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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:  July 14, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

Duke Case: Tar Heel Nuttiness

The real damage to Duke's reputation came from self-inflicted wounds, not one of a number of stripper parties involving Duke students. Why did Duke offer a settlement?

To avoid possible litigation and the embarrassments of dfiscovery and a trial, of course.

The Editorial Board of the University of North Carolina (former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong's alma mater) believes that Duke wasted money in making a confidential settlement with the families of David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

I hope it's true!

But it will only be a waste of money (from the perspective of the folks running Duke University) if the whole truth about what was done to the members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team by their University becomes generally known anyway, and even then, I think Duke will have paid less than it should have to the Duke Three.

The University of North Carolina's student newspaper is called "The Daily Tar Heel."

Tar: a dark brown or black bituminous usu. odorous viscous liquid obtained by destructive distillation of organic material.

Duke University deserves to be tarred, but NOT because "it owes lacrosse players nothing."

The editorial began: "The three Duke Lacrosse players who were falsely accused of raping a stripper at a party reached a financial settlement last month with Duke University, which begs a pressing question: What did they have to settle?"

The woefully ignorant editors then presumed to answer their question: "We can only imagine it is for a suspension from Duke when the young men were charged, and to that we must ask what was done wrong. The facts of the case were unclear at that point. It was Duke's responsibility to temporarily deny the players the privilege of attending, at least until all facts came to light."

WHAT?

Like other Duke students, the wrongly indicted players were entitled to due process and a presumption of innocence, instead of arbitrary suspension and a presumption of guilt.

The editors:

"The players were supposed to represent Duke in a positive light. Even if the rape allegations had not surfaced, the players failed in this responsibility with a party full of free-flowing alcohol and strippers."

David Evans hosted the party, off-campus, during Spring Break. (He referred to it as "my party" on the list of attendees he prepared for the police.) Sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty attended briefly. I believe they exercised poor judgment in not leaving before or when the strippers showed, but. that's hardly grounds for suspension (at least unless plenty of other Duke students were suspended for attending strip shows off campus).

The editors:

"We don't mean to be insensitive to the serious ordeal that the three players, as well as the entire lacrosse team, went through. The case was bungled from the beginning by former District Attorney Mike Nifong, who has thankfully paid with his license to practice law. But while the young men might be innocent of rape, they are guilty of suspect morals and a failure to uphold the prestigious reputation of their school."

First, if you didn't mean to be insensitive, I don't want to imagine what you would have written if you meant to be insensitive.

Second, there was NO BASIS FOR A CASE and NO BUNGLING. It was obvious that there was no case when the DNA results came in. Mr. Nifong deliberated proceeded to obtain indictments by misleading grand jurors and prosecuted a baseless case for personal and political reasons. He was evil, not inept, and his victims included gullible black voters and his political opponent Freda Black as well as Duke's male lacrosse players and their families and friends.

Third, there's no "might" about it: all of the members of the team are innocent or rape. kidnapping and sexual assault, as North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper publicly acknowledged, finally.

Fourth, Mr. Nifong's loss of his law license is but partial payment. He should be sued and prosecuted.

Fifth, neither "suspect morals" nor "failure to uphold the prestigious reputation of your school" is a crime under either federal or North Carolina law of which anyone can be "guilty." The players promptly apologized for poor judgment, and rightly so. But the editors' unsupported, perhaps sanctimonious, conclusion that the players "are guilty of suspect morals and a failure to uphold the prestigious reputation of their school" reflects ignorance of the facts and the players, at best.

Eileen Cornacchia, Collin Finnerty's maternal aunt, explained:

"Collin and Reade did not plan the party, or hire anyone. As sophomores on the team they were required to attend the party put on by the team captains. They were both there for a very short time and have irrefutable documentation that they were not there when the bogus incident supposedly took place.

"You might want to look into whether any minority frat parties on the Duke campus had X-rated entertainment during the 2005-2006 school year."

I criticized stripper parties, underage drinking and facilitating underage drinking long before that ill-considered party and don't make an exception for lacrosse players, even at the risk of being called a Hoax "enabler," but stripper parties are legal and no one was charged with an alcohol-related offense.

I'm also against selective prosecution, selective outrage and hypocrisy.

The editors:

"Some might argue that athletes shouldn't be held to a higher standard because, after all, students all over the country have parties like the one held by the Duke lacrosse team without any discussion of how they are representing their universities.

"We think that it is abhorrent for the type of party that the Duke Lacrosse team held to occur at all, whether sponsored by athletes or otherwise. Athletes also must accept that they will be placed under greater scrutiny and if they can't handle it, they shouldn't participate in collegiate sports."

So athletes should not have stripper parties, but non-athletes should? That's discrimination against athletes. I wonder how many of the editors are athletes.

The editors:

"Duke is getting the short end of the stick on this one. They suffered a major blow to their reputation as a result of this ill-fated party and took the right actions, both when the allegations came to light as well as after it became clear that the young men were innocent of raping the woman."

Congratulations for finally conceding that "the young men were innocent" (after saying they "might" be).

But the real damage to Duke's reputation came from self-inflicted wounds, not one of a number of stripper parties involving Duke students.

Why did Duke offer a settlement?

To avoid possible litigation and the embarrassments of discovery and a trial, of course.

Because Duke took actions that were NOT "right".

Like telling the players not to talk to their parents, much less lawyers.

Like arranging for Wes Covington to be the players' intermediary with the police.

Like turning over private information without permission or a court order and then standing mute when Mr. Nifong pretended he had not already received the private information.

Like allowing illegal searches of dorm rooms.

Like asking the white players to submit to DNA submissions without notifying parents or advising them to get counsel.

Like tolerating professors treating players differently and unfairly.

Like sacrificing the players on the altar of the false god, extreme political correctness, worshipped by President Brodhead and the 88ers.

Like encouraging bogus indictments by making it obvious that it was abandoning the players and contributing to the poisonous atmosphere threatening them by canceling the lacrosse season and thereby signaling, in President Brodhead's wicked words, that something "bad enough" had happened when the real "bad thing" that happened was that an ex-convict stripper with mental problems was treated as a victim instead of a dubious accuser when she claimed gang rape.

The editors:

"Duke owes David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann nothing."

At a minimum, it owes them profound apologies and waivers of confidentiality and everyone due process and fair treatment as well as fulfillment of its contractual and fiduciary obligations to its students.

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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Copyright 2007 by Michael J. Gaynor
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