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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Michael J. Gaynor
Bio: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  December 22, 2006
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Topic category:  Other/General

Duke Case: Professor Baker Still Unrepentant

William Hissey is a college student in Florida.

Former Duke Professor Houston Baker is now a Vanderbilt professor.

The two view the Duke case about as differently as possible..

Mr. Hissey recently wrote an e-mail letter to Professor Baker asking him some pertinent questions on his current stance on the Duke case.

Mr. Hissey hoped that Professor Baker and the "Group of  88" professors at Duke have some remorse for their initial comments and actions regarding the Duke case.

Mr. Hissey’s letter:

"Professor Baker,

”My name is William Hissey and I am a student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. I have done quite a bit of research recently on  something you are very familiar with, the Duke Lacrosse scandal. I  know where you stood on the case in the immediate weeks following the incident. However, in light of all the information that has developed  regarding the case, I have some questions for you.

”Has your opinion on the matter changed in any way?

”You issued a public letter denouncing the ‘abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us’ and demanding the ‘immediate dismissals’ of ‘the team itself and its players.’

”Would you take those comments back if you could do it again?

”It puzzles me how you make such a statement without proper evidence against the indicted three players. I am not trying to insult you in  any way, but I am truly interested to know if you regret issuing that letter. Here are some more questions I have for you.

”If it turns out that the woman who was allegedly raped is in fact lying, will you apologize for your immediate actions to the players and their families?

”What is your opinion on the Tawana Brawley case that smeared our  criminal justice system and the innocent lives of several wrongfully accused men?

”When that case was going on, what was your immediate reaction?

”Do you think if the Duke case is similar to the Brawley fiasco, the  alleged victim will hurt the chances of justice for rape victims in the future?

”Do you think the way Durham District Attorney, Mike Nifong has handled the case is wrong in any way? It is now very clear that he went ahead with the case to gain politically by making an example of the Duke three and creating a story that he knew would cause the nearly 100 percent liberal news stations to have a field day with. If the three accused were not students at Duke and kids of wealth, which has sort of become a crime in the eyes of many, there is no way he would have went ahead with the case with no DNA evidence whatsoever. He withheld exculpatory evidence in favor of the defense, used a photo lineup with only Duke University players, and even charged Reade Seligman when he has more than three strong alibis that prove he could not have been at the house when the alleged rape occurred. This case should have been dropped immediately, but people like yourself have dragged it out and smeared the lives of three innocent men because of your own personal agendas.

”You said in your letter, ‘We cannot have faith in an administration that allows the players behavior. Canceling the season is not enough, the coach should be dismissed and the participating players should be as well.’

”You should have said. ‘We cannot have faith in an administration or faculty who abandon their students and presume guilt when there is no evidence. Until, this case most people accused of a crime are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. However, in this case, the players were guilty from the start and it is an absolute travesty. Coach Mike Pressler should have in no way been forced to resign, but instead President Brodhead and the professors in the Group of 88 should have. In the press release, Vanderbilt University said they hired an honorable man when they hired you, but the only way you can gain some honor back is by standing up and apologizing and urging the other professors who signed that petition to apologize as well. Until then, by hiring you Vanderbilt University has lost a great deal of prestige in my eyes.

”I would not allow my younger sister to attend Duke University if she wanted to when she is ready for college in the next few years. And no, it is not because I feel she is unsafe with alleged rapists in the lacrosse program, but really for the bigger crime, the lack of backbone in the administration, faculty, and staff.

”As you can see, I think the way the professors at your former university, one of the top institutions in the country, abandoned the players is just wrong. I am trying to get some closure on whether or not any of the Group of 88 professors at Duke are stepping up and apologizing for their actions.

”I would greatly appreciate a response to this e-mail. I am sure you have received many similar messages, but I would like to hear your opinion on the questions I raised. Any time you could offer me would be a wonderful treat.

”Best Regards and Happy Holidays,

”William Hissey"

Good news:  Professor Baker had the decency to respond.

Bad news: That was as decent as he got.

Professor Baker:

”I really have no apologies to make for what I wrote, or for any public statements thereafter.  The Lacrosse Team was an out-of-control team at Duke, and many higher-ups knew it.  At least one faculty memeber -- Peter Wood -- did too and reported it to a Dean.  It was no secret to high ups in athletics and academic adminsitrations that one player was on probation for assaulting a gay man and that a number of others were on Durham police blotters.  The neighborhood where the team was resident talked of the players as behaving ‘like a bunch of farm animals.’  Why are you so interested in the defense of such young men?  Why would you suggest they were ‘abandoned’?  What does that even mean?  I can not speak for a faculty of 88, but I do know that the privilege and secrecy and uncivil (and yes crimiinal) activities of Lacrosse at Duke were not acceptable to many of those who believe universities are made great by their intellectual projects. Your opinions, of course, of who should and should not have been dismissed are predicated upon your best reading of the situation.  You may be right.  As for ‘honor,’ I suppose it is a relative term.  There are those who believe the thousands of young men and women who have died in Iraq have done so as a result of an honorable American war.  I believe they were dispatched into murderous territory by privileged, greedy, lying, and unconscionable men.  You realize, of course, that I have received hudnreds of emails from people -- most of whom I don't know -- reading the Duke situation in ways completely different from you.  They like what I did and said and believe it was not only honorable, but also courageous.  Vanderbilt Univrsity -- where I am very, very happy situated -- feels like those hundreds.  I shall not write to you again, nor open an email from you.  But you seemed -- at the outset of your email, at least -- to be an honorable man.  I wish you good holidays.

”Professor Baker”

Mr. Hissey is honorable, and furious:

“[I]t really infuriates me how the professors at Duke, like Houston Baker, could just abandon their students and instead of being criticized for it, they are praised.

If the three men were African Americans on the Duke basketball team and an over zealous, white District Attorney tried to convict them with as little evidence as their is in this case, Baker would be demanding for the removal of Nifong. He would not be demanding for the dismissal of the entire basketball team and Coach K. He would be protesting on how minorities are continuously wronged in the criminal justice system in the United States. Yet, that is exactly what he did  with the lacrosse situation and I think it is just wrong.:

Mr. Kissey is right, of course.

Professor Baker seems incapable of remorse.

Mr. Hissey emailed me: “Realistically, as you have stated, if the three were African American, there is no way at all that Nifong would have went ahead with the case because it would have severely hurt his chances of being re-elected as district attorney. He would have lost the African American vote that helped him win and the case would have been dropped a long time ago.”

Add Vanderbilt University to the list of universities with administrations that are out-of-control.

Michael J. Gaynor

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Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.


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