’t strike me as the reason. And knowing that there would be at least an assault trial for the knife wound to the spleen (which you admit he suffered), by-the-book protocol would demand documentation of that organ for the subsequent trial (presuming that he lived). Kinda like saving bullets or doing a rape kit.

        Well, while he should have cited his source (i.e. the other MD who did that analysis), it doesn’t inherently mean that it is wrong.

        2: ” For example, the autopsy report stated there were perforations to Daye’s left lung, diaphragm, stomach, left kidney, spleen, and colon.. The operative report confirmed only the laceration to the colon which was repaired with sutures and a minor lesion to the spleen which was treated with electrocautery and Surgi-cel (a sponge-like clotting wafer)’

        Based on the incompetence you claim exists at Duke Med, it’s also possible that the autopsy is correct and that those injuries were missed in the initial surgery. (I do note the subsequent removal of speen, that’s a significant second surgery to an organ which you admit *was* cut by the knife.) I personally know of a case where an ER failed to either notice an 11-inch-long piece of glass in a student’s back nor that it had sliced a kidney artery until after the kid had bled out — and he was White.

        3: Absent a completely different medical reason, subsequent removal of a stabbed spleen strikes me as an assault-related injury. And I also have to start wondering why the breathing tube was really necessary.

        4: “As Dr. Wecht noted in his report, the stab wound inflicted by Mangum was non-fatal and was successfully treated in surgery with a postoperative prognosis for a full recovery. It was the errant esophageal intubation, which, when unrecognized, led to Daye’s cardiac arrest.”

        Do you have any idea how many more young Black men would be on Death Row, convicted of First Degree Murder, if our treatment for Gunshot wounds was as primitive as it was in 1960? If we hadn’t applied what we learned in Vietnam, if we didn’t have paramedics, if we didn’t have Emergency Medicine as a specialty — if all we had were “scoop & run” ambulances and a general practitioner covering the ER? If we didn’t have regional trauma centers and air ambulances….

        That goes both ways — someone facing reduced charges because doctors were able to save the victim’s life, or (in this case) facing additional charges because (you allege) they screwed up attempting to do so. Either way, SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE STABBED HIM.

        5: Wasn’t surgery required to remove said spleen? Well, that’s not a prognosis for full recovery — not when major surgery is required.

        6: It’s possible that Chrystal Magnum didn’t get a fair trial — but Nifong definitely did, and anything on a website alleging otherwise is not something that I am going to bother to read…

    2. A quick search reveals Harr’s history of a professional Avenatti-like grifter and gadfly for vexatious litigation.

      Like decay follows death, a string of dismissed, incoherent lawsuits and numerous warnings from the bench follow Harr from California to North Carolina.

      He peddles and clings to the bogus DNA “evidence” and conspiracy theories that Nifong and Meehan invented as if they are fact the same way that members of the Duke Faculty keep professing that George W. Bush blew up the Twin Towers.

      The only reason his one-man clown circus keeps popping up to gaslight everyone is because he has plenty of hot air.

      1. Hey, E.J.

        My past, both personal and ,professional, is far from exemplary, but is far from being what you describe as a grifter and gadfly. The fact is that my past is irrelevant when it comes to media suppression of the truths of Crystal Mangum’s innocence in her boyfriend’s death.

        A response to attacks on my character are best expressed in a 600-word limit reply in an INDY Week article dated August 28, 2013 which reads:
        “Let’s assume that everything written about me in John Tucker’s Aug. 21 INDY Week article (“The avenger”) is absolutely true: that I am a paranoid gadfly with impish freckles and bushy white eyebrows who flits around forging signatures, conning people out of their property, filing hundreds of frivolous lawsuits and crisscrossing the country destroying people’s lives.

        At day’s end, the aforementioned has no bearing on the following four irrefutable facts related to Duke lacrosse victim/accuser Crystal Mangum’s criminal case in which she is charged with murder in the death of boyfriend Reginald Daye: (1) the April 14, 2011, autopsy report on Daye by the state medical examiner is false and fraudulent; (2) Duke University Hospital is solely responsible for Daye’s death due to an errant esophageal intubation; (3) the larceny charge against Mangum lacks probable cause as Daye even admitted to giving the alleged stolen cashier’s checks to her, and prosecution lacks an eyewitness; and (4) the governor, lieutenant governor, N.C. state and federal politicians, the N.C. State Bar, the N.C. Medical Board, civil rights organizations and media, both local and national, are all aware of the injustices in the vendetta prosecution of Mangum (as payback for her role in the Duke lacrosse case) and have elected to remain silent and idle.

        I accept full responsibility for actions that punched my ticket for an extended tour of hell, where I encountered Satan and his disciples and saw the devil’s work up close. Had it not been for those painful experiences, I would not be able to recognize today’s demons and their plots to corrupt and hijack the justice system from unknowing Tar Heelians.

        The failure of mainstream media to report, investigate and editorialize on real threats to the integrity of the state’s justice system threatens the integrity of journalism itself.”

        Keep in mind that I wrote the above several months before Mangum’s November 2013 trial and more than six years before Dr. Wecht’s report was issued.

  3. As bad as the words were, and are, I think that the implicit (and explicit) threats of violence were exponentially worse. For example, I still remember a credible report of a gun being pulled on a Fox News producer — and no one seeming to care.

    That’s the “500 lb Gorilla” in these issues — and it’s very much an issue in the ongoing trial in Minneapolis. Personally, I think that Chauvin is guilty of *something* but I don’t think he’s going to get a fair trial in an atmosphere where everyone knows that even more of the city will be burnt down if the radical thugs don’t get the verdict they demand.

    In an earlier and quite disgraceful era, the Klu Klux Klan used to surround courthouses and demand that Black defendants be found guilty — when they didn’t just drag them out of jail and lynch them. And how is that really different from what’s happening in Minneapolis today?

    My memory of the Duke Rape Hoax is that threats of violence and fear of the violent thugs was the backstory, that it was the unspoken factor behind a lot of the other things that happened. Duke was worried about violence and off-campus protesters wreaking havoc on campus — justifiably so. And what’s not known is how many people would have spoken up but for concerns about their personal safety.

    We really have to address the issue of violence — it is the violence which is inexorably reducing out society to a volatile reincarnation of the Wiemar Republic. Yes, we should hold purported journalists and purported civil libertarians responsible for their speech, and let us not forget the “Gang of 88” — the Duke Professors who publicly stated that the accused students should not be entitled to a presumption of innocence. But bad speech can be dealt with by good speech — it’s the violence and threat thereof that we need to end.

    1. @ Enough is Enough. Keep in mind Crystal was charged with murder. The world famous forensic pathologist and medico-legal expert disagrees with you saying Duke’s error in treating him for Delirium Tremens from alcohol withdrawal was in fact an intervening cause. If he was being treated for complications to the wound that sent him to Hospital then the medical malpractice would not negate Crystal’s responsibility but that was not the case.

      1. ” Duke’s error in treating him for Delirium Tremens from alcohol withdrawal was in fact an intervening cause.”

        Even if true, had she not stabbed him, he would neither have been in Duke’s hospital nor being treated for Delirium Tremens from alcohol withdrawal” — and hence you get into the same issue as with George Floyd. Did Sgt. Derek Chauvin kill him or was Floyd’s medical condition such that it was an intervening cause making Chauvin innocent?

        In some states, if you steal a “Stop” sign for your dorm wall, and then a week later someone doesn’t stop there and someone gets killed in the resulting crash, *you* get charged with murder (i.e. third degree murder or manslaughter) for having caused the accident by stealing the sign. That’s what I keep coming back to here.

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