Monday, December 22, 2008

Restating the trustee enablement question

The comments in response to Why did Duke’s trustees enable the frame-up attempt? and Did Duke's trustees just follow Steel's lead? were, without exception, thoughtful.

Each added to the discussion of Duke’s disgraceful role in the Duke/Durham hoax and frame-up attempt.

For all of that, a number of the comments convinced me I didn't state as clearly as I should've just what I was asking.

Here, in italics, is a very reasonable Anon comment that helped me see I should've been more clear - - -

Duke has spent more than $100 million buying good will in Durham. (Duke is likely the biggest renter of office space; and often the first to line up to invest in any re-development project).

Duke needs the city's good will in order to get the zoning it requires to rebuild its campus (a project costing up to $500 million).

In their grand scheme of things, IMHO, big-time players like Steel and the rest probably considered three innocent Duke students to be expendable.

I can agree that trustees might let some mistreatment of Duke students by Durham authorities happen because they told themselves it was, for example, "just small potatoes citing a kid for a misdemeanor."

That wouldn't be right but I could understand that trustees might rationalize their indifference because "what was done wasn't major."

But in the case that started with Mangum’s lies we weren’t talking about something like citing and cuffing a Duke student for public peeing when in similar circumstances a DPD officer would have let another a Durham citizen off with a warning, unacceptable as it would be for Duke’s trustees to passively condone or actively cooperate in such differential treatment of Duke students.

But the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt involved felonies that would, on conviction, have sent innocent students to prison for decades

I'm not questioning that Duke’s trustees might have gone along with some mistreatment of Duke students .

What I'm questioning is why
any Duke trustee would enable a frame-up as vicious as one for gang rape and other felonies and that was so obviously a frame-up based on a crazy hoax story.

Why would Duke's trustees enable a gang rape frame-up of their students based on a malicious hoax so improbable and crazy it was recognized as false in the first hours it (and multiple versions of it) was told at DUMC’s ER on the morning of Mar. 14, 2006.

Recall all those Duke and Durham police officers and Duke physicians and nurses (one or two excepted) in the ER that night who questioned and/or examined Crystal Mangum?

They concluded her claims of multiple rapes were false. Their conclusions were documented in written police reports and physicians' and nurses' medical notations.

Why would Duke trustees say ignore all that and go along with Sgt. Gottlieb and Mr. Nifong?

Yes, I know Duke tries to work as cooperatively as it can with Durham authorities, but aren’t there times when it says to Durham authorities: “Duke can’t go with you on this one?”

Yes, I know Durham has lots of clout – zoning, for instance – with which it can influence Duke.

But Duke has lots of clout with which it can also influence Durham.

And in those first days of Mar. 14 and 15 when Duke Police and Durham Police investigations concluded Mangum's gang rape claims were without foundation, surely Durham's power figures weren't pressuring Duke to go along with the frame-up then, were they?

So given a crazy story and the overwhelming weight of the evidence pointing to the students' innocence, why did Duke's trustees lead the university to a place where it became the principal enabler of a frame-up of its own students?

From the close of Why did Duke’s trustees enable the frame-up attempt?

But suppose instead of trying to pass that 2400 sq. ft. house off as being 2600 sq. ft., we tell prospective buyers it’s really a 30,000 sq. ft., brand new house “the same as the one former Sen. John Edwards built for himself?”

Who’d believe us?

We’d be crazy to try to market the house that way.

There’s no Realtor here in Durham I know who’s ever tried to market a 2400 sq. ft. house as a 30,000 sq. ft. house.

But Duke’s trustee’s went along with a crazy story (really a series of contradictory crazy stories) told in the DUMC emergency room during the early morning hours of March 14, 2006.


Duke’s trustee’s agreed to serve as enabling partners of a rogue prosecutor.

The rogue’s conduct was so offensive to due process and legal ethics that within four days of his first public statements meant to advance the framing, the North Carolina State Bar opened a case file in anticipation of the time when it would have to consider bringing ethics charges against him; something that later happened and led to his disbarment.

