Just Because You’re Innocent It Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Be Charged with a Crime.
The situation in North Carolina with the three Duke lacrosse team members who were charged a little over a year ago with sexual assault against a stripper at a party is a current day example that “witch hunts” are still alive today. In the last few days it was determined that those charges were unfounded and were dropped completely. The North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper, who took over the case from Durham County District Attorney, Mike Nifong, related that his investigation led to an evaluation that no assault actually happened.
The stripper alleged that the three students sexually assaulted her in a bathroom of a house hosting a team party where she was paid to perform. However, there was no DNA evidence, there were significant inconsistencies, no other witness who substantiated her claim, and the accuser contradicted herself. One of the students had an ATM receipt supporting an alibi, and it was learned that the woman had made similar gang-rape accusations ten years earlier, with no charges being filed. With all of these problems with the allegations, it’s difficult to understand why a District Attorney would file charges in the first place.
In fact, District Attorney Nifong’s handling of this case caused Nifong, himself, to be charged with ethics violations. Attorney General, Cooper said “This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.” Cooper has even urged that a law be passed to allow the North Carolina Supreme Court to remove a district attorney, when warranted.
In today’s violence filled culture, rape and sexual assault generally carry stiff penalties and I’m not arguing against the basic premise that such a crime should be punished. However, when those in authority, who are responsible for carrying out justice act in a vigilante fashion, because they are so intent on furthering their own career, or perhaps, they think anyone who is accused is automatically guilty, we’re in danger of losing basic rights our country was founded on. Whether it is a law enforcement officer, a district attorney, or a judge who is clouded with ambition — wanting to be seen as tough on crime at all costs — when they overreach their authority and rush to condemn before evidence supports it –that authority figure is every bit as wrong as the “purported” criminal act.
Let’s consider what has happened to the three innocent college students for more than a year. They’ve been subjected to national negative notoriety, the worry and fear of being sent to prison for something they didn’t do, as well as the possible ruin of their future career potential. With such charges hanging over them, they lived in torment. I imagine when they went out in public, other people looked at them skeptically, wondering if they were criminals and that employers probably were not jumping at the chance to hire them for summer work. One of them graduated about the time they were indicted and the other two were temporarily suspended. While the two have been invited back to Duke, neither one has accepted. They both lost a whole year of their lives. Then, how about the huge legal bills they and their families had to pay for such a serious accusation. Estimates of the costs have been speculated at as high as $3 million.
I know that many people think that good, law abiding citizens won’t be falsely accused, or that if by some twist of fate that did happen, the authorities would quickly determine from the evidence that it was a mistake and the whole thing would soon get cleared up. Another general consensus is that “where there is smoke there is fire” and in those rare situations when someone is charged with a crime they didn’t commit, that they were probably involved with the wrong crowd, which is why they were accused in the first place.
But in this case, we have three athletes, studying at Duke University who just happened to go to a team party. These young men weren’t part of a gang, drug dealers, or involved in holding up convenience stores. Yes, there was alcohol at the party and a stripper, which was not the wisest decision. However, how many adults can say they never went to party where there was drinking. And if you just watch a little TV you will be exposed to many situations of scantily clad women and men, some instances of suggestive dancing — on prime time, seemingly saying that such activities are OK — so why do we expect our youth to be wiser than older adults with more life experience? Remember the Bible verse, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
Instances like this are evidence that it is a myth that only people guilty of something are charged with crimes. Moreover, people accused of a sexual assault or other crimes need a strong defense by competent legal representation to fight against those authorities in the system operating with personal motives instead of seeking truth and fairness. Otherwise, those innocent people can become the “victims”.
Fortunately, the three falsely accused young men’s lawyers fiercely worked to ensure the truth came out in the end. You never know when you or a loved one could find yourself in a situation where you need a talented criminal defense lawyer, which is why I invite you to visit my website at http://www.edmondgeary.com to find out how to choose one. This can be a life changing decision.