A KC Johnson post today provides a detailed, gripping account of how key Duke University administrators acted when confronted with what was on its face a wildly improbable story involving the gang-rape of a black exotic dancer by a group of white Duke students during a party at a University owned house.
Johnson’s account is based “on e-mail or personal discussions with more than two dozen participants in the campus events" he describes.
Today’s post is the first of a two-post series. The second will appear tomorrow. Johnson posts here, usually just after midnight.
Most of Johnson's post is a day-by-day account with probing commentary concerning what key Duke administrators knew, did and didn’t do beginning on March 16, when police first searched the house, and the three Lacrosse captains living there provided them with extraordinary cooperation, including signed statements and voluntary submission to DNA testing.
Johnson's day-by-day account takes readers up to March 26, one day after the Raleigh News & Observer published it's grossly biased, inflammatory and now thoroughly discredited “anonymous interview” story.
Johnson reports new information concerning events and individuals, including a March 25 meeting attended by some Duke administrators and a large group of lacrosse parents. We also learn more about Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek's role in “arranging” for at least some players to be represented by an attorney of her choosing. What she did seems very questionable.
I hope Wasiolek speaks publicly concerning what Johnson reports. The parents of current Duke students should have been informed months ago of just what it was she did concerning the players. The parents of future Duke students and the public that’s followed the Hoax Case will also be interested to know what Wasiolek did.
For me, the post’s “biggest bombshell” was the report that at least some Duke administrators told some of the players not to tell their parents what was going on.
I hope when I finish this post and go to Duke University’s website there’s already a news release there at least responding to Johnson’s “don’t tell parents” report. If not, I plan to contact Duke News and ask for a statement.
Some of what Johnson’s sources provided is “old news.” For example, President Brodhead refused on March 25 to meet with the players’ parents. But that news still shocks.
What’s more, it raises a very important question Brodhead and the PR people Duke’s retained to “help us get past this” won’t answer: Just why did Brodhead refuse to meet with the parents?
While Johnson's is a “can’t stop reading” post, it’s also almost physically painful to learn that top Duke administrators – President Brodhead, Executive Vice president Tallman Trask III, Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek, Athletic Director Joe Alleva, and others - initially recognized the hoax for what it was, but nevertheless, over the course of many days and for reasons they’ve never explained, frequently acted in ways that at the least enabled the witch hunt and its monumental injustices.
Based on the information Johnson’s sources have provided, it’s even reasonable to ask whether Brodhead’s and other administrators’ actions didn’t, in fact, help make the witch hunt and its injustices inevitable.
Brodhead now tells everyone they shouldn't look back at events at Duke last March and thereafter. He wants us all to “look to the future.”
Johnson’s post makes it easy to understand why Brodhead doesn’t want us looking back. It also helps us understand why Duke’s trustees, top administrators and alumni association officers and directors are so reluctant to talk about what the University did and didn't do in response to the Hoax.
The events that have flowed from the initial false witness have rightly been described as a tragedy for the forty-six victimized students and their families.
Brodhead acknowledges there's been a tragedy at Duke. He’s even assigned himself a role: the well-intentioned but befuddled ditherer new to tragedy and all its complexities.
But Johnson doesn’t let Brodhead walk away with that role.
In the tragedy Johnson describes Brodhead is Cassius, the students and their families are the assassinated Caesar, and the rest of “the Brodhead team” are the other senators,not one of whom evidences any of Brutus’ redeeming qualities.
Back on September 9 I put up a post that included the following:
Brodhead likes to tell alumni groups and others he's been "very fair" to the lacrosse players.Johnson’s post revives those questions. More importantly, it takes us closer to the answers.
How was Brodhead's withholding important information concerning the players’ cooperation fair to them?
How was it fair to any of us seeking to learn as much truth as possible about the situation?
How was it fair to Duke University or the community?
Whose interests were served by Brodhead's and his top administrators' withholding of that information from the public on Mar. 25?
Advice to Duke: Duck, cover and silence isn’t going to get you “past this.” Start answering the questions. Begin making things as right as you can.
Endorse Professor Coleman’s proposal that Nifong step aside and let a special prosecutor take over the case. Condemn the racists who threatened Reade Seligmann on May 18. Apologize to Seligmann and his family for not doing that when he was first threatened.
There’s much more you need to do but those actions will be important initial steps. They’ll be welcomed by people who love Duke and value fairness.
Words to KC Johnson: You’ve rendered another extraordinary service to those falsely accused; to those who seek as much justice as it’s possible to obtain now; and to those who want Duke to get “past this” with the openness, truth and courage that befit a great university.
Final word to readers: You're right. I plan to post tomorrow on Johnson's second post. I can't wait to read it.