March 28, 2006 was a very difficult day for the members of Duke University’s Men’s lacrosse team and their families. And for the players themselves it was also a dangerous day.
Since March 24 the Raleigh News & Observer had been running a series of biased, racially inflammatory and, in some instances, fraudulent stories casting the players as a bunch of drunken, out-of-control rich white boys, three of whom had beaten, strangled and gang-raped a frightened young black mother while their teammates stood by and did nothing.
The N&O’s March 28 front page carried a story in which Mike Nifong, then DA, called the players “hooligans.”
The front page also contained “the priors” story about previous misdemeanor charges such as underage drinking and public urination brought against 16 of the players, all of whom the N&O named, including one who’d been found innocent of the charge against him.
The N&O’s editorial that day called the accuser “the victim.” It praised her “courage” in coming forward to make her charges. The editorial also demanded suspension of the team’s season until the case was resolved.
On that same March 28 Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published a guest op-ed, “Acute embarrassment,” in which Jill Hopman, a first-year law student at UNC-Chapel Hill and an ’05 Duke grad, claimed that on the preceding Saturday, March 25, the day the N&O ran its now discredited story about what it said was a night ending in “sexual violence,” about 20 Duke lacrosse players entered Charlie’s Pub in Durham and:
“ordered round after round of shots, at times slamming the glasses down on tables and cheering "Duke Lacrosse!" At this point, the bar started buzzing. Comments were flying all over from "How does Duke not have these guys under lockdown?" to "Do they realize what unremorseful drunk snobs they look like?" to "I hate Duke students and this is exactly why." . . .By March 28 the Duke lacrosse story had drawn national and international attention. Hundreds of members of media were in Durham covering it. They scrambled hard to confirm Hopman’s story but soon concluded it was a hoax.
Hopman’s allegations were so quickly and fully discredited that not even Mike Nifong or the Durham Police investigators working the case used it when trashing the players.
On May 24 of this year I said in the post KC Johnson Now:
…"no one in the bar at the time of the alleged shot slammings and shouts has ever substantiated her charges and [N&O reporters] Blythe and Stancill offered no substantiation in their story."…Some hours later KC Johnson responded on the post thread at 8:57 PM:
That statement actually is untrue. I have spoken to four other people who were in the bar that evening. Two corroborated--in no uncertain terms--the story in Blythe and Stancill's article. Two strongly dissented from it. (bold added)Folks, here’s part of Hopman’s op-ed:
The reason that I never critiqued the article in DIW or UPI was not because of a partiality to the N&O but because I had no clear grounds for attacking the article. My general approach, given that there were so many articles worth criticizing in the case, was not to do posts on an article that could have been correct.(bold added) …
This past Saturday night, days after the lacrosse story appeared in newspapers, I was at Charlie's having a drink with my local softball team when about 20 lacrosse players arrived.Folks, in any of you agree with KC Johnson that what Hopman alleged "could have been correct," how do you explain the fact that none of the hundreds of media then in Durham who tried to confirm Hopman's allegations could find any corroborating witnesses?
Some were my close friends at Duke. Some are absolutely amazing athletes that shouldn't be tainted by the unfortunate and extremely sad events of this month. Most should not be guilty by association.
Nevertheless, they ordered round after round of shots, at times slamming the glasses down on tables and cheering "Duke Lacrosse!" At this point, the bar started buzzing. Comments were flying all over from "How does Duke not have these guys under lockdown?" to "Do they realize what unremorseful drunk snobs they look like?" to "I hate Duke students and this is exactly why."
One of the men on my team, a cop, leaned over to me and said, "See A, B and C? They are police officers."
Ten minutes later, one of the other guys on my team, a photographer for a Raleigh newspaper, leaned over and said, "See X,Y and Z? They are reporters."
The players had no idea who was intensely analyzing them, nor did they really seem to care. While I drank a Corona, watching them get plastered and stumbling, yelling about Duke lacrosse, the rest of the bar looked on with derision and repulsion.
Needless to say, it was hard to stomach how their actions conveyed a sense that the severity of the situation is lost on them. Regardless of guilt, there is a degree of gravity that is not met by simply closing facebook profiles to the public. This is not about hazing or underage drinking or even cheating. And this cannot be contained inside the proverbial Duke bubble or under a blanket of silence. …
How come they couldn’t find any corroborating witnesses after Hopman alleged a cop who played on her softball team pointed out three others in Charlie's he told her were also cops?
Hopman alleged a press photographer friend pointed out three members of the press who witnessed the alleged shot slamming, shouting and the other patrons' reactions of disgust and openly expressed criticism.
If that was actually the case, why didn’t any of those press members report what they witnessed? Why didn’t their fellow members of media interview them as corroborating witnesses?
Folks, you can’t really substantiate or corroborate something that didn’t happen, can you?
Sure, a second witness may agree in no uncertain terms with what the first witness said.
But if the first witness’ statements are false, then the agreeing second witness is also a false witness.
I don’t find it difficult to believe KC Johnson found two people who said they were in Chalie’s Pub the night of March 25, 2006 and witnessed the events Hopman described.
But I find it both hard to believe and very sad that KC Johnson now gives any credence to people parroting the Charlie’s Shot Slamming hoax or to the hoax itself.