Friday, December 22, 2006

Rape Charges Dropped in Duke Case

It's a story most of us in the US know about. Hell, it's a story most of us in the US had already decided the outcome of before we really knew anything about the facts. And herein lies the problem. Media.

The district attorney dropped rape charges Friday against the three Duke University lacrosse players after the stripper who accused them changed her story again. But the men still face kidnapping and sex charges that could bring more than 30 years in prison.

A lawyer for one of the athletes bitterly demanded that District Attorney Mike Nifong drop the remaining counts, accusing him of offering shifting theories of the crime in an attempt to win the case at any cost.

Quick background. A stripper who was "working" a party attended by the players of Duke's lacrosse program accused three players of raping her. The story was all over prime time, every reporter following every little piece of information and then blowing it up to make it look like it may be significant. Remember Natalie Holloway? Same thing. Big build up, big story, big coverage. No outcome. Same with the nutcase who claimed he had murdered Jon Benet Ramsey.
The stripper had more stories than the government during a scandal. And they changed twice as often. Now, I doubt this girl was raped. Obviously she wasn't. The problem here is what occured between the accusing and the outcome, if you can call this an outcome. Three players were treated guilty upon being accused. Faces on TV, names in the paper, reputations ruined, social lives destroyed. Not only were they accused of rape and other horrific crimes, but everyone knew it.
Now it seems to me that this woman engaged in some actions she maybe regretted. And like a lot of people out there, was unable to accept responsiblity for her actions. So who suffers here? Everybody...but the media.

Here's why.
First off, this makes it incredibly scary for woman who really HAVE been raped. Look at the limelight. The accuser in this case remained anonymous, at least, until her picture was leaked to the media. The accused didn't remain anonymous, but before any charges had actually been filed, the media was already discussing whether the rape happened or not and if it did how and why and what would happen in court. I saw more than one person claim to "know the boys were guilty". Shows how much the experts know. I wonder if the world is actually really round?

And secondly, the lawyers in the case are now concerned about their image and reputation. The country is watching, better not fuck this one up. Now the DA is going to scramble to convict the boys of SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Why? Because image the embarassment of him having to admit fault. Plus, he reputation would be ruined. So even though the accuser has now been found to be at least stretching the truth, the DA is still following through with charges. In my experience, once someone has been proved to have lied about one thing, they lose credibility in all things. Not if it's on TV though.

The problem with criminal cases being on TV is that US citizens rights to a fair trial of a jury of their peers that have been uninfluenced by outside sources is now a thing of the past. I predict that in a few decades, some high profile cases will be overturned and the reasoning for the dismissal will be media influencing the jury. But of course, by then, we'll all be dead from something horrible the media doesn't tell us about cause ratings would drop.


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