A Different World

Where Duke University went wrong on lacrosse rape claims

Published May 9, 2006 in this post on the former blog.

My main criticism of Duke University's handling of the ongoing rape case, involving a mother of two and stripper who claimed she was raped at a Duke Lacrosse party where she was paid to perform, was that the university reacted too slowly to keep it from turning into the circus it has become. A report released today, which is detailed in an Associated Press article below, confirmed those suspicions. The president wasn't aware of what was going on for several days and some in the police department didn't believe the woman because her story changed and said it would blow over. When it involves race, an alleged victim's initial reactions shouldn't be seen as completely logical -- would you be if something similar happened to you? -- which is why sometimes rape victims come forward too late or after they've destroyed evidence by showering or what have you. It has to be hard to correctly process a rape on short notice. That doesn't mean I believe this particularly woman was or wasn't raped, just that initially conflicting statements alone should not have led anyone at Duke to believe there was no reason to follow the case closely. I hope Duke and every other university now understand that they must take these claims seriously as soon as they are reported. That doesn't mean a rush to judgment, but it does mean making sure the claims get a fair, complete and timely public hearing.