Saturday, August 19, 2006

Duke lacrosse: A Duke lax father speaks out

Readers' Note: I've just placed the post below on this thread at the Editor's Blog, where the Raleigh News & Observer's executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, blogs. The N&O's biased, inaccurate and inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage was a major factor in turning what should have been a thorough and fair police investigation into a witch hunt that's inflicted grave harm on individuals and the community.

The post contains an extraordinary essay by a father of one of the lacrosse players.

The essay appeared this morning in Durham-in-Wonderland.


Dear Melanie,

You keep bringing us news interviews with the Duke hoax accuser’s father and comments and Q Section columns by members of the widely-discredited liberal/leftist Duke faculty Group of 88.

I'm OK with that so long as you give us balance.

But when was the last time you ran an extensive interview story featuring a Duke lacorsse parent or published a column by one of the DL parents ?

If Triangle area readers want to know what DL parents are saying, we have to go to publications such as Durham-in-Wonderland.

Please read the following column which DiW published today. Tell us why we don't see columns like that in your Q Section.

Thanks for giving the column a look. I hope you respond. And I hope other readers respond as well.


DiW publisher's note: Robert Wellington is a Duke lacrosse parent; he recently sent me the essay below, which I reproduce in its entirety - - -


In a world that has become complacent with respect to honesty--or more accurately stated, the lack thereof--two men have emerged as symbols of this new debased standard. One man is the president of the highly regarded Duke University, the other serves as District Attorney in Durham, North Carolina. One man prides himself on his intellectual capacity and erudite demeanor, the other on his newly won status and influence as the top law enforcement official within his community.

Both men relish in their power and positions of leadership and seemingly will do anything to maintain them, yet neither is a leader.

Both men seem to be motivated by fear—the fear of being pushed from the vaunted heights of their personal fiefdoms, the fear of criticism, the fear of admitting that they have made a mistake.

But most of all, they seem to fear being viewed differently than the way they see themselves when looking into a mirror. Neither has the courage to look deeply inside and see who they really are, to catch that glimmer of inspiration which might put them on the road to understanding the responsibilities as well as the hardships that come with the ordination to high office.

Both men have reacted to the Duke Lacrosse circumstances with one overriding impetus: their personal survival.

Neither looked more than one move ahead when they condemned the Duke team, its coach, and its players. Both followed an agenda laid out long before, in one case by those unhappy with the status quo and in the other by the almighty god to those in public office, the politics of reelection.

Neither looked at the facts as they related to the circumstances and players in the Duke Lacrosse travesty; neither cared much for seeking the truth.

One needed to quickly show his constituents that he was on top of his new position as president of Duke University, perhaps a reaction to criticism he had received while at Yale. The other needed to show his constituents that he was fair to people of all colors within his jurisdiction and quick to smite illegality in whatever form it presented itself. Ferreting out the facts and determining if a crime actually happened was secondary to showing the public how good each looked in their shining armor.

As a result, one man rushed to judgment, inflicting more harm on his institution and all associated with it than if a crime had actually occurred. The other ignored proper legal protocol, committing all sorts of procedural improprieties in the hope that the end would justify the means. In the end it appears that the only crimes committed were by these two men.

I fear that both men are well aware of their misdeeds. I fear that once again the actions of both men will be driven by their internal mantra of self-preservation. I fear that each man will never be able to admit that he has made a mistake, much less correct it.

One man hides behind his call for patience so that healing can take place. The other hides behind a fabricated conviction that he believes the boys are guilty no matter what the facts might show. Neither has the courage to say that he was wrong.

Both want to be seen as leaders of men, yet both lack the courage to be honest. Honesty in this case begins with admitting their errors and then correcting them. Perhaps we can forgive their early missteps as being the result of limited facts. But they know what is right now: 1800 pages of prosecutorial evidence, or more correctly lack thereof, have clearly laid out the right action to take.

It is time for these men to clean up the mess they have made. It is time for them to make reparations to those they have harmed. It is best that they fix things now while the power and ability to make amends is still in their hands. The wheels of justice turn slowly but they will not be denied.

This is more than a case of three boys falsely accused by a troubled woman. This is a case of doing what is right. What is right is helping the individuals involved; helping those indicted (and all who have been falsely tarred by these fabricated allegations) to be declared innocent before the world and made whole mentally, emotionally and economically; and also helping the accuser to get proper therapeutic and medical assistance so that she can get her life back on track.

This is not a case of black vs. white or privileged vs. underprivileged. This is a case of honesty, both legally and socially. I call upon these men to do what is right and I pray that they will find the wisdom to know what that is and the courage to do it.

Justice will be meted out eventually. The opportunity can be theirs or left to their inheritors. It is time for them to choose. -----

Second publisher's note: - - -

Wellington's son, Rob, was recently named for the second straight year to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.

After the two initial indictments--when the risk of being the third player targeted by Nifong hung over all other 44 players on the team--Wellington swore out an affidavit confirming that he was with Reade Seligmann throughout the period of the alleged crime. He did so before Seligmann produced, among other items, cellphone records and an ATM videotape confirming that Seligmann is demonstrably innocent.

By risking Nifong's wrath to tell the truth, Rob Wellington is one of the few heroes of this affair.


Anonymous said...

Readers must follow the bloggers to get any kind of fair coverage of the Duke hoax case.

Anonymous said...

I think, as a taxpayer in Durham, the money quote is 'economically whole.'

Jeeze, this case is going to cost us tens of millions of dollars.

And I don't begrudge those boys a penny of it either.

If we can "settle" for $5M with a kid who wasn't wearing his seatbelt when the cops hit him, can you imagine what this is going to run?