Duke rape case closed; reputations destroyed

By Jessica Hagerty
April 26, 2007

Raleigh News & Observer/MCT

Although all charges on the three Duke lacrosse players have been dropped, they still have that accusation associated with their names. David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty are hardly known by just their names, rather they are the three lacrosse players accused of rape.

The yearlong case finally saw some closure at the time of the dismissal. Not only were the three athletes targeted, but many issues like race, sex and class were brought into play on the private, elite campus.

This sensitive situation was a nightmare for the three athletes, their families and teammates as the 2006 season ended abruptly due to the uproar; all of this because the accuser stated a false allegation.

So a men’s lacrosse team hires a stripper to perform at one of their parties and three of them are accused of raping her. I believed that the three players were innocent from the beginning due to lack of evidence but maybe there was some sort of sexual harassment that triggered the accusation. Whether or not anything happened, she should have known what she was getting herself into with a bunch of drunken guys at a party.

However, her first mistake was becoming a stripper in the first place. I lost respect for her and her accusation immediately. Clearly she must have some issues going on in her head if she feels the need to be a stripper. Her mental health was argued in court and they thought that she “may actually believe” the many stories she told, according to espn.com.

This false accusation left many stereotyping student-athletes’ behavior. Such as Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong who withdrew from the case in January after being charged with ethics violations over his handling of the case. Nifong called the athletes “a bunch of hooligans,” among other things.

Nifong’s dishonesty to the court was a main reason as to why the case played out over the entire year and because of this the players and their families had to suffer more. According to espn.com, he withheld DNA tests and was making misleading comments to the media. From the beginning, the three athletes didn’t have a fair trial with a man like this leading the entire thing.

It’s scary how false accusations can lead to a huge uproar as this situation did. It automatically set a bad name to Duke University and mostly the lacrosse program. I assume that recruiting and participation on the team was hurt after ending a season early.

I have a lot of respect for Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty for going through this court case maturely, but it’s upsetting that they have such a bad label attached to their name.

It may technically be over, but people don’t just forget about these types of things. Anything that they accomplish in life will still be associated with the word rape, and in most scenarios rape is not a socially acceptable word. This entire situation is still going to follow the three athletes for the rest of their lives and it’s not fair. But then again, life just isn’t fair sometimes.

Jessica Hagerty

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