My appearance in 1996Wayne Stegall

Copyright 2009
November 1, 2009
Updated November 4, 2009. Added postscript note 1

Selective Enforcement

When I heard on the news on April 17, 2006 that a grand jury had indicted the three Duke lacrosse team players in spite of exculpatory evidence on their behalf, I made a greater resolve to stay out of Durham.  Precious had testified to conflicting numbers of attackers, and then when confronted, admitted none had molested her.  DNA tests made of material taken from all of the team players came back negative.  One of the primary three accused was placed by a banking machine video away from the scene of the alleged crime.  I would not even venture into North Carolina.  Drastic measures must have a reason.  My inside experience gave me a different insight into these proceedings.

Durham's difficulties, stemming out of the harm done to them proceeding from the calamity of April 30, 1994, and their unwillingness to risk their prosperity to take politically difficult actions to protect themselves, created a community-wide determination not to allow any of their secrets to be revealed.  This motive was, unknown to most, convenient to the coverup perpetrated by the those who had actually harmed Durham.  This accidental complicity had already served to silence my testimony to the crimes that were committed, and I was lucky to have escaped it to the extent that I had.

Into this snare walk the Duke boys.  By this time, awareness that something was gravely amiss in Durham was increasing.  I believe that the community believed, whether true or not, that the Duke boys knew and intended to speak of such secrets.  Thus Precious and Nifong did their service for the community to silence these things.  It never was about race, most of the community would have done the same thing.  Certainly, Nortel and their high-placed accomplices had created a bad race problem for Durham.  A casual viewing of Durham School Board meetings on local television would make this clear.  But still, it was not about race.

On one occasion, I told my dad about my experience with Durham and how my policeman neighbor had worn a shirt with the message Selective Enforcement written on it , which I believed held relevance to my experience with persecution there.  (His being a Durham outsider would have increased the likelyhood that he was trying to say something to me.)  By coincidence, the prosection of the Duke boys began to unravel at that time.

Why did Nifong take the rap by himself?  It is common legal advice that no one expecting to be sued should apologize to those they offended.  Thus Duke University's apology was not on their own behalf, but rather on behalf of the community and local government that created the offense.  Behind the scenes, too, lurked the real offenders who hoped to gain by Durham's actions.  Nifong's behavior before the N.C. Bar Association was not mere arrogance, but rather the  frustration of a man who was made the sole fall guy for a larger complicity.  Indeed, it might have taken a nod and a wink from a higher place to even began such an audacious course.  I do not think taking the fall for others was a willing choice either; Nifong does not seem to have that kind of altruism.  Instead I imagine him sulking about trying to find a way to get out of the gag order provision of National Security Letter or perhaps something worse.

Don't you think it strange that no one has sued anyone for this travesty.  The three that were framed did not even bother.1  The remainder of the Duke Lacrosse Team began proceedings to sue.  They said they wanted to know the real truth.  As a consequence they run up against ludicrous motions by the defendants for summary dismissal.  As of this writing, their website, which details these things, has not been updated since October 2008.

These are very strange proceedings for a supposed democracy.  What do you think?


1  Somehow I missed the coverage of the lawsuit and the judgement against Nifong by the indicted Duke students.  When I wrote this article, I was primarily focused on the lawsuit by the others that came to nothing.  I still believe my assessment of the real motives involved, however.  That an ordinary lawsuit could succeed where one seeking the real truth could not is worthy of note and perhaps gives more weight to the conclusions that I have drawn.

Document History
November 1, 2009 created
November 4, 2009 added postscript note 1