Wednesday, May 30, 2007

INNOCENT: DPD & Duke Contacts: Questions

CORRECTION ALERT: This post originally said the April 4 phone call to Duke's Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Aaron Graves mentioned below was placed by DPD Inv. Himan. In fact, as a helpful Anon pointed out, the call to Graves was placed by DPD Sgt. Gottlieb.

The post has now been corrected.

Many thanks to the Anon. Such commenters make JinC a more reliable blog.

John
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"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
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A Durham Herald Sun story today provides information that contradicts Durham City Manager Patrick Baker's and Police Chief Steve Chalmers' claims concerning the April 4, 2006 photo session at which false accuser Crystal Mangum identified four Duke lacrosse players as her "assailants." Three of the four were later indicted as part of an extensive frame-up attempt carried out by DA Mike Nifong, members of the DPD and very likely others.

The story also reports on a previously undisclosed meeting involving Duke University’s Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Aaron Graves, its Police Director, Robert Dean, Baker, Chalmers, Deputy Police Chief Ron Hodge, “a police attorney,” and the two principal DPD lacrosse case investigators, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Benjamin Himan. The H-S also reports on a subsequent phone call Gottlieb made to Graves the morning of April 4.

You can read the H-S story here. It’s a very important one with a great deal of information. There’s some very insightful commentary concerning it at this Liestoppers forum discussion site.

In this post I want to discuss the Duke aspect of today’s story. Excerpts from the H-S story:

… The media crush also focused high-level administrative attention on the case. The two detectives, [Gottlieb and Himan,] met on March 29 with Baker, Chalmers, Hodge, a police attorney and two Duke University officials -- Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security Aaron Graves and Police Director Robert Dean.

Baker on Tuesday said the March 29 meeting allowed him to hear from Gottlieb and Himan first-hand, to make sure they and Duke police were working smoothly together and to make sure the detectives had the resources they needed to finish the investigation. He said the issue of identifications didn't come up.
There are questions raised in my mind by the fact that that particular group of people met on March 29 and by Baker’s preposterous explanation for their meeting.

If Baker just wanted to hear first-hand from Gottlieb and Himan to make sure they were working smoothly with Duke police and had the resources necessary to finish the investigation, what were all those other people doing at the meeting? Especially, why was “a police attorney” there if the meeting was for the purposes Baker described? And, by the way, who is that police attorney?

Baker didn’t have to involve Graves and Dean if all he wanted to do was hear from Gottlieb and Himan about cooperation between Duke and DPD, did he?

On the other hand, if Baker and DPD wanted to work out something involving Duke and DPD that was very important and/or questionable, that might need a signoff from the “top cops” at Duke.

In that case, Baker would want/need Graves and Dean at the meeting, wouldn’t he? And maybe a police attorney to assure Duke’s “top cops” that ....

Folks, that was a “heavy hitters meeting” involving top law enforcement people at Duke and DPD, with Baker/DPD bringing along an attorney. Some very important things were surely talked about and perhaps decided there.

A little further along in the H-S article we find:
The detectives met with Nifong on March 29 and again on March 31. In the first meeting, the district attorney asked them to contact members of the lacrosse team to see if they'd talk.

In the second, according to Gottlieb, he suggested assembling the photos taken the week before and showing them to the accuser "to see if she recalled seeing the individuals at the party."

Himan's notes -- which were drafted at the time, while Gottlieb compiled his report a couple of months after the fact -- didn't mention any of the three meetings.

Gottlieb said he reported the Nifong's suggestion to Lamb and Ripberger on March 31, and had Himan and Investigator Shanda Williams start working on the PowerPoint.

Himan finished the job on April 3, the following Monday, after having Clayton and another investigator, Michele Soucie, review the presentation. The next day, Gottlieb had an office assistant, Van Clinton, look over the presentation again, and then had Clayton and two crime-scene technicians, Angela Ashby and Heather Maddry, help him show it to the accuser.

He also placed a morning call to Graves. Duke officials, like Baker, said the ID process wasn't discussed. "It's my understanding that at that stage it was just about the ways the university could assist in the investigation, and there was no discussion of the ID session," Duke spokesman John Burness said Tuesday.
Woah, Nelly!

Why is Burness speaking for Graves? Shouldn’t Graves be telling us about his phone conversation with Gottlieb?

And what is “It’s my understanding that at that stage” telling us?

It’s such a carefully qualified remark that it left me asking myself again: “Why isn’t Graves telling us about his phone conversation with Gottlieb?

And was it just a coincidence that Gottlieb called Graves on the same day DPD ran what Professor James Coleman called the “no wrong choice” photo ID procedure which was so essential a part of the frame-up?

What’s my strongest reaction to today’s H-S story? It helps build the case for a thorough investigation by the federal government.

I hope you read reporter Gronberg’s H-S story and check in at the Liestoppers forum.

6 comments:

AMac said...

John,

The name "Robert Dean" jogged my memory, and sure enough, he'd written to you to address questions you had back in March, about the notorious CrimeStoppers poster. Responded just enough, that is, to raise other questions... questions that were never resolved.

Stepping back, I think about some of the scandals that have arisen on the national scene: The Wilson/Plame/Libby affair, the sacking of US Attorneys, the leaking of US/European bank cooperation on terrorism funding. In these cases, it seems some participants fall over one another in their haste to come clean, or point the finger, or portray their own innocence. Fairly or not, reporters are at their heels, pestering for answers and trying to ferret out inconsistencies (however ideological and blinkered many of them turn out to be).

Contrast this to the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax. The CrimeStopper board stays hidden in plain sight for over a year, and when exposed... well, not much. Nobody in authority or prominent in politics or in the mainstream media seems to care, much. It fits the pattern. In the H-S article you post on here, Duke and Durham city officials belatedly let word slip out about meetings and activities that are at the least interesting--seemingly confident that no Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen would by bold enough to try and hold their feet to the fire.

It's pretty brazen.

The Burnesses and Chalmers et al. seem strangely confident that no subpoenas or depositions or even forceful Fourth Estaters will be heading their way.

Yesterday's mantra was "Let the accused prove their innocence in front of a Durham County jury."

Today's is "It's all Nifong's doing."

Even those things that plainly were not.

Anonymous said...

The "he" in the reference to placing the call to Graves is Gottlieb.

Anonymous said...

Do you REALLY think the USDOJ is even remotely interested? If so, I've got a choice piece of ocean-front property in Phoenix you may want to buy...

Anonymous said...

Be relentless in calling, writing and e-mailing officials in the Department of Justice. Ignore the naysayers on this blog; it's an attempt to discourage you. The civil rights of the lacrosse players were clearly violated. Demand federal action.

bill anderson said...

I always laugh when I read the word "investigation" in this case. There WAS no investigation; the only thing that the police did was to look to see how they could frame the players.

No one in any official capacity "investigated" anything. They had a story, and were determined to pound square pegs into round holes no matter what.

Anonymous said...

John ...I need to ask you something...what is your e-mail directly...

Duke Lax Mom