Duke LaCrosse

I will be the first to confess that I’ve rolled my eyes at the "innocent until proven guilty," mantra of our legal system…mostly because it is sometimes used to acquit the obviously guilty.

Well, the Duke LaCrosse case has been a good reminder to me of why this way of doing legal business exists.

All over the country, the print media is reprimanding those who rushed to conclusions. Below is an excerpt from a scathing but on-target editorial in yesterday’s New York Post. Click Here to read the full editorial:

"Mike Nifong is all but gone – resigned as Durham
County district attorney and disbarred by the North Carolina Bar
Association for his attempt to railroad three innocent Duke lacrosse
players on rape charges.

But what about the other members of the lynch mob?

Like the Durham City Council, whose members charged that the Duke
lacrosse team "has been a ticking time bomb that has not been
dismantled." Or the area residents who picketed with "wanted" posters
of all 46 team members and signs that read, "Don’t be a fan of

And what’s to be done about the most outrageous perpetrators of all?

Namely Duke’s Gang of 88 – the faculty members (more than 10 percent of
the entire staff) who signed a contemptible public statement that not
only assumed the players’ guilt but hailed the "collective noise" that
led Nifong to file his dubious legal charges?

"What Does a
Social Disaster Sound Like?" asked their manifesto, citing the
purported attack as proof of the "racism, sexism, sexual violence and
homophobia" on Duke’s campus.

Even after the charges had been
proven false, many of the signers remained unapologetic – insisting
"the legal process will not resolve" the continuing problem of all
those "isms" on campus.

Or the university’s president, Richard
Brodhead – who not only refused to stand by his own students, but
canceled the lacrosse season, suspended the accused players and
pressured the team’s coach (a 16-year veteran) to resign?

Meanwhile, the rest of the Duke faculty – save for 17 courageous
members of the economics department, who publicly disavowed the Gang of
88 – remained silent, afraid to speak out.

Yesterday, the university reached a financial settlement with the three falsely accused players, avoiding a lawsuit.

But no one has taken steps to remedy the cowardly school leadership
that caved to the pressure of a politically radical faculty demanding
that the legal rights of the accused be trampled on.

Sadly, what happened at Duke is typical of American academia these days."


Whether or not  such commentary is entirely fair to academia, the city council, etc., is an open question, but it does remind me that rushing to judgment brings wonderful feelings and often egg on the face.

The "justice" question is one that needs to be dealt with seriously and soon. The term is thrown around  quite freely these days, and the question of whether what is commonly labeled "justice" is in fact "justice," is an important one. "Justice" is a God word. We should use it with reverence and due precision. More soon in forthcoming posts.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Share Your Thoughts

5 thoughts on “Duke LaCrosse

  1. David… hope you get the post you’re seeking. I think the difference in the stereotyping of the NY Post vs. that toward the Duke players has to do with the fact that the actions of the professors were actual–in word, in writing, etc. Having said that…to paint academia with that broad of a brush is too much.

  2. Brad, you echoed my thoughts exactly. I think this is also another great example of why not to put ourselves in situations such as these.
    Not being at a party fueled by alcohol and strippers may have saved these guys a lot of grief.

  3. I do believe in presuming innocence and believe we must never move away from that as a foundation of our justice system, but I am just wondering, for so many to buy into the idea that these lacrosse boys could have raped this girl has got to say something about the reputation and culture surrounding those kids, as well as the culture of college sports in general. Anyone who is familiar with the college culture knows there is rampant sexual immorality, binge drinking and drunkenness, experimentation with and use of illegal drugs, and no telling what else, and those things are especially prevalent among the college athletes. Maybe so many people bought into the idea that these boys raped the girl because it is not so hard to believe where there are strippers, booze, and no telling what else, people lose control and do something they wouldn’t normally do. There is no way these boys should have been accused of rape, but the idea that someone forced themselves on someone sexually in the party atmosphere found on most college campuses is not a huge leap to make for many.

  4. You question the fairness of the article towards academia. I think the article is representative of the larger issue at play here. It sounds to me as if the article makes assumptions about those in academia (on a broad scale) as did those condemning the lacrosse players (or maybe they just hate lacrosse). As someone currently pursuing an collegiate academic post, I would be offended by the article’s generalization about academics, though I understand the stereotyping.
    Why were so many people ready to see the lacrosse team get in trouble? Unfamiliar with the atmosphere on the Duke campus, but knowing what I do about lacrosse and Duke, I would imagine the players are stereotyped (maybe with reason, I don’t know them) as being uppity jocks from wealthy backgrounds who probably think they are better than everyone. I can also imagine where faculty and the general population across the country may see the players as believing they are above the law. If this is the case, then I think many people wanted to see them knocked down a peg or two and were all to eager to believe that they were guilty based on their own biases and prejudices.
    I admit that when I heard about it, I figured they probably did it. But after the first few days, when stories started coming out about the accuser, I was one of the first people I knew about to at least have my doubts. I certainly decided to reserve further judgment. Look at the number of cases Texas has cleared in the last few years based on DNA evidence where someone has wrongly spent years or DECADES in prison! I would venture to say that too often jurors, prosecutors, etc., expected these people to be guilty so proving otherwise became that much more difficult.
    The news is filled with stories about people doing horrible things that it makes it difficult to reserve judgment, especially when the circumstances are easily believable. And whether we like it or not, this is the reason that our legal system is based upon proving guilt rather than innocence.