Under Ray Gronberg’s byline, the Durham Herald Sun reports today:
A police document detailing new information about the Duke lacrosse case investigation reveals that investigators talked with the accuser more than they disclosed previously, and that Mayor Bill Bell and other high-ranking city officials convened two days before a stalled case got a jump start with a photo lineup that violated policy.Today's entire H-S story is here.
Bell urged police to expedite a resolution to the case partly because he worried that racial unrest could erupt, he acknowledged Tuesday. That fear was hidden from his public statements at the height of the Duke lacrosse case when he expressed confidence in Durham's racial unity and condemned national media portrayal of black-white tension.
A copy of the police document -- labeled "Timeline of events for council" but kept so tightly under wraps that it may never have reached elected officials -- was obtained by The Herald-Sun.
Among other data entries, the timeline said Ben Himan, Durham's lead detective in the Duke lacrosse case, spoke to the accuser on March 28, 2006. That discussion isn't mentioned in the case notes of either Himan or his supervisor, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb.
According to the document, Bell met with Himan March 29, 2006, two days before authorities agreed to conduct a photo lineup that violated city policy but prompted indictments of three innocent men.
Documentation shows City Manager Patrick Baker and former Police Chief Steve Chalmers were at the discussion.
It occurred in a regularly scheduled Wednesday morning meeting that allows Bell, Baker and Senior Assistant to the City Manager Reginald Johnson a chance to confer about the city's business.
The five gathered amid the early controversy over what proved to be false rape allegations against members of the Duke lacrosse team.
At the time the investigation was stalled because the players' accuser, a 28-year-old stripper, had offered conflicting accounts and failed to identify her supposed assailants in two initial photo lineups.
But with the case attracting national headlines, Bell urged police to get to the bottom of it rapidly. […]
Gronberg’s story today briefly references a March 29, 2006 meeting between Durham City and Police officials and two Duke administrators.
While Durham City Manager Patrick Baker has downplayed the March 29 meeting as one at which he merely wanted to check in with DPD Sgt. Gottlieb and Inv. Himan to make sure they had all the cooperation and resources they needed to conduct the investigation, the meeting was obviously for some other critically important purpose(s) Baker and other attendees at the meeting are reluctant to disclose.
Let’s take another look at that March 29 meeting with the benefit of what we know from today’s H-S story and some other events.
From a JinC post, INNOCENT: Duke & DPD Contacts: Questions , posted May 30, 2007 in response to a H-S story that day, also with Ray Gronberg's byline [excerpts]:
[The H-S] 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.THAT'S HOW I ENDED MY MAY 30 POST. NOW TO END THIS POST.
The H-S also reports on a subsequent phone call Gottlieb made to Graves the morning of April 4. […]
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.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.
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.
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 [March 29, 2006] 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 read: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.Woah, Nelly!
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.
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 [the H-S May 30, 2006 reporting the March 29, 2006 meeting]?
It helps build the case for a thorough investigation by the federal government.
Folks, what are my reactions to today's H-S story? I'll bet many of them are the same as yours.
Today's story adds to the strength of the case for a federal investigation as well as a state investigation.
Concerning the DPD lacrosse investigation scandal, Bell and Baker (under Durham's council-city manager form of government Baker is the city's top full-time executive officer to whom all department heads, including the Police Chief, report directly) have each made discredited statements and withheld information the public had a right to know.
They've obviously been part of the problem and are part of it now.
Under Baker and Bell’s “leadership," Durham, with Duke's cooperation, has for more than eighteen months engaged in a series of investigative and legal travesties that very likely include criminal conspiracies.
Enough from Bell and Baker!
It's time the state and feds stepped in, discovered what really went on and punished the malfactors.
I plan another post tonight on today's H-S story.
The entire H-S May 30, 2007 story is here; its story today is here.
My May 30 post is here.