It's great (as well as understandable) that the members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team have chosen not to have another stripper party, but, in fairness to the team members, it is important that such parties be put in context and their general good character be appreciated.
First, such parties are legal, morally reprehensible, in my view, but unquestionably legal in Durham, North Carolina and elsewhere.
Second, although the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's lacrosse Team's off-campus stripper party last March is the best known, it was not the first by a Duke sports team and Duke stripper parties were not limited to men's teams. (College stripper parties began long before members of the 2005-2006 team were born and were not limited to elite institutions like Duke.)
As the Hoax was inevitably exposed, hate-filled opportunists who wanted the Hoax to be true shifted to peddling the "the players are bad actors regardless" poison and minimizing the significance of what really happened: a bogus gang rape claim had been made by an ex-convict stripper about to be incarcerated as a danger to herself and, thanks to the media, a malevolent prosecutor and plenty of wishful thinking and willful blindness, widely believed, despite the absence of inculpatory physical evidence and the presence of demonstrable alibi evidence and other "hard" exculpatory evidence.
Since the vilification of the players was undeserved, it needs to be undone.
The truth is that the players are not only top athletes who would have vied for a national championship last year, but well above-average fellows from good families who have survived their ordeal precisely because they are well above-average fellows from good families.
To be sure, none of them is perfect. (If you know someone who is, please let me know.)
UNlike false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum and Durham County, North Carolina rogue district attorney Michael B. Nifong, they acknowledged their bad (but hardly felonious) behavior and resolved not to repeat it.
Just as Mr. Nifong manipulated grand jurors to obtain indictments of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans (the Duke Three) by a grossly misleading presentation of selective evidence, the media created in the public a bad (and false) impression about the players.
The most recent student misconduct statistics (those for the 2005-2006 year) prepared by Duke's Judicial Affairs Department have been compared with information on lacrosse players' misconduct.
Set forth below are some noteworthy observations you are not likely to read in The New York Times or The News & Observer.
(1) In the six most recent academic years ending in 2006, there were a total of 377 reported incidents of academic dishonesty (cheating, plagiarism, etc.) by all students. Of these, 58 were eventually dropped and 28 were adjudicated and the students found not responsible, leaving 291 incidents of academic dishonesty. NONE were lacrosse players.
(2) In the six years ending in 2006, there were a total of 46 reported incidents of physical abuse, fighting and endangerment, including 3 findings of not responsible. NONE involved lacrosse players.
(3) In the six years ending in 2006, there were 20 incidents of sexual misconduct, including 14 findings of not responsible. NONE were lacrosse players.
(4) In the six years ending in 2006, there were 96 incidents of drug related misconduct, including 2 findings of not responsible. Only one was a lacrosse player (smoking marijuana in his room in 2001 and he was not a member of the 2005-2006 team).
(5) In the three years ending in 2006, there were 171 alcohol related medical calls to DUPD/EMS. NONE were lacrosse players. (It's likely that these are the most serious, and dangerous,alcohol related violations.)
(6) About 60% of the lacrosse players, based on last year's team, had GPA's of 3.0 or higher.
(7) The lacrosse players have a 100% graduation rate.
The Judicial Affairs (JA) statistics show total incidents of misconduct broken down between those adjudicated and those not. However, for the non-academic violations, only the adjudicated cases are further broken down by type of violation, e.g., sexual misconduct, fighting, etc. Therefore, the JA statistics shown in items (2), (3) and (4) relate only to adjudicated cases. About 46% of all non academic cases over the six year period were adjudicated with the balance resolved in other ways. The information on lacrosse players' misconduct includes both adjudicated and non-adjudicated cases. Therefore, the relative behavior of the lacrosse players is even better in terms of the measures presented in items (2), (3),and (4) since the number of incidents for non-lacrosse players is understated. Information is not available to measure the extent of the understatement for these particular types of violations.
The Coleman Report, prepared under the leadership of Duke University Law Professor James Coleman after the gang rape claim, concluded, "[b]y all accounts,the lacrosse players are a cohesive, hard working, disciplined and respectful athletic team" and their "conduct has not involved fighting, sexual assault or harassment, or racist behavior."
The Report found that the players were not perfect, but "[t]he vast majority of the lacrosse players' incidents of misconduct involved underage and/ or public drinking, not abusive or dangerous use of alcohol," and "[t]heir behavior, in this regard, was typical of most college students."
Conclusion: "If one focuses on the more important measures of character, integrity and responsible behavior...the lacrosse players have...behaved better, on average, than other Duke students."
It's a shame that the Group of 88 does not have the character and integrity and exhibit the responsible behavior of the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team.
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.