If anyone wants to read a great book about the true story of the Duke lacrosse non-rape event, you should read ``It's Not About The Truth, The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered,'' by Don Yaeger. A Duke alumni had read my column about the Duke case and student athletes in general and graciously sent me a copy.
It is an amazing story of an honorable coach and three players and the horror they went through, caused by many different parties. It is fact-filled with supporting police records, hospital findings, DNA results, and the extensive criminal records of the two strippers who started this nightmare. There is a documented time line that runs from the night of the alleged rape all the way to April 11 when all charges were dropped by the attorney general and, more importantly, when they were also declared innocent. This one word was all the players and their parents wanted to hear all along.
I'm sure everyone could easily follow the case from the beginning. It was front-page news day-after-day in all the newspapers and was constantly reported on stations such as MSNBC, CNN and other untrustworthy outlets. And the traditional media sources wonder why subscriptions are going down and stations are losing viewers. They are too arrogant to see that fewer and fewer people are finding them not credible or trustworthy and are turning to other more-reliable sources. If any news source tells you that this was not the case, have them compare the column inches when they were reporting sensationalized lies to the inches given to retraction of rush to judgment and signs of remorse.
Yes, the young men involved acted very foolishly when they hired two strippers and had a party that involved underage drinking. The young men were on campus for practices when everyone else had left for spring break and were bored with nothing to do. This is absolutely no excuse for their actions. Still, why instantly label them rich, privileged, lacrosse-playing white kids? As to the rich and privileged characterization, many of them certainly did not fit that description. And even if they were, does the description explain their behavior or just demonstrate the hatred and class envy and petty jealousy of others' lives.
But when the facts came out, it showed they were decent, clean-cut kids from decent hard-working families. Is it a problem for anyone out there that parents want the very best possible for their children? They were put through hell for absolutely no reason for more than a year and could have been sentenced to up to 30 years each if wrongly found guilty. I would love for all the accusers to go through the same period of fear and uncertainty that these young men went through.
And let's not forget about the coach and his family. Mike Pressler is an honorable, decent man. He is a man of great integrity who is loved and respected by his players and others. He had been at Duke for 16 years and could picture himself at no other place. He certainly loved Duke and had planned to finish out his career there. He inherited a losing program, turned it into a national powerhouse, and took the team to the 2005 NCAA Championship game.
Detractors shamefully took away his season and forced him to resign, but he never stopped supporting his players and believed in their innocence from the very beginning. His family (wife and two daughters aged 14 and 7, I believe) endured threats, insults and humiliation throughout the ordeal, to the point where his daughters had to live elsewhere. Coach Pressler, obviously respected by those in lacrosse, found a job and now is coaching in Rhode Island.
Finally, a faculty committee was convened to investigate the lacrosse program and its results were impressive. The committee said "members of the team are academically and athletically responsible students who were not out of control while at Duke." The committee also pointed out that many players were irresponsible in their drinking, but at the same time the committee found that the "men's golf team had a higher percentage of its members with disciplinary records."
All in all, the Duke administrators, media, police and the radical leftist faculty who prematurely jumped at the perceived social mistreatment of minority women owe a huge apology to all of those individuals whose lives were affected by these false claims. Think they have gotten them yet? I'm sure you know the answer. If not, I think you'll be interested in the next column and the associated sad facts.
Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.