Mike Seigel is a professor of law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and editor of an about to be released book – Race to Injustice: Lessons Learned from the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. It's preface and table of contents can be viewed here.
On April 17, 2007, a week after the NC attorney general said there never was any credible evidence of a rape and declared the three Duke students indicted in a malicious frame-up attempt innocent, Seigel published an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel.
Seigel said some important things about alcohol abuse and other repugnant and harmful behaviors by college students, including ones that reach the criminal level. He also said Duke and other college administrators need to do more to reduce, if not eliminate, those unacceptable behaviors.
I commend him for all of that.
But he also singled out the Duke lacrosse players as the poster students for the behaviors he was condemning. In doing that, he was sloppy with facts and smeared the students on the lacrosse team.
By itself, excessive and underage drinking is bad enough — but it is much worse because of its consequences. According to Duke, drunkenness is a factor in incidents involving assault, property damage, injury and unwanted sex.
The behavior of the Duke lacrosse team provides ample evidence to support this claim. (emphasis added)
Keeping in mind that the team was composed of about 45 players, 22 team members were disciplined in 2003-04 for misconduct involving underage possession of alcohol, public urination, providing false identification, and violation of the school’s noise policy. In 2005-06, 18 players were cited, with the offenses this time including open containers of alcohol in a car, destruction of property and holding a drinking party in a dorm room. ....
Look what Seigel did there.
He first cited drunkenness as “a factor in incidents involving assault, property damage, injury and unwanted sex.” That's reasonable. But then Seigel asserted, “The behavior of the Duke lacrosse team provides ample evidence to support this claim.”
That's smearing the students on the lacrosse team.
None of the lacrosse players’ behaviors Seigel listed involved assault, injury or unwanted sex; and only one involved property destruction.
In Spring ’06 the now disbarred Mike Nifong, certain Duke faculty, the Raleigh N&O and the
But Seigel smeared the students on the lacrosse team just a week after the NC attorney general had irrefutably shown them to be the victims of a malicious public trashing by many, and a vicious frame-up attempt led by a man the attorney general called a “rogue” prosecutor.
You’d think a law professor would know better and do better.
Let's hope Seigel's op-ed is not a foretaste of what the book he's just edited is like.
A person extremely familiar with Duke and the lacrosse case sent me offline a response to Seigel’s slimming. It follows in full:
Michael Seigel's article misused statistics to defame the lacrosse players.
I had previously reviewed student misconduct statistics ( 2005-2006 academic year ) prepared by Duke's Judicial Affairs dept. and presented on their website. The following information is relevant:
1) In the six most recent academic years ending in 2006, there were a total of 377 incidents of academic dishonesty (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) by all students. None were lacrosse players.
2) In the six years ending in 2006, there were a total of 46 incidents of physical abuse, fighting and endangerment. None were lacrosse players.
3) In the six years ending in 2006, there were 20 incidents of sexual misconduct. None were lacrosse players.
4) In the six years ending in 2006 there were 96 incidents of drug related misconduct .Only one was a lacrosse player (smoking marijuana in his room in 2001) and he was not a member of the 2006 team.
5) In the three years ending in 2006 (not sure earlier years are available) there were 171 alcohol related medical calls to DUPD/EMS. None were lacrosse players. It's likely that these are the most serious, and dangerous alcohol related violations.
6) About 60% of the lacrosse players, based on the 2006 team, had GPA's of 3.0 or higher.
7) The lacrosse players have a 100% graduation rate.
8) Per the Coleman Report, the lacrosse players" conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior."..." By all accounts, the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined and respectful athletic team."
The great majority of the lacrosse players' incidents of misconduct involved underage and/ or public drinking; and not involved assault, injury or unwanted sex.
Their behavior, while in certain instances lamentable and deserving of criticism, was typical of a high percentage of college students.
Seigel needs to explain why, in talking about the lacrosse players, he ignored the evidence of their outstanding scholarship, academic honesty and other praiseworthy achievements as listed above and as reported by many op-ed writers and bloggers.
It was all available to him in April 2007.