Wouldn't it be crazy for a university’s board of trustees to partner with a rogue prosecutor hell bent on trashing and framing its own students?

But Duke’s trustees did that?



Anonymous said...

One of the main perpetrators of the frame-up was Tara Levicy R.N., an employee at the time of Duke University Health Systems (DUHS). Her false statements to the police, alleged alterations in the SANE report, and bolstering of Nifong's case over many months were all done on the payroll of Duke University.

She was also backed up by the head of Duke's SANE unit Theresa Arico R.N., who gave an interview to the Raleigh News& Observer supporting her falsehoods.

Furthermore Crystal's SANE exam was at Duke's Emergency Department and her records were available to DUMC administrators up to and including Victor Dzau M.D., the head of DUMC. Yet DUMC officials did nothing to correct the false impressions of Crystal's medical exam used by Durham police, Nifong, and Durham city officials including Patrick Baker and Mayor Bell.

Thus, employees of the Duke Trustees at DUMC were partly responsible for initiating and sustaining the frame-up over many months. This was above and beyond any actions by Brodhead, Moneta, Dean Sue, and others in the Duke central administration.

As information began to emerge in April and May 2006 exonerating the students, the Trustees should have been asking some tough questions about the actions and policies of DUMC employees and adminstrators. Perhaps then it would not have taken another year for formal exoneration of the students.

The Trustees were asleep at the wheel-- probably deceived by Brodhead and Steel and too passive in the face of a growing crisis.

Anonymous said...

It would be very interesting to discover what the trustees knew at the time. For example, did they know the exam by the SANE was not completed or that the SANE was not even a SANE and had to be assisted by an MD? Did they think this apparently shoddy work would be construed as Duke not taking the rape claim seriously and thus derailing the any legitimate claim by Mangum?

Was something like this among the factors that shaped their response? Having sat on boards (though much smaller than this one), I can tell you the hardest thing is not deciding what to do but understanding what you have in front of you. If the managers bring information to the table that is incomplete and inappropriately slanted by legal or publicity issues, then it becomes very tough to sort out. I doubt anyone on the board had seen somethng like this before or even knew anyone who had. And it is very tempting to let the crisis team work through the day to day decisions without much oversight.

I am sure that many on the board wish this case would just go away. And because it is currently out of view for all but a relatively few people, maybe they think it has.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for the BOT the case has not gone away and won't for some time to come - or at least until the courts rule on every last issue that comes their way and those out there(this blog site, Liestoppers, and of course Durham-in-Wonderland just to name a few) who have posted so diligently in their attempts to seek justice for the so wrongly accused are still able to draw a breath. What happened should never happen again. The Duke BOT has a responsibility to seek real answers and then not only make real recommendation that such treatment of its students is never allowed to occur but to take real action against those within the university community who allowed such a travesty to occur.
I do know this much, as long as Duke (the medical center, the BOT, the administration, and the faculty) maintain their innocence or the lack of culpability in what happened to RCD, the lacrosse team, and the Presslers, then I will do my best to convince students that I teach, their parents, and anyone else that Duke University is not a safe place for any student.
Needless to say, the fact that Durham is unsafe goes without saying.

Marco2006 said...

As for why, the prism of race, class, and gender prevented real examination or action. Instead of governing by truth, they chose political appropriateness and let Dick & Bob handle it.

No matter what they failed and there always needs to be rewards and consequences. Perhaps in the future BOT members need to realize its a real job with professional risks and rewards. The hands off approach proved to be a failure.

Anonymous said...

And where is the Methodist Church in all this, which has the real power over the BOT, according to the way the BOT is set up?

Has it taken any steps to correct matters so that these things cannot happen again?

Has it in fact done anything at all other than be an indifferent bystander?

Should the entire present status of Duke as a charitable non-profit be examined by the Attorney General?