Sunday, December 21, 2008

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

I can understand why Duke’s trustees went along with investments in hedge funds.

Big rewards, at least until recently.

And we can all understand why the trustees are now spending many millions of dollars to cover up the university’s role in the slandering and libeling of the students on its 2006 Men’s lacrosse team, and the attempt to send to prison for gang rape and other felonies three transparently innocent Duke students.

But can you understand why the trustees served as primary enablers of the Duke/Durham frame-up attempt in the first place?

I can’t.

Like many of you, I’ve read attorney Bob Ekstrand’s suit filing which alleges the mistreatment of the lacrosse players was, to a very significant degree, one episode in a series of episodes in which Duke students were mistreated by Durham authorities; and what’s more, again according to Ekstrand, that mistreatment was in large measure the result of a prior mutual agreement involving Duke and Durham Police.

Yet even if we agree, “OK, in March 2006 things were just as Ekstrand alleges,” that still leaves the question: But why did the trustees go along with such a wildly absurd, transparently false hoax story and the frame-up attempt to which it gave rise?

Why, even allowing Duke was already operating in the disgraceful manner Ekstrand alleges, didn’t the trustees tell their Durham partners they weren’t “on board” for the Duke/Durham hoax and framing?

Wouldn’t you think Duke’s trustees would’ve told their Durham partners and Duke’s senior administrators that “the lacrosse gang rape story” was too absurd, too vicious and much too public for them to let Duke be the leading enabler of the slandering and libeling of 47 of its students and the conspiracy to frame and send three of them to prison?

Why didn’t they?

I’ll close with this - - -

Allowing that many Realtors are honest people, let’s imagine for the purpose of this post that we are shady Realtors.

We tell potential buyers that a 2400 sq. ft., 15 year-old house is really a 2600 sq. ft., only 5-year-old house.

And we steer unsuspecting buyers to an appraiser and a closing attorney who’ll go along with our scam.

We’re shady Realtors – really worse – but we’re not crazy. We know we can pull the deal off. After all, many people have pulled off real estate deals involving even greater misrepresentation than what I’ve sketched here.

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?


Message to the board of trustees: Tell us why.

Cost saving suggestion for the trustees: Tell us why in the same communication in which you ask us to give money “no questions asked” to help pay your suit defense expenses and those hefty fees the hedge fund managers got.


Anonymous said...

Were the trustees just following the lead of the chairman of the board of trustees? Is there even one trustee who will break the wall of silence?

Anonymous said...

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.

AMac said...

The post's title is a darn good question.

For those of us lacking a Duke connection, here's a more general concern: Is the conduct of this institution's Board of Trustees appallingly unique, or is it a consequence of the usual course of business?

If presented with a similar set of circumstances, would other BOTs have performed more honorably or more capably?

We can't know the answer, but I'll state the most reasonable guess: No.

Shivers accompanied by "There but for the Grace of God go I" ought to be the common reaction of university trustees upon reading "Until Proven Innocent" and the like.

Two thoughts as to why. First, the initial reactions to Nifong's and the DPD's campaign by the N&O, the potbangers, the Group of 88, and Pres. Brodhead defined the narrative for the BOT as much as for the media as a whole. It's very difficult for humans to admit "I've been wrong, so I'm repudiating my actions to this point." This is especially true for those in the public eye--and for those such as Trustee Robert Steele who hold themselves in high esteem.

Second, some stories are intrinsically more credible than others, and the Lacrosse Gang Rapists account had the ring of authenticity from the very beginning. As the edges began fraying, it morphed naturally into an essential truth, details notwithstanding. Fake but accurate. Partly this ground was prepared by the rowdy conduct of the team over the years--Charlotte Simmons. Yet it is apparent (to all except many Leftists) that the lion's share of this travesty was enabled by our society's widespread and reflexive genuflection to the idol of political correctness. For the Trustees who came to the case with prior Belief or even merely Acceptance, listening to the Listeners was the natural place to start. (Obviously, I am using that word in the same toxic manner that the Listeners themselves do.)

It would have taken unusual insight and strength of character for a Duke Trustee to have deviated from the road that Brodhead and Steele reflexively began to travel. None did, in those critical weeks and months before "lawyering up" became the order of the day.

Sadly, few of their peers at other institutions would have, either.

f1guyus said...

First you have to have honest people, then you can have honest institutions. Lacking honest people you can have all the rules you want the institutions will still be corrupt.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Duke in 1955. When I was a student, relations between the university and the city were bad. Duke behaved quite arrogantly back then.

I think the trustees may have been willing to throw the lacrosse players under the bus to prove that they now want to cooperate with the city